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Observations in passing

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 pm, May 14th, 2009 - 13 comments
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I’m a little re-created – some mysteriousness with my profile means I am re-defined “similar but different” for the time being. But I haven’t stopped reading and I thought these were an interesting series of observations on the current state of play:

Colin Espiner: This is, without a doubt, National’s worst week in government. And it’s only Thursday…For unless Lee pulls off a remarkable reversal in her fortunes, she is set to bomb so badly in Mt Albert that it could damage any future ministerial hopes she may have. I also doubt she can count on much help from the Beehive from here on in. Partly this will be her own fault. But it’s partly National’s, too. It should have been more protective of one of its rising stars, rather than needlessly throwing her to the lions.

Gordon Campbell: Melissa Lee’s emergence as the poster child of the Key government is so apt, it makes the process of politics seem karmically ordained. It is rare indeed to find arrogance and ignorance combined so exquisitely in the one harsh and clanging package, and the P.R. crew down at National party head office must be thinking that polling day in Mt Albert just can’t come soon enough, to get her off the front pages. Talk about himbos leading bimbos. The image of Lee’s ministerial mentor Jonathan Coleman silently mouthing instructions for her to say ‘I don’t know’ at last night’s election meeting, and then to have Lee dutifully repeating ‘I don’t know’ to a questioner only seconds later, was an example of political post-modernism to treasure for the ages.

Vernon Small: …for the first time since the election, there was evidence that the Cabinet is, intentionally or otherwise, starting to splurge some of that political capital for the first time. The decision to scrap Auckland’s Waterview Connection tunnel may be fiscally prudent, but it is a fair bet the tears will be hotter for those displaced from their homes – something anyone, anywhere can sympathise with – than for the alternative; an extra billion of debt. The rush to change the structure of Auckland local government may also prove costly, though the need for change is well made and accepted. But exhibit one was the decision to appoint Christine Rankin to the Families Commission. On any objective assessment, it is political lunacy. If the answer was Ms Rankin, it is anyone’s guess what the question was.

Audrey Young: Dear oh dear oh dear. Can things get any worse for National this week? There have been so many cock-ups it’s hard to know where to start. It’s as though the Government training manual only lasted to the end of April. Prime Minister John Key’s announcement today that his Govt will spend $50 million over the next three years on the cycleway completely contradicts what Finance Minister Bill English said on national television on April 5.

John Armstrong: Reinstated on Labour’s front bench last week, the long-serving Hutt South MP, former Cabinet minister and current education spokesman is certainly making his presence felt in Parliament once more – but not in the manner expected….National MPs know they will have to just grin and bear it. For Mallard will be back trying to get under their skins when the House sits today. And the next day it sits. And the next …

Actually similar but different is a good description of this week so far. National – a popular government but I sense something just turning in the wind….

13 comments on “Observations in passing ”

  1. r0b 1

    You missed one:

    Duncan Garner: Melissa Lee has lost the Mt Albert by-election. She has been a walking, talking disaster all week. Her latest suggestion that the Waterview Motorway will stop South Auckland criminals from coming into the Mt Albert electorate is a howler! She’d be better to stop campaigning now. She might in fact lift her vote.

    My but Tim Elllis is going to have a busy day tomorrow! So many fires to fight. Anyway, thanks for the overview Dancer, I’m sure Lynn will sort out your profile thing, but in the mean time being re-defined every now and then doesn’t sound too bad!

  2. John Dalley 2

    A One term National Government starting to look more likely.

    • r0b 2.1

      Yes, it’s interesting to compare where National are now, to where Labour were six months in to government in 2000. National have squandered their honeymoon on an abuse of democracy in Auckland, and this fiasco of a candidate in Mt Albert.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    Duncan Garner’s – ouch!

    It’s unlikely that the media would have been as tough on Lee if National had not earlier been so stupid and arrogant with Rankin’s appointment, the ‘Super City’ steamroller, and other matters. The novice candidate is facing the flak, but her leaders had already stirred up the press gallery from their slumber. Suddenly, it was OK to ask National what the hell they were doing.

