Slater/Lusk are spending a hell of a lot of time talking about how the Key Government’s one-seat majority is at stake if a dissatisfied, bored backbencher decides to quit (and, in the ongoing Collins v Joyce leadership jockeying, the blame is always put on Joyce). One name that keeps popping up is Sam Lotu-Iiga. I understand the next stage will be a ‘Draft Sam’ faux mayoral campaign.
Now, Lotu-Iiga doesn’t have the support to run a successful Supercity campaign – but getting him to run isn’t the goal of the online campaign that rumour has it Slater/Lusk are preparing. It’s all about scaring the bejesus out of Key and Joyce so that they will give Lotu-Iiga a ministerial portfolio.
That, in turn, would strengthen Collins’ hand in a future leadership tussle by giving her another minister in her camp.
If true, it’s an audacious play: a leadership contender and a backbencher trying to hold the PM to ransom with a fake mayoral bid. But I just don’t think it will work. Key would surely see through any amateur hour online campaign to draft Lotu-Iiga. You can’t fake a groundswell with a website (just ask Chris Bishop and Philip Morris’s laughable “my opinion counts” website) – especially when Slater’s involved because he’s just such a D-grade propagandist. Everything he does is so transparent, and he has so many internal enemies that nothing he does stays secret.
From the Left’s perspective, what’s more interesting is that the knives are once again out in National as the Joyce and Collins camps position themselves for a leadership race. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen tomorrow. The early bird wins the coup. But it does show that senior Nats and their operatives are now spending a lot of time thinking about the post-Key world. They’re seeing a defeat in 2014, too.
The choices are crystallising as Joyce and Collins. I think the Left will be happy to see National stuck with either of them.