Key’s wise-cracking has a new edge.
He used to call his opponents muppets and it would come across as disarmingly friendly.
These days it sounds more like a profanity than an affectionate put-down.
And to say National’s third term began disastrously would be an understatement.
Key continues to be wrong-footed by the toxic fallout from Dirty Politics.
He is badly tainted by his association with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, whose brand is repugnant to most voters.
I’d love Tracy to back that up with some fact. Â My brand is so repugnant that I continue to build an ever-increasing audience. Â But hey, don’t let facts get in thew way of trying to damage Freed by association.
The Dominion Post reaches nearly half of Wellingtonians aged 15 years and over and has an average daily readership of 234,000 people aged over 15.
I just have a little old repugnant blog with a similar following Tracy. Â Wait until we start Freed!
The problem with the Press Gallery is they are generally actually out of touch with what actually happens in politics.
Preferring to talk about factions and plans and conspiracies when none actually exists. They are particularly tits at these prognostications with the National aprty.
We often see stories about faction wars inside National when none exists. We know they don;t exists because if there were factions then i’d be in one of them and if there was a war there would be bodies floating down political rivers.
Tracy Watkins embarks on another gallery fantasy…that political parties groom future leaders.
Helen Clarkâ€™s mistake in being too slow to rejuvenate her caucus left a very deep impression on Key. He has been far more proactive, creating an expectation that there is no room in the caucus for seat warmers.
The departure of a slew of National MPs at the last election is evidence of his more ruthless approach, as is his approach to Cabinet reshuffles.
For the first time that anyone can remember Key has made a practice of demoting ministers for performance issues, rather than the more traditional route of sacking ministerâ€™s only when they have transgressed. Â This has given him room to constantly renew his Cabinet. Key rang the changes with a reshuffle which he hopes will mitigate the effects of third-termitis.
Elevating the likes of Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges up the Cabinet rankings also shows Key has a succession plan in place â€“ along with Steven Joyce, they are being looked to as the next generation of National leaders. Will the drive for renewal reach even higher to the leadership and deputy leadership?
David Cunliffe’s extreme narcissism is hindering his thought processes. Since the election he has resolutely and steadfastly refused to resign.
His caucus hates him, yet he stands there staring them down in the misguided belief that he is right and they are wrong and if he can just make it look like they are nasty bastards then he can appeal tot he members to continue to support his leadership.
The problem the membership and Cunliffe have is that they are disconnected from reality.
For months on end we have been told the polls wouldÂ close up….they didn’t.
Then they claimed that people just didn’t get to know David…we did, and voted accordingly.
Now they are echoing both of those by insisting that Cunliffe remains as leader. That somehow the polls and voters were just wrong, and that eventually, if they wear us all down then we will really, really like David Cunliffe and Labour and they will return to their rightful position is government of this nation.
The problem with all of that is that is treat voters as though we are stupid.
We know a stupid, lying, double talking faker when we see one.
So how do you get rid of the fool?
David Cunliffe’s resignation from the Labour leadership is certain. It is only the matter of his going that is yet to be decided.
In the old days he would have been gone already. Â Â Read more »
Tracy shares her “campaign diary”:
Sometimes you just have to throw the script away. John Key surprises us at the Press leaders debate by striding onto the stage unannounced.
Press editor Joanna Norris had planned to bring him and Labour leader David Cunliffe on separately after some words of introduction. Outside, Cunliffe must have wondered what on earth just happened when a huge cheer erupted before any of the introductions were given.
A peek backstage beforehand painted a picture of two very different campaigns. In an empty classroom 10 minutes before the debate Key was alone, and pacing the room, his hands held together in front of him. Even his long-time adviser, Paula Oliver, had left the room.
As he left, Key scrawled a thank you note to St Margaret College students for letting him usetheir classroom.
Up one floor, Cunliffe was crowded into a room with a team of four or five advisers including press secretary Simon Cunliffe and strategist Rob Salmond.
One of the team was spotted earlier at the Mecca Cosmetica counter at Ballentynes seeking advice about stage make-up for Cunliffe.
Key has ex-TV3 reporter Sia Aston with him so has that one covered. The debate is fast, rowdy and fun. Read more »
Tracy Watkins writes about The Cunliffe and his likeability and trust issues with the electorate.
Labour leadership is a brutal job. If Helen Clark had been made of different stuff she never would have survived Opposition.
Her colleagues tried to roll her just months out from the 1996 election and with good reason.
