- Date published:
11:31 am, August 7th, 2014 - 19 comments
Categories: colin craig, election 2014, Gerry Brownlee, grant robertson, national, Parliament, Steven Joyce - Tags: john armstrong, opinion, polity, tracy watkins
Opinion columns are leading indicators.
I have noticed a modest shift int he political climate in recent days. The perception is that sticking a fork in this election may be premature, something I have been saying for a while.
You see it play out in the major media opinion columns. here are two examples from the last day or two. First, here is the Herald’s John Armstrong:
The Government’s handling of the [Lochinver] matter since Colin Craig, the Conservative Party leader, revealed last Friday the sale was under way has not been flash for a party on the verge of an election campaign where National’s allowance for gaffes and mistakes is roughly zero.
Steven Joyce put National firmly on course for getting on the wrong side of public opinion by declaring the near 14,000ha property was a “ridiculously small piece of land”. That gaffe was compounded by Joyce’s appalling display during a so-called debate on TV3’s The Nation last Saturday. Joyce constantly and relentlessly hectored, badgered and interrupted Labour’s Grant Robertson. The latter should be happy though. Joyce came across as National Party arrogance personified….
The difficulty for National is that there is little flexibility to tighten the rules without instituting bans on sales of prime land. And that is not a message National wishes to send to foreign investors.
Armstrong is right that National’s margin is slim, that Joyce was dreadful, and that National is wedged on land sales.
Even Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Cabinet fixer Steven Joyce seemed to suffer early from “campaign brain” – Joyce has been the talk of the Beehive after losing his rag on TV3’s The Nation in a debate with Labour’s Grant Robertson, while Brownlee’s airport blunder could yet come back to bite National if he is charged over bypassing airport security.
Meanwhile, the pre-election fiscal update later this month could further erode perceptions of the end of the golden weather, if Treasury is forced to revise down some of its rosier forecasts.
The only certainty is that the surplus will remain intact, if only because it has become National’s talisman promise. But there will be questions about whether it is largely smoke and mirrors.
No wonder Labour is launching its campaign early this weekend. Six weeks out from the election, it seems ridiculously early. But factored into its thinking is the convention that campaigns can be great levellers. And the longer the campaign goes, the more chance it has of pushing National off-script.
Again, Joyce makes the news for the wrong reasons. Brownlee’s airport indiscretion is, in my view, less serious than his oversight of the pork-barreling on regional roads. But maybe that because I’m a nerd.
And on the campaign launches, recall it was National, not Labour, that decided the House should rise two weeks before it had to, giving more space for the election campaign. Perhaps it should a longer campaign would just bore people into acquiescence. Instead, it appears to be giving opposition parties more room to showcase their policy, more room for National to showcase its arrogance, and more time for the polls to close.
Also read: Polity on Key/waffle vs Parker/facts where John Key parrots Steven Joyce’s silly waffle that about NZ having a more diversified economy under a National government. I guess he thinks that repeating bullshit will make it come true?