    It took a long time, but the media have finally woken up. Good.

  4. toad 4

    Audrey Young: Can things get any worse for National this week?

    They just did! “Immigration investigator names MP in pay-off suspicion”.

    • gobsmacked 4.1

      From the story Toad links to:

      “Prime Minister John Key would not comment last night, but a spokesman said he accepted the explanation given to Mr Guy.”

      ‘Accept’ seems to have become John Key’s favourite verb. How many MPs had he ‘accepted’ a story from, so far? I’ve lost count. Does he still “look them in the eye”, as promised, or does he delegate eye contact to his flunkies?

      (And, to the inevitable “nyah-nyah other lot other lot” response, you’ll need to multiply by 18. It’s been six months, not nine years).

  5. IrishBill 5

    Listening to Key on morning report was painful. On the matter of the non-disclosure of Lee’s video he actually went as far as to say it was a matter for the National party, not the parliamentary arm. He’s the leader of the National Party FFS!

    • bilbo 5.1

      Yes almost as absurd as HC suggesting she had nothing to do with Mike Williams flight of fancy to Melbourne.

  6. The Voice of Reason 6

    So, is the honeymoon over? Just heard John Boy on National Radio admitting Lee was toast and talking down Spankin’ Rankin (only one voice of 7 on the board, wibble wibble).

    Last night I watched a government with a whopping majority fail miserably to get the Super City legislation through, thanks to some Groundhog Day style filibustering from Labour. A series of amendments, each one suggesting a slightly different day for implementation, took an eternity to work through and the Nats looked more and more pissed off as the night wore on.

    This has been a crap week for National, Act and, happily, the Maori Party, who are now coming to terms with the downside of selling out.

    Terrific stuff, the next election can’t come soon enough!

  7. In 2004/5 George W Bush said he had political capital and he was going to spend it. In line with my hypothesis that National is just as blind as Bush was to the serious flaws in both their world view and the policies that extend from it, they appear to be determined to throw away the 3%-4% it would take to see them lose the Beehive in 2011. People who don’t like them should, I supppose, let them get on with that, though the downside is we all have to suffer the consequences of fairly obvious (to anyone but them) error.

    Their series of errors in recent weeks will take time to bear their bitter fruit, but unless something major happens, that fruit appears to be programmed in.

    As for Auckland, the point many seem to gloss over isn’t about the amalgamation. It’s about the shape of it. The 20 councillors where their used to be over 100 is a major reduction in democracy – and thus accountability. Even worse, they will be elected by First past the Post, so we may see a majority of the Council controlled by people elected by less than 30% of all voters. I know the National Party is all in favour of a minority having absolute power, but I’m not and nor are many other people.

    That isn’t parochialism. It’s democracy at its most basic……and National consistently demonstrate they do not like democracy. That means, they don’t like us. All of us. Including their own voters.

    That National collectively have poor judgement is already obvious: Murray McCully, Tony Ryall and Judith Collins are all MPs *and* cabinet ministers. Little more need be said on that subject. Melissa Lee is just more in a long series of examples of poor judgement.

    Next year, we may be treated to the bizarre spectacle of National party voters in safe Labour seats like Mana and mt Albert voting against MMP and thus making their own votes worthless in future.

    You have to be crazy to hate your own vote. That’s the sort of thing we see from Islamic extremists who vote the Imams into power so there won’t be any more elections. Faith over reason……Kiwi-style. An extreme metaphor, but it captures the sense of it. Yielding up future accountability in an irrational display of faith in those who stand before you today.

  8. the sprout 8

    what’s turning, or rather swinging, in the wind, is National’s hopes of a second term.
    when they’re this far behind at this stage of their first term, they’re beyond salvage for 2011.

    • Maynard J 8.1

      Let us not get too excited, people. A couple of good weeks and National will be back smiling, but a bit more tainted.

      There is plenty of gloss yet to rub off. Predictions like this just make it worse when they rebound, so I suggest enjoying the show while it lasts, hope that there is a decent encore , and that the next tour date of The National Disaster is not too far behind it.

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