Labour’s polling under Clark was disastrous. Support for her as preferred prime minister was laughable. Voters thought she was arrogant, aloof and out of touch.
Everything about Clark – her hair, her teeth, her mannish voice – was picked over and dissected as another reason for voters to reject Labour. They were the worst years of Clark’s life. But when a delegation of Clark’s colleagues knocked on her door asking her to resign she stared them down.
There is said to be a desk somewhere around Parliament that still bears the scars from Koro Wetere digging his fingernails into its surface during their faceoff.
The story even had an (almost) happy ending when Clark took Labour close to winning the 1996 election – though perhaps not as close as her supporters believed on the night.
It was largely thanks to Winston Peters and MMP that she was able to keep Labour’s hopes alive before Peters opted to do a deal with National. But it was enough to secure Clark’s leadership. Three years later she led Labour to a sweeping victory and nine years in power.
Is Clark protege David Cunliffe made of the same stuff?
The difference between Helen Clark and David Cunliffe is two-fold. She had balls and a spine, both things that are sadly lacking from The Cunliffe. His self doubt is immense and hasn’t been helped with former leaders knocking on his door at parliament and assuring The Cunliffe that he shouldn’t worry, the polls will come right, chin up.
Labour’s poll ratings have sunk like the Titanic under Cunliffe’s leadership.Â The latest Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos political pollhas Labour marooned in the mid-20s.
Forget about winning – avoiding an old-fashioned drubbing has become the priority. Only MPs with seats in Labour bastions like Manukau seem safe.
It is not at all far-fetched to imagine Labour sinking to National’s low point in 2002 – 21 per cent.
Under that scenario the damage to Labour could be immense. Unthinkably, even finance spokesman and number two on Labour’s list, David Parker, could be at risk. So too would stars like Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little.
The only difference between now and 1996 is the election date. When Clark’s colleagues knocked on her door in May 1996 the election was still five months away. Even if Labour wanted to change its leader now, it probably couldn’t. Voters would punish such a visible display of panic and disarray just two months out from an election. Many in Labour’s activist base would revolt.
Cunliffe was their man, their nuclear option against a caucus that did not reflect their world view. A change of leader now would bring to the surface all the things voters reject – panic, a party in disarray and disunity.
Given Labour’s sinking lid poll ratings and the rolling maul of stupidity from David Cunliffe, might we be seeing a call from within the party for David Shearer to be brought back.
Amid the frenzy over a Malaysian diplomat whipped home after being accused of attempted rape, the performance of Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer has been a revelation.
Shearer has been forceful and effective.
His colleagues must be wondering whether body-snatchers were at play during Shearer’s stint as leader and replaced him with an inarticulate doppelganger.
Cunliffe will be under huge pressure at this weekend’s Congress to show he’s capable of turning around his poor poll ratings and public image. Privately some of his colleagues must be wondering if they should have held their nerve on Shearer and given him time to grow into the role.
David Shearer is actually a good bloke, one you can have a beer with happily. Whereas David Cunliffe is just an unpleasant, awkward, narcissist.Â Read more »
Karl du Fresne notices the chill wind blowing for Winston Peters as it becomes obvious that he is bewildered and out of touch.
Winston Peters cops it with both barrels in todayâ€™sÂ Dominion Post. In his weekly column, former TV3 political editor Duncan Garner launches a withering attack on the New Zealand First leader and concludes that the public is tired of his games. On the same page, Dom Post political editor Tracy Watkins says New Zealand First is a clock that has been slowly winding down since the 1996 election. (Remember? That was the pantomime when Peters kept the country in political limbo for six weeks while he went fishing.)
Both commentators are especially critical of Petersâ€™ vicious and cowardly counter-attack against his former protĂ©gĂ© Brendan Horan, whom he likened â€“ under parliamentary privilege â€“ to the serial child abuser Jimmy Savile.
It all tends to reinforce a perception that Peters is losing his mojo. Certainly there has been a marked change in the tone of media coverage of him in recent weeks, starting with his failure to deliver on the promise of a killer blow to Judith Collins.Â Â The press gallery was almost unanimous in its scorn for him over that, which leads me to wonder theyâ€™ve finally had enough of his bluster and bullshit.
Yes they have, as have I.
