Willie Jackson claims the negativity espoused by Mark Richardson is the reason behind his party's massive rise

The AM Show 22/05/2020

Labour MP Willie Jackson reckons the constant negativity espoused by right-wing TV and radio hosts could ironically be behind his party's massive rise in the polls.

Two polls this week have had Labour at record highs - the Newshub-Reid Research poll on Monday put the party on 56.5 percent, up 14 points; and TVNZ's Colmar Brunton poll had them on 59 percent, up 18 points. National registered 30.6 percent in the former and 29 in the latter.

Appearing on The AM Show on Friday, Jackson told co-host Mark Richardson - an avid supporter of the National Party who regularly criticises the Government - that he was partly to thank.

"Despite everything Mark said, all the resentment from Mark in the last few weeks, we've never been more popular, Mark - so keep talking."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's personal popularity is likely also playing a part. She led National Party leader Simon Bridges in both polls' preferred Prime Minister rankings by huge margins - 59.5-4.5 in the Newshub poll and 63-5 in TVNZ's. 

Jackson said Labour would be "silly" to get cocky, even if the election's only a few months away.

"We all know politics is fickle. We might be 30 percent ahead, the Labour Party internal polls that Simon rubbished have turned out to be true. But polls are polls. A week is a long time in politics."

Earlier this month when a leaked UMR poll, carried out for the Labour Party, showed Labour ahead of National 55-29, Bridges did indeed rubbish it.

"UMR are Labour's pollsters and are consistently, badly wrong," he told NZME, calling them "dodgy numbers". 

Polls are occasionally way off - that's the nature of polling - but it's incredibly unlikely that three polls in a row, showing similar results, would all be wrong.

National on Friday is deciding whether to stick with Bridges or elect a new leader - Todd Muller's thrown his hat in the ring, and there are rumours Mark Mitchell might also. Jackson says even at 25 points or more ahead, Labour knows things can turn quickly - after all, they were on 23 percent just a couple of months ahead of the 2017 election before then-leader Andrew Little stepped aside for Ardern.

"Remember Jacinda got 13 percent in seven weeks - we went from 23 to just under 37 percent. We don't take this for granted at all. Polls are volatile, things can change - and I'll say one thing with Bridges, he's a hell of a scrapper. I'll give him that." 

National MP Judith Collins, appearing on The AM Show alongside Jackson, said just "because Labour's doing very well in the polls at the moment doesn't mean that's going to continue", as the economic impacts of COVID-19 start to bite. 

"The more people are feeling the pain of economic hardship, the more people will be starting to say... 'How come these guys aren't caring about me? They're worrying about everything else, except me.'"

Despite being in Parliament for 18 years and one of National's most experienced MPs, Collins says she has no plans to enter the race at the last-minute, and will turn down any offer of a deputy role.