Tau Henare has opened up a large can of worms that National would have preferred not to have to deal with. His realpolitik approach hasn’t been seen in National since Bill English was rolled by Don Brash, and there are three intakes of MPs who have never experienced a good old fashioned dust up like this.
This demonstrates something have overlooked. John Key and Steven Joyce have been indifferent to many on the backbenches, capable people who should have been offered a job inside or outside of parliament, rather than being treated like lepers. Joyce has made no effort to build a rapport or any good will with members of caucus he doesn’t rate, relying on Key’s popularity to keep them all in line. He has not been aided by a staff who make it clear backbenchers are the lowest form of life imaginable and should not be even talking to the obviously morally superior staff.
The problem with this approach is that there are many disgruntled MPs who wonder why they would hang around just to protect John Key and Steven Joyce’s power. For a strategist Joyce has been silly in overlooking that there are MPs who could cause trouble if not shown that there is reward for good behaviour.
Joyce has created an environment where MPs are actively talking about options like Tau has taken, grabbing whatever they can, knowing that under MMP Joyce can’t afford MPs crossing the floor. With no prospect of a promotion or a big job to look forward to, MPs become embittered and start wondering how they can cause problems.
My sources are telling me that more problems are going to pop up.