But before those of us who abhor Petersâ€™ political style get too excited, hang on a minute. Yesterday he held a public meeting in Masterton, and out of curiosity I went along. The room was packed long before the guest of honour arrived. I counted more than 100 heads, nearly all of them grey. The meeting was chaired by octogenarian New Zealand First stalwart George Groombridge, who deferentially referred to Peters as “the Boss”.For Peters, the 2014 election campaign is already underway. He spoke, mostly without notes, for nearly an hour. It was vintage Peters, delivered in that characteristic hoarse staccato bark, and it pushed all the usual buttons.
We have a government that grovels to wealthy foreign interests. Immigrants are placing huge demands on housing and infrastructure, which the rest of us (meaning real New Zealanders) have to pay for. Australian banks are robbing us blind. The Budget was a big con; the only good thing in it was the extension of free doctorsâ€™ visits for children, and we all know where Bill English got that idea. Honest, hard-working Kiwis in places like the Wairarapa are being forced to subsidise the Auckland super-city, which even Aucklanders didnâ€™t want. We wouldnâ€™t sleep at night if we knew how few police cars were on the job (and this after New Zealand First heroically pushed Helen Clarkâ€™s government into increasing police numbers by 1000). Wealthy Chinese donors to the National Party who canâ€™t even speak English are demanding that we change our immigration policy (â€śJust try that in Beijing!â€ť). Twenty-one of Barfoot and Thompsonâ€™s 25 top real estate agents are Asian. Weâ€™re an economic colony of China and Australia. John Key was the only person in New Zealand who didnâ€™t know in advance of the raid on the Dotcom mansion, and heâ€™s the minister in charge of the SIS and GSCB. The free market is a total nonsense. Cameron Slater is a dysfunctional twit who knows nothing about politics. (Journalists were repeatedly scorned, but only Slater was paid the compliment of being mentioned by name.) The most profitable investment in New Zealand is a donation to the National Party. Chardonnay-drinking clowns have nothing but contempt for the concerns of ordinary people â€“ â€śbut weâ€™ve got news for them, and itâ€™s all badâ€ť. And so on, and so on. You get the picture.
Tracy Watkins comments on the nasty stuff flying around.
MPs are now bracing for what they believe will be the nastiest campaign ever.
There has been plenty of evidence so far it will be dirty; Green MP Jan Logie has been vilified on social media for her tweet stating: “John Key says Bill English has produced as many budgets as children . . . begs the question who he has f … d to produce it” [sic].
Logie is not the only offender. Remember National MPs Anne Tolley and Judith Collins attacking Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei for her $1000 jackets and being out of touch with the poor? Or Labour MP Trevor Mallard calling Chris Finlayson “Tinkerbell”? But such behaviour is hardly new. In past Parliaments we have had punchups, Judith Collins labelling Labour MP David Benson Pope a pervert, Labour’s various attempts to smear John Key – including the H-bomb debacle – and in return National spent most of the 2005 campaign labelling Helen Clark a liar and likening her to despot Robert Mugabe.
The difference these days is that social media and the 24/7 digital news environment magnifies such behaviour a thousand-fold. Â Read more »
Tracy Watkins seems to think so in her article in the Dompost.
She is alone in the gallery in thinking Winston’s time is over, a smart observation, but one that will ignored by the lazier members of the gallery who hold onto the hope that there is one last hurrah in the old not so wily dog. I think 4 months will be sufficient time for Tracy Watkins to be proved right.
Anyone who kids themselves that there is life after Winston Peters for NZ First only had to watch the party floundering in the absence of its leader this week.
Frantically trying to head off an attack by their former colleague, expunged NZ Firster Brendan Horan, Peters’ front bench achieved the seemingly impossible feat of making Horan look good by comparison.
They were clueless in the face of Horan’s determination to extract utu from his former party by tabling documents he claimed showed improper use of the taxpayer funded leader’s fund.
Whether the documents do show what Horan claims remains to be seen; the Speaker is investigating although the explanation offered by Peters suggests the spending complies with the rules. But we know from long experience that politicians have a collective interest in not inquiring too deeply into the use of leaders’ funds.
There is certainly no reason to be confident that they have cleaned up their act since an Audit Office inquiry several years ago found most parties treated it as a slush fund for party political activities. (NZ First was one of the parties pinged for unlawful spending to the tune of $158,000).
Regardless of the ins and outs of Horan’s allegations, however, one thing seems clear: Horan is hellbent on using his last remaining months in Parliament to try to take Peters and the rest of NZ First down with him.
Even if he succeeds he will only be hastening by a few years what increasingly seems inevitable.