According to them, there was one big loser out of the Northland by-election – where National conspired to lose one of its historically safest seats through wave upon wave of ineptitude, boosting opposition numbers in Parliament and killing National’s RMA changes in the process. And that biggest loser is, according to a bunch of right-wingers, wait for it… the Labour Party!
Because making a strategic call that hurts you major opponent, strengthens your relationship with a possible future coalition partner, and blocks a reform your party opposes sounds catastrophic, right?
The fig leaf they’re clinging to is that the first round of nationwide polls following Northland shows two things: (1) not much change in the nationwide scene; and (2) a personal boost for Peters.
Neither of those things is surprising, of course. For all that Northland occupied the neuroses of political geeks, it will have made not that much impression on anyone else, leading to the steady nationwide picture. But what little people do remember will have been in the form of something like “Winston Peters won something,” which is why Winston ticked up a bit.
The hyperbole around the right on this is pretty amusing. Based on a by-election and a pair of public polls, Matthew Hooton reckons Winston Peters is a contender for PM in 2017. And Rodney Hide reckons he’s usurped Andrew Little as opposition leader already!
Matthew Hooton has also invented a supposed “minimal media” strategy for Andrew Little, using that fiction to claim Little is hiding from New Zealanders. Yesterday, Andrew Little got off a plane from the UK at 6am. By 9am, he was on Q+A. Draw your own conclusions.
The shrillness of the “hey look over there!” narrative coming from the right-hand-side shows just how deep the embarrassment within National is at the Northland campaign and result. They screwed the pooch royally, they know it, and they’re desperate to cast blame every which way to avoid facing that fact head on.
And National’s embarrassment is only going to get worse this month as National Ministers take to the airwaves to defend breaking their most central promise of the last few years.
I guess Labour will be the biggest loser out of that, too, right fellas?
See also Dim-Post
Meanwhile, Matthew Hooton, David Farrar, and whatever National Party spin-doctor wrote Rodney Hide’s HoS column this week have convinced themselves – or, at least, are trying to convince everyone else – that National’s humiliating defeat in the Northland by-election was a disaster for . . . the Labour Party. The logic here is that the two polls subsequent to the election have Labour down, slightly, and Winston Peters is just below Andrew Little as preferred Prime Minister. Northland was a tactical victory, Farrar explains, but a strategic failure.
I still think the big tactical and strategic failure here is the National government giving up its parliamentary majority only a few months into its term by losing one of the safest seats in the country. Spectacular failure, in the face of which Labour’s dip in the polls two-and-a-half years out from an election is as meaningless as, well, English’s budget surplus.