Rob Salmond at Polity has a look at why National surprisingly announced the election date yesterday. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was a deflection from something. Rob thinks that National was worried about where a look at donations to National’s campaign would lead. He may be right, as in the past National has had some legally and morally dubious donation regimes
Yesterday we learned that the election will be on September 20th. The indications on ipredict are that the Beehive’s top tier only learned yesterday, and Key said that the Governor-General learned on Sunday.
Why tell us now? To be sure, Key has a track record of telling the public early. But why this week in particular?
I think this announcement betrays discomfort in National’s strategy team about how the debates about donations and conflicts of interest went over the weekend. National went into the weekend thinking it could simply flay Labour and David Cunliffe over trusts, but it ended up having to avoid very awkward questions about its own opaque fundraising practices.
What better way to “move the discussion on” from an unpleasant topic than to announce the election date? And – bonus! – a flag referendum, too?
Put it another way: if the weekend’s talk shows and the Monday’s papers had been dedicated solely to dissecting the failings of the left, would Key have really stepped on their mojo with a big announcement? I think he would have let them run their stories a week or two more.
Previously, National reacted to negative headlines by sending Paula Bennet out to bash some bennies. This is the version 2014.
I’m sure the strategy teams in other parties will have taken note of the announcement’s timing, and its cause.