John Armstrong critiques Steven Joyce’s virtuoso performance inÂ theÂ house where he rinsedÂ Cunliffe.
Joyce took the first call in Wednesday afternoon’s general debate â€” long a platform for Parliament’s better orators â€” to parody Labour’s under-the-weather David Cunliffe in a fashion that was as clever as it was cruel as it was funny.
Within the space of a five-minute speech, Joyce had revealed another weapon in his armoury â€” the ability to cut an opponent down by sheer wit â€” and thereby further enhanced his credentials as the frontrunner for National’s leadership when Key finally moves on.
There was, however, another interesting outcome from his contribution â€” its impact on those sitting opposite him.
Cunliffe was not in the chamber. But those Labour MPs who were initially tried to ignore what was a virtuoso performance. But their barely suppressed smiles gave the game away.
If any group of people could do with a bit of a laugh it is Cunliffe’s colleagues.They have watched in increasing despair as their leader of just 10 months has virtually self-destructed and taken the party’s support down with him from the mid-30s to the mid-20s in percentage terms. Cunliffe is now very much marooned in a malaise from which it is almost impossible for a Leader of the Opposition to drag himself or herself out.
You can do nothing right. Every opinion poll just brings even more bad news. No one takes you seriously. You become the target of every cheap joke and jibe. The media spit on what remains of your dignity. The public write you off. In short, you are deemed to be terminal. You then wait for the firing squad â€” the knock on the door from a delegation of your MPs who have determined your use-by date has long passed and your ability to resuscitate your party’s flagging support is seen as likely as a squadron of pigs gliding past the Beehive.