Steven Joyce has two big jobs on – lead minister for the Rena disaster (because National still regards this as a transport problem, not an environmental one) and National’s campaign manager, but can realistically only do one. Leaving him with both tasks means Key isn’t taking Rena seriously.
So, does Key replace him as lead minister with Nick Smith and look like the election is more important to him than the oil-spill?
Or does he leave Joyce in charge of the Rena disaster? The problem with doing that is not the loss of a campaign manager but that Joyce is an unloveable, smug prick with a poor record on delivering results*. Can Key afford to leave Joyce muddling along at a snail’s pace, making excuses, withholding information, picking fights with anyone who dares to question him, and generally building public anger?
* What’s that you say? Joyce is meant to be National’s tactical and strategic genius? To use a cliche: yeah, right.
The guy lost the 2005 ‘unlosable election’ because he didn’t see the Brethren issue brewing and it cost the party 5% in the last month. In 2008, National’s polling fall by over 5-10% in the campaign (depending on when you start counting) as he mishandled the asset sales/secret tapes issue. In fact, the final result under Key in 2008 was the same as Brash was polling when he resigned. Repeat those performances and Joyce will be the first National campaign manager to achieve a one-term National government.
Like Don Brash, Joyce doesn’t stand in electorates, even safe ones, because he would cost the party votes. That’s how much of an electoral liability he is.
His most notable achievement in the past year, prior fucking off the whole Bay of Plenty in five days flat, had been to add the stink of corruption to Key’s nightmare past two weeks with the DJ Moonbeam fiasco on RadioLive, which he used to own and which he got a $43 million bail-out from the government.
And his record on delivering policy isn’t so sweet either.
The irony is, Key will be seen as prioritising whichever of the two tasks he lets Joyce keep when, in fact, it’s the one he takes off Joyce that he’ll be doing a favour.