If only it was a wrestling name – “Trainwreck” Davis isn’t getting any good press

“Trainwreck” Davis might sound cool as a wrestling name, but in politics it is bad news:

Jo Moir writes at Stuff:

Labour has a problem.

For the last week, Kelvin Davis has been acting prime minister and it’s been nothing short of a trainwreck.  

Winston and Jacinda were off gallivanting around the world stage and left Davis swinging in the wind.

Before embarking on this week-long mission, Davis was pretty cool and calm about the whole thing and even described the role as a “figurehead” position.

While that might be the case in some respects, there’s still a rather large press contingent back home with plenty of questions – not to mention a stack of Opposition MPs dying to embarrass the Government at any opportunity.

In fairness to Davis, this is not all his fault. Questions need to be asked of Labour’s advisers and senior ministers with enough experience to know better, as to why they sent him like a lamb to the slaughter this week.

And slaughtered he was.

National worked out a long time ago that Davis was the weak link in the Labour leadership team and the party is in overdrive finding every way possible to expose that.

Every question Davis had thrown at him on Tuesday was answered first in muffled tones by ministers Phil Twyford, Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson. Davis then stood up and repeated the answers.

The first and second time could have been written off as them helping him get started but it was just absurd when it continued for the entire stretch of supplementary questions.

The ministers didn’t even try to hide the fact they were doing it and Davis blatantly looked to them every time before rising to his feet.

It was like a seriously bizarre game of Chinese whispers that started at Twyford and ran along the front bench until the message was received by Davis.

Davis was Labour’s sock puppet. National released a video of this on Facebook.

National will keep on peppering this clown, over and over. He hasn’t a clue, nor the wit to deal with persistent questioning. His grandstanding while in opposition over Corrections is going to bite him hard.

Basically, he is thick. One wonders how he ever became a school principal.

Things didn’t get much better in Question Time. The Opposition had not one but three questions lined up for Davis to put him under pressure in a number of portfolios.

But that’s not before he had made a clarification to the House, after saying the week before in answer to a question about the cost of additional police that “those costs have been finalised”.

Actually, “those costs have yet to be finalised”.

While it’s clear Davis isn’t a natural when it comes to the House and dealing with questions on the fly, that doesn’t mean there aren’t senior ministers who are.

Robertson and Hipkins are both brilliant performers in the House, who can think on their feet.

Is Robbo white-anting Davis?

The problem Labour has is that Robertson is the obvious person to be acting prime minister and actually there’s no reason he can’t be.

Peters is barely ever going to fill that role because chances are if Jacinda Ardern’s out of the country, then, as foreign affairs minister, he’s likely to be too.

Labour needs Davis to remain the party’s deputy leader because his promotion to that role ahead of the election was a smart one and no doubt went a long way to helping it win all seven Māori seats.

But the party can’t sustain the cringeworthy chaos on display of late and it needs a new plan by the time Ardern and Peters jet out of the country again.

Ardern can appoint Robertson in the acting role and keep Davis as deputy leader. It’s messy, but not as messy as what was on display last week.

Failing that, the Government can choose who answers questions in the House on behalf of the prime minister.

If Ardern is away, then Robertson needs to be nominated as acting leader for the purposes of the House at least. It doesn’t solve the issue of press conferences but it gets halfway there.

Labour needs to accept that the status quo is not working. It has options. The clock is ticking on finding an alternative.

Having to accept things aren’t working this early into your term of government is admitting you weren’t ready for government. A long list of current ministers fit that bill. National will be targeting them hard at question time.

 

-Fairfax

 


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