In the wake of an agenda-setting Labour party conference, which has been well received by delegates, Labour activists, and the broader media alike, there is one lone voice out of step. That voice is John Key, using his favourite softball Breakfast TV session to peddle his lame theory that Goff’s leadership is under threat from Andrew Little. Sorry John, I think that you were the only one at that conference!
Anyway, Key should be looking to his own back, with signs of growing discontent within National. According to Sarah Harvey in the Sunday Star Times:
Is John Key a lone ranger?
JOHN KEY is one of the country’s most popular prime ministers of all time, crossing the political divide, but sources within his National Party say there are concerns the public is beginning to perceive the party as a one-man band. …
One National MP, who asked not to be named, said there were concerns within parliament that the party had been reduced to The John Key Show.
“The Act debacle over David Garrett and the election in Auckland of a mayor from a Labour background has got a few people concerned.
“There is a bit of a concern that there is John, and thank goodness for that, but not too much below him. I mean, it’s hard to know how many people could actually name the deputy prime minster,” the MP said.
I wonder if the identity of this lone MP (one of The Hollow Men leakers perhaps?) will come to light. But whomever he/she is, they have put their finger right on two big problems for National.
First, National have over-invested in brand Key. As the promised “aggressive recovery” turns to the custard of economic pain, people will increasingly realise that there is nothing behind the smile-and-wave brand.
And second, National’s talent pool is only puddle deep. Who else can National front to the public? English is unimaginative and thoroughly discredited, everything Brownlee touches turns to rubbish, then we’re down to the Tolleys and Bennetts — it’s just not an inspiring lineup. The reason that National is sold to the public as a one man band is that there really isn’t any alternative.
With a rejuvenated Labour talking bold new policy, and with National’s failure on the economy growing ever more evident, is the power of “brand Key” alone enough to carry the Nats to a win in 2011? I for one don’t think so.