So now, with the rats swallowed, it should be time to set about the initiative regaining part of the equation. Instead, Labour is immediately snarled up in another ugly PR car crash, with party big-wigs offerring to resign (1) and Clarke (with the grimness turned up to eleven) refusing to accept it.
It's a bad look - whether or not any wrong was actually done isn't important. The government looks bad. National are on the attack again. This cack-handedness needs to stop.
Labour need to realise they aren't going to get any breaks from the media. The media don't like them very much and much prefer nice, photogenic John Key, weho might say nothing but does it so pleasantly. And it is more fun to bash Labour than National, partly because National are still portrayed as an underdog, and no-one likes to give the underdog a kick, partly (and paradoxically) because everyone likes to be a bully, and the press are ganging up to sock it to Labour.
Mainly, however, it is because Labour are giving the media such bloody great headlines. Yes, the journos should be looking into National's activities, instead of simply following National's lead. Yes, they should be comparing National's record in office to Labour's to see if the current mess is uniquely venal or just business as usual. But they aren't, and Labour shouldn't be expecting them to either. The press isn't going to be their friend - perhaps because the press barons resent the resriction on their income resulting from the Electoral Finance Act. Hell, if anonymous donors can't pay hundreds of thousands for adverts, it's a whole lot less swill in the treough for the pigs.
Labour can't afford to keep on slipping up like this. It looks inept and sleazy - and the former is serious. If they look inept long enough, they probably are inept. In which case, they'll deserve to lose.
Get it sorted, you pricks, or look forward to appreciating the view from the opposition benches!
1 - 'Labour president offers to resign,' unattributed One News/NewstalkZB article, 21st of February, 2008. (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1594236)