Remember the hagiographies after the first hundred days of National’s first term? In the second term, things couldn’t be more different. The Sunday-Star Times has printed dozens of emails it obtained (a leak?) that were sent to Key opposing the sale of Crafar farms. Many of them are brutal comments from former National supporters. Key didn’t even provide comment for the article.
But Russel Norman, Winston Peters, and David Shearer (in that order, tellingly) all weigh in on why the Crafars issue is hurting National so much. Shearer links National’s determination to sell the farms to Pengxin to its asset sales policy and corporate kickbacks that have legislation for sale – building a picture of a government that will sell everything we have. Norman and Peters talk about Key’s duplicity, how he promised not to make us tenants in our own land then did exactly that, and how he isn’t governing in the nation’s interest but for his own personal aggrandisement.
It’s a devastating combined attack. Many of the points of Key’s character and his government’s objectives that we have been talking about for years manifested around this one issue.
But it’s the emails from National supporters that really do the damage. You should read the full article but the ones that particularly caught my eye were farmers lamenting that foreign buyers are putting farmland out of reach of their children. The likes of Fran O’Sullivan seem to think that foreign zero-interest capital fueling our rural property bubble is a good thing but ordinary Kiwis know that higher prices don’t mean higher wealth production – it just leaves us poorer and more indebted in the long-run.
There is a real sense of betrayal in many of the emails from (now former) National voters who feel they were duped at the election by Key keeping quiet about Crafar farms. This sense of outrage will only grow as the extent of the government’s involvement in Landcorp’s proposal to lease the farms from Pengxin, made before the election, comes to light.
Many of the emails question whether Key will listen, whether he really cares about the public good, whether he even cares about re-election. I would say he doesn’t. National has fallen 10% in the Roy Morgans in the last five months. Re-election ain’t going to happen and Key doesn’t care about the health of the National Party once he’s gone. So, Key will do whatever the hell he wants for the next two and a half years. And he’ll get many more angry emails from former supporters as a result.