National Party poster, 1960

National Party poster, 1960

This National Party poster featuring Keith Holyoake, with its emphasis on perennial election themes of leadership and honesty, is from the party's successful 1960 campaign.

In 1958 in response to a serious balance of payments crisis the Labour Finance Minister Arnold Nordmeyer increased taxes on beer, tobacco, cars and petrol. His 'Black Budget' was massively unpopular, especially with Labour's traditional working-class supporters and was seen as denying the working class some of its simple pleasures such as beer and cigarettes. The lingering unpopularity of this budget contributed to National coming to power in the next general election in November 1960. Winning a comfortable twelve-seat margin National would remain in power for the next twelve years with Keith Holyoake leading the government for all but the final ten months of that period.

The political philosophy of ‘Kiwi Keith’ (so named to distinguish him from an Australian cousin of the same name) was to preserve the economic prosperity and general stability of the period – best summed up by his 1963 election slogan, ‘Steady Does It’. While he was criticised by some, the longevity of his administration suggests he had correctly read the mood of mainstream New Zealanders.

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