Friday, 7 March 2008

Sporting National make a match of it

I'm beginning to wonder if National are really the ruthless, winner-takes-all carpet-baggers that I have characterised them as. They are enjoying an almost unassailable poll lead and Key is easing ahead of Clark in the preferred PM stakes. The last thing I'd have expected of them was a manifestation of sporting spirit. It seems they've decided that this isn't cricket and that they need to apply a handicap to even things up.

First up, John Key decided to tarnish his own image, since no-one else seemed to be doing it for him. Though the "We'd love to see wages drop" comment (1) is a dead-end - he undoubtedly said it, but it was also undoubtedly a blunder, not an unwitting revelation of the malevolent wolf lurking under Key's sheepish exterior - it did serve to make Key look a bit foolish, especially as he tried to wriggle about. The 'slippery John' (2) label may stick, and not because of Labour's childish antics, but because people have seen him writhing like a pinned snake.

Then, a more substantial main course, with John Key's dicky memory failing him yet again, as he forgot (3) that he'd committed (4) his party to the goal of settling treaty claims by 2014. This is much more serious, because Key's directly contradicting something he said in February 2007 (it's on the National Party website, for Heaven's sake, attributed to the man himself). Forgetting minutae is one thing, but misremembering your parties policy - YOUR policy - on a issue as important and divisive as Treaty policy and the lifespan of the Maori electorates - suggests either grave uselessness or a weasely aspect found in salesmen. Slippery John, again.

It also precipated a damaging clash with the Maori Party - Inclusive John suddenly didn't look as popular and beloved. This was foretold on lefthandpalm a month ago (5). I can't help it if I'm so far ahead of the pack I'm almost lapping them.

And now, just when people were starting to wonder if maybe Mr English might have been the better choice after all, Bruiser Bill decided it was time to even things up, announcing (6) that if Labour have the wherewithal to do something that might be a very good idea, and will undoubtedly be popular with the electorate, National will try oto undo it at the first opportunity:
National's finance spokesman, Bill English, said the last thing New Zealand wanted was the Government to own the rail company.

"We certainly wouldn't be buying Toll ... We need to look after the taxpayers' interests and the network and the best way to do that is to have a competent operator."

If the purchase was completed under Labour then a National government would get out of the business as quickly as possible, he said. (7)
Never mind that railways will become very, very important in the future, as we have to shift more freight and (hopefully) passengers to the rail, and nevermind that it's almost impossible to run a railway in a small country at a profit - so public ownershoip makes jaw-droppingly good sense - it'll be junked in exchange for a quick cash injection, which will probably be used to invest in health, education, socially progressive policies and protecting the environment a tax cut benefitting National's rich mates.

All credit to Labour. They haven't made a cataclysmic bollux all week, and they've finally let Cullen - a living, breathing strategic asset - take centre stage. There might, just might, be hope forLabour.
1 - 'Key “would love to see wages drop”,' press release by the New Zealand government, 21st of February, 2008. Reproduuced on (
2 - 'Key called 'Slippery John' after he falters on policy,' by Colin Espiner in The Press, 6th of March, 2008. Reproduced on (
3 - ibid.
4 - 'National confirms position on Maori seats,' press release by the National party, 1st of February, 2007. (
5 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:
6 - 'Rail sale back on track,' unattributed article in The Dominion Post, 7th of March, 2008. Reproduced on
7 - ibid.

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