National MPs still in denial

It seems National MPs are still in the first stage of grief…denial.

A shell shocked National caucus will meet on Tuesday for the first time since its ousting from Government by Winston Peters.

The leadership will likely be on the agenda – and while outgoing Prime Minister Bill English has overwhelming backing to stay, he has said little about his future since last Thursday’s bombshell announcement by Peters that he was backing a change of Government.

National insiders spoken to by Stuff say there is no stomach in the caucus to replace English, and they draw parallels with Labour in 2008 when Helen Clark quit immediately following her election defeat, leading to a series of destabilising leadership changes.

“It would be better if Bill could continue on for a period of time to give continuity,” said one MP. “One of the big mistakes Helen Clark made for her party was leaving on election night.”

Another MP said there was “a lot of enthusiasm” for English to stay.

Seriously? This guy couldn’t cut a deal with the politician who cuts the easiest of deals and they are enthusiastic about retaining him?

But after leading National to a commanding lead over Labour on election night, English is said to be gutted by Peters’ decision.

All for the sake of retaining Nick Smith as a minister, and one extra seat at the cabinet table.

Others are said to be considering their retirement, including outgoing speaker David Carter. But English may be swayed by the fact that his finance spokesman, Steven Joyce, seems intent on staying put, despite earlier speculation he may quit.

While Tuesday’s meeting will likely be a debrief and a chance to lick their wounds, National MPs will be fired up at the manner of their ousting, a shock decision which has also polarised voters.

If there is one thing National does badly it is debriefs. After losing Northland it was all jolly hockey sticks from Steve Joyce and the other strategic geniuses. THeior debreif will go something like this. “Didn’t we do well, we were the largest party on election night, more than a million people voted for us, woohoo…don’t worry the voters will realise soon enough.

And not one MP will say “STFU Bill, you lost.” It might be brutal but that is the truth.

It is understood, however, that one of Peters’ demands was a waka jumping bill – to stop disaffected NZ First MPs being picked off by National.

Peters is said to have feared a repeat of the 1996 coalition when a number of NZ First MPs defected after its collapse, keeping the then-National government afloat.

A waka jumping bill would stop MPs defecting to other parties.

Another simple thing to agree to that Bill and his team of dunce negotiators could have agreed to easily.

 

The sooner National realises they won a battle but lost the war the sooner they can move on. Having the captain who ran their ship aground with full tanks at full speed ahead stay on seems rather futile.

Wake up…you lost…don’t blame the voters, blame the moron who couldn’t negotiate a deal.

It doesn’t have to be immediately, maybe just after Christmas…or at the most in 6 months time, but Bill and Paula and Nick and a few others need to be told to bugger off.

 

-Fairfax

 

 


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