This year the Maori vote is more valuable than ever

Election will be close: English

National’s supporters are too complacent about the September election and need to be aware of the opposition’s chances of grasping victory, the Deputy Prime Minister says.

While National’s support remains well ahead of that of Labour its almost total lack of significant support partners could allow a wide ranging coalition to govern with only small changes in support, opinion polls suggest.

This morning Bill English told National’s northern region conference in Auckland that delegates and volunteers had a challenge, because supporters “think this election is going to be a bit easier [to win] than it’s actually going to be”.

Winning a third term would likely require it more than matching its 2011 election result where it registered 47.31 per cent support, which National claims is the highest of any political party since the 1951 waterfront strike.

“We have to get the highest vote any incumbent has ever got, to win. The Opposition can be divided, it can have many leaders and co-leaders, it can have no vision, very little policy, be disorganised, but under MMP it can win. We need to remember that every single day,” English warned.

The key to this was the breadth of potential National Party supporters.

“Our message of aspiration and a better future reaches New Zealanders right across the spectrum, from the parents who want to make sure their kids get through schools so they turn up to the parents’ evening, through to people who we have paid to get trade training while they’re in prison…as well as the small business that is now benefiting from a stronger economy.

Focusing mainly on the strength of the economy, English’s speech contained no announcements or policy.

But he warned that even though he believed Kiwis were feeling better about their prospects, few would see the election as a chance to “reward” the Government for its record.

The current account deficit had been shrinking for longer than expected, and exports continued at record levels despite the dollar remaining at record levels since it was freely floated around 25 years ago.

There was a “burgeoning” of export success “from companies you’ve never heard of” English said.

The economy was forecast to grow 10 per cent over the next three years, faster than almost all other developed countries. But, English said, this would count for little when it came to the election.

“We can look back and can say a lot of good things about what the government has achieved, but [the public] have banked those gains.

“The public now regards it as normal to have a stable, faster growing economy in a difficulty world, and what they want to see is more of it.”

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