Chris Hipkins gave himself a score of nine out of 10 in last night’s debate, a point higher than in the first TVNZ debate. Christopher Luxon admitted he performed slightly weaker, telling media he’d give himself a seven.
But speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Luxon said that wasn’t a concession he had lost the second debate, despite most pundits from across the media giving Hipkins the win (you can find our group analysis of the debate here).
If Tova O’Brien’s sources are correct, former PM Helen Clark called Hipkins after that first debate to rark him up and tell him to “fight”, which is exactly what he did.
Luxon said this morning that Hipkins had failed to actually defend his own record and spent the entire debate attacking himself and National. “If you’ve got new ideas to sort out our problems, it’s a good idea to start talking about them,” he told Mike Hosking.
Asked how he might change his debate approach going into next week’s Press debate, Luxon said he’d go much harder about holding Hipkins’ record to account. “Everyone knows Labour is rubbish, they all know they have under delivered, wasted our money… what I’ve been trying to do is say this is what we would do in a practical, commonsense way to actually solve these problems. It just may mean we have to spend a lot more time reminding people of his record,” said Luxon.
One of Luxon’s biggest clangers in last night’s debate was when he said he didn’t know Winston Peters, a comment to which moderator Patrick Gower responded: “It’s Winston Peters, everyone knows him”.
Luxon said that he was simply trying to make it clear that if people want change after October 14, “you have to step up”.
“What I am worried about is that people think we are going to win this thing they are going to park their vote in other places… that’s not possible,” said Luxon. “As a last resort, yup, I’m going to pick up the phone [to Peters] because if we’re short and the choice is three years of these muppets or trying to find a way to work with him, I’ll give it a go. All I’m being is quite pragmatic.”
National’s internal polling has, on occasion, had the party in the 40s, said Luxon. But he wouldn’t reveal where his party was polling as of this week and whether or not it was in line with recent television polls. “I’m trying to say to people it’s not a done deal,” said Luxon.