It's been interesting to see read the Herald's recent interviews with some new first-term National MPs, and to see how they orientate to National's push into the middle of the political spectrum under John Key. Rising stars like Jackie Blue are clearly 'on message', supporting the new moderation: 'I think [National] does need to be more centrist. I think John has already taken away all ambiguity that there was with the previous leadership and I think that's a good thing.'
Chris Finlayson stresses that the party needs to be 'liberal conservative', and says 'I really want to play my part to justly finish the historical Treaty settlements'.
Chester Borrows comes across as the most unlikely of National MPs, saying he wants 'to bring a sense of understanding about how life is at the bottom of the tree to National Party policy.' He sees that NZ society has changed and thinks National has to change likewise:
The party needs to grow the vote on the left and it's that group of voters in the middle that change governments. It's not a matter of selling your soul, it's a matter of being reasonable. If you look at where New Zealand's gone over the last 30 years, the Maori activists and the protesters we all used to cane have actually taken us to a place where we'd rather be, in many cases.
They all seem to like and be keen to build bridges with MPs from the minor parties to National's left. Here are part of their responses to the question of which other MPs they have made friends with or respect.
Jackie Blue: 'There's only one person who would get that award and without any hesitation, I'd say Tariana Turia. I worked with her on the health committee and she is a woman of integrity ... she just blows me away, quite frankly.'
Chris Finlayson: 'I've really enjoyed working with Russell Fairbrother and Nandor Tanczos on the justice and law reform select committee. I really like Nandor Tanczos.'
Chester Borrows: 'I've got a healthy respect for Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples. They just ooze mana. I've got a healthy respect for Sue Bradford's intellect.... Nandor Tanczos has got a great grasp of social and criminal justice.'