Tracy Watkins reckons John Key will have a few regrets…and from where she sits in the political spectrum you can understand why she thinks that way.
For a leader who is not used to losing, however, it will rankle with Key that he has burned up some of his political capital on a failed campaign. That will be his biggest, if not his only regret. And the others?
Has he used up political capital? I see no evidence of this. National and Key’s personal popularity are still higher than at the election, and for that matter than the past three elections. It seems this loss of political capital is imagined by the media commentators.
• He didn’t throw more at it. When Key launched his campaign to change the flag, he knew there was no groundswell for change. But he banked on his personal popularity giving the debate momentum, and pushing a new flag over the line. Being the face of change was a double-edged sword, however, and proponents for a new flag on the left began baulking at what felt like a vote for Key. Key made a partial withdrawal, believing that might bring them back. But Thursday night’s result suggests he might have done better sticking to his guns. Sentiment in favour of a new flag had picked up momentum, most notably in conservative National strongholds like Clutha-Southland. So Key’s initial instincts that his own popularity might win the day were probably correct. If he had pushed it more, would the outcome be different?
Read more »