Written By: - Date published: 11:32 pm, February 17th, 2016 - 110 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, john key, Judith Collins, national, Politics - Tags: flag referendum, john key, judith collins, leaks
It’s been a while coming, but it may well be that the Collins coup is underway. She’s finally found an issue that John Key can’t just shrug off; the flopping flag referendum. Key’s offside with the majority of Kiwis and it’s caused a serious split in his caucus.
Patrick Gower has been leaked a series of sadly desperate emails from Key loyalist Maggie Barry, who has been charged with trying to breathe some life into the flag change campaign.
Key can’t do it himself, because he doesn’t like be seen with losers. The problem is, this time, he’s the loser.
In the emails, Barry asks her fellow MP’s to join her for breakfast to discuss how to encourage a flag change.
Humorously, she exhorts them to take the opportunity to “share our proven and effective ways to engage people in an informed debate“. That must have puzzled the recipients of the email, given that this Government has never bothered with informed debate before.
Barry’s first email went out to almost the entire caucus. The response can’t have been flash, as a follow up email only went to 30 MP’s. In the end, only ten turned up. That’s cringe worthy.
According to Gower, this is the first ever leak from within the National caucus. It’s the first time someone from within Team Key has broken ranks to humiliate him. I reckon it won’t be the last.
Now, Judith Collins probably wasn’t the leaker, at least not directly. But there can’t be much doubt she’s in on it and is happy to see Key squirm. She knows his judgement was faulty on this issue and months of meh have left him looking out of touch with Kiwis.
Key’s problem is that his ego has led him into this mess. Pride, as we know, comes before the fall. He’s tried to bat it away, saying “MPs meet all the time about issues, we don’t have a caucus position (on the flag) because it’s essentially from our point of view a conscience view.”
Leaving aside the tortured language, I can’t be the only one wondering if National MP’s are all that practised at exercising their conscience. There’s little evidence that they have ever so much as taken their conscience for a walk in recent years. Independent thinking is not the norm in the Key caucus.
And when did it become a matter of conscience anyway? National MP’s weren’t given a choice when the flag legislation went through parliament. They were forced to vote in favour of wasting the $26 million on a referendum NZ doesn’t want.
His MP’s also have a bigger problem. Conservative leaning National voters don’t want a bar of the referendum. They’re going to vote alright, but, for the first time, they are going to vote against Key. If you want to know what that leads to, look to the north. The result of the Northland by-election wasn’t a fluke. Smart-arsery only gets you so far and when your political judgement goes, you go too.
Labour leader Andrew Little has spotted the problem, suggesting National MPs are getting it in the neck from their constituents.
“But the problem they’ve got, of course, is the train’s left the station” Little says. “The referendum’s in a couple of weeks’, I’m not quite sure what they think they can do about it.”
Tory MP’s in marginal seats will be starting to wonder what they can do about it too. Not about the flag referendum, but about saving their seats. History tells us National voters send a blunt and brutal message when they think it’s time for a change. There will be more MP’s in the divided National caucus thinking that a leadership change now would be better than a change forced on them by voters.
Leaks from caucus are nothing new in NZ politics. But this show of disloyalty is definitely new for Key. He’s going to hate being grilled by the media about this leak and the caucus crisis it has exposed.
For once, he won’t be saying “Labour did it too”.
Because we all know how that ended for Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe.
What they do, they smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers, back stabbers.
They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers, back stabbers