Barry Soper gives Smug Bill and his pals a good smacking

Barry Soper, yesterday, gave Smug Bill English and his little band of apologists a good smacking, and he gave a salutatory lesson to the caucus as well.

In politics the proof of guilt is denial and there have been denials all round.

Paula Bennett blamed me for all the speculation that the numbers are being done by some of her colleagues by saying that I’ve written so much about her rise and demise that if she listened to it she would have been gone from politics long ago.

Maybe she should start listening to her caucus colleagues!

Hah, that says caucus is leaking like a sieve to Barry, he’ll be right of course, and Paula will be wrong.

National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce was just as vehement saying the suggestion that cliques are forming in their caucus are completely wrong. Joyce said it’s classic first day journalists “speculating on National’s leadership, job done”.

After almost 40 years observing them close up, including 10 Prime Ministers who’ve come and gone bar one, it’s hardly first day journalism. It’s actually getting around the talking to politicians and there’s a common thread that runs through rumbles on leadership, there are denials not just from those who’re involved in leadership but from those who’re close to it.

And the reason for that is simple; they’re the last to know.

Jim Bolger knew nothing when Jenny Shipley rolled him, despite key ministers involving themselves in the “Te Kuiti Bypass Project”. It was my old man that had to meet Bolger at the airport and tell him his time was over.

The only realistic response came from Bill English who said he’d be surprised if there isn’t any political caucus where there isn’t at some time talk about who’s next in line. He said politicians are ambitious people and he wouldn’t be surprised at all if there wasn’t some talk among his colleagues.

The talk is that English will be allowed to leave under his own terms, he’ll decide the timing. But the expectation is that he will bow out before the next election, realising that competing against a young mother with a cute two year old, is beyond him.

Clearly experiencing two election losses as leader has made English more realistic.

After taking National to its biggest ever defeat with just over 20 percent of the vote in 2002 English was determined to stay on but former Reserve Bank Guv Don Brash had other ideas and a year later executed them.

In response to my speculation then that Brash had the numbers on the day of the vote, English was on the phone and the invective flowed thick and fast about how wide of the mark I was about his impending defeat. He was told then that of course those who were opposed to him would say they were for him, knowing if they were really truthful and he survived, they wouldn’t.

That’s how it runs and Bennett should bear that in mind.

And Smug Bill. When Brash rolled Bill his numbers man was celebrating staving off the coup at Backbenchers the night before. I’d say Bill’s numbers people are counting less and less as each day moves forward now.

Bill English thinks he is safe and secure and his threats and bullying of anyone even hinting of standing against him will continue to work. When you are PM and have jobs to hand out that may well be true, but all those promises to people to vote got him when Key left that have been broken and can never be honoured will now be hurting him.

Bill English is literally screwed. Because if he doesn’t change his team then the new ones will change it for him, and if he does change his team then his former mates and sycophants who find themselves out of jobs will knife him too.

In just one week he has gone from looking dead to smelling dead. Time to go Billy.


-NZ Herald

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