National’s in retreat on every front. Its had to break its economic promises, again. Asset sales are a disaster. Ministers are exposed over the Crafar Farms, NZ on Air, and DJ Key affairs. The media’s gone off Key ever since he declared war on them. The bad stories that were getting nowhere a year ago now keep rolling. Even Mallard’s boorishness can’t halt National’s slide.
Politics does have tides, and high tide for National was in late 2009 when it was averaging 55% in the 3-month rolling average of Roy Morgans. But it took an awful long time for support to really drain. The rolling average was still 52.5% on election day. But only 47.5% ticked National in the end. They lost 5% in those final two weeks to NZF and the Conservatives. And it’s kept going out since then. 47% and 46% in January, their lowest results since November 2008. And that was before the last couple of weeks during which everything has gone wrong, very wrong, for National.
Of course, you would have to be a complete moron to believe that means National is sunk in 2014. Which is why I’m worried that Pagani and Shearer’s other strategists are already popping the champagne.
Joyce and Key are two of the wiliest buggers you’ll ever meet. And they know they need a third term to lock-in the ideological reforms they’re planning for this term. They will have a strategy.
It will be re-casting Key as the statesman – a serious man for serious times. Underneath that new Brand Key, there will be heavy dog-whistling against the poor and Maori (so often conflated in Pakeha minds anyway) through, for example, benefit ‘reforms’ and the Treaty water rights issue.
They will no longer be dreaming of knocking the Greens out of Parliament and wasting 4% of the Left vote. Instead, they will keep up with discrediting Shearer as a potential Prime Minister Something Labour seems happy to assist with, having him play second fiddle to Peters, Robertson, and Norman and, incredibly, not having him in the House Thursday to smash home the hits made on Crafar Farms.
Joyce and Key will calculate that, ultimately, people won’t go into the voting booth and tick Labour if they don’t believe in Shearer as a leader. They will further bet that not enough middle-class swing voters will be comfortable with voting with the Greens – even with their new, professional image – and that a lot of the swing vote will just stay home, which is next best to voting National in their eyes.
If worse comes to worse and they look like losing because Key’s brand is ruined, I expect Key would jump before Joyce pushed him. Funnily enough, Shearer might go if he looks unelectable too. Could be a question of which one gets rolled first in 2013.
So, yeah, its been a nightmare fortnight for National. But lets see the Left’s strategy to make it a nightmare three years. What is it they want voters to think when they think Shearer and when they think Labour or Greens, and when they think Key and National? And what lines are they going to use over and over again until they become true just like ‘tired and bereft of ideas’ did?
Cause the Nats aren’t just going to roll over and die.