Bill couldn’t hurt Barclay, but Barclay took the soft option and will stand down at election

Bill English’s silly play, one which may well undo his prospects for the election he was cruising to before he let his personal vendetta play out in public, has a little problem.

He can’t actually do anything to get rid of Todd Barclay if he digs his heels in. Even though the media are wishing that was the case.

Radio NZ hypothesises:

As Prime Minister, Bill English cannot force Mr Barclay to resign as an electorate MP.

However, as soon as an MPs actions start to cast their leader in a bad light, their political careers tend to become short-lived.

Except Todd Barclay is a backbench MP. And if he just shuts up, says nothing and waits out Bill English then he will still be an MP long after Bill English gets shafted by his own caucus.

And the news from Clutha-Southland backs that up too, in case Peter Kiely and Glenda Hughes get grand ideas about trying to tip him out there:

Some constituents in the blue-ribbon seat of Clutha-Southland are still backing MP Todd Barclay.

Many have?reacted with little?surprise that?Prime Minister Bill English has admitted that Barclay told him he recorded?conversations of former staff member Glenys Dickson.

An investigation by? on Tuesday morning, that Dickson, Barclay’s former electorate agent, was paid hush money after learning of a dictaphone left running in the Gore office and then engaged?an employment lawyer.

Dickson has gone to ground and was unable to be contacted on Tuesday at her Gore home or by phone.

The allegations have long been talked about in the Clutha-Southland electorate.

While many had not heard about English’s comments on Tuesday, those who were willing to talk politics on Gore’s main street seemed underwhelmed at the revelations.

Courier driver David Aitken said he had “heard something about it” during the day but was surprised to hear of English’s admission.

However, he still backed Barclay as his local MP.

“They’re all liars in Parliament, so yeah, I probably do I guess,” he said.

Retired farmer Lester March, of Gore, said “he supposed” he still had confidence in Barclay as his local MP.

“He’s?been a bit naughty, I know that, but I don’t have too much to say about it, to be honest.

“He’s done a bit for the place.”

That’s the bottom line here. Todd Barclay won the selection despite the nasty, dirty plays by Bill English and his cronies. Now they can’t tip him out.

Todd Barclay was at the start of his parliamentary career, Bill English has less than three years left in his.

No matter what Bill English says he will do to Todd Barclay it is of no consequence. Barclay could just wait him out.

We’ve been here before though, when Bill English tried and failed to rinse Maurice Williamson. Williamson stood there and told English to go fly a kite. Barclay should do the same.

Except I’m not sure Barclay has the courage and I predict he will announce shortly he is not going to contest the election and stay on until then so the government doesn’t lose its majority. Still he will have done the damage to Bill English’s credibility, he failed as a leader to stand by his man, ran a hit job from his own office and it has exploded into public three months out from the election.

Bill English was cruising to an election victory, now that is in jeopardy through his own failing and willingness to pursue a vendetta against one of his own caucus members.

If National ends up in a losing position or having a weak negotiating position then caucus can look to Bill English for the blame. It is his shabby hit job that has blown up in his face. It will be his stupidity that will cost the Nats.

His lack of forethought is now apparent, his intransigence over Israel, his backing of McCully, and now his shabby hit job on one of his own caucus have diminished any standing he could claim as a leader.

As a Finance Minister he was superb, as a leader he is still found wanting.


-RadioNZ, Fairfax