If National lose in Northland (and despite the polls I still find it hard to believe that a party machine that well resourced and that desperate can be beaten) then the main casualty will be the myth of the “Key magic”. John Armstrong still believes in it:
Key magic will struggle to stop Peters juggernaut
The Prime Minister returns from Japan today and will head north to campaign for Osborne. But it is difficult to envisage how the John Key magic can turn this byelection around with just two days to go.
But it seems that the people of Northland do not:
John Key heckled in Northland
Prime Minister John Key has headed straight to Dargaville today after returning from Japan, only to be heckled by Northland by-election voters.
Radio New Zealand reporter Benedict Collins, in Northland, said Mr Key was heckled during a 20 minute walk along the street meeting locals, and was shown placards saying ‘Vote Winston’.
One woman said, “Don’t bother talking to me. I’ve already voted, I voted for Winston Peters … because we’ve been neglected here for the last 37 years.” …
The well informed Selwyn Manning has an interesting discussion of the fractures and factions appearing within National as the buy election exposes their weaknesses.
McCullum’s power-base is Northland. And Collins loyalists bided their time and blocked him from getting his way during the National Party Northland candidacy selections. The most Machiavellian of them suggest a loss in Northland will diminish Steven Joyce’s power, create instability for the leader John Key, and demonstrate that they cannot control the party outside of Wellington.
In simple terms, National is demonstrating third term disconnect, division among its factions, and pomposity and arrogance – something the newly re-elected Prime Minister John Key warned his party about in his post-election speeches.
The National Party insiders say there are “many questions” circulating among the Nats, including:
(a) John Key’s judgment and credibility after the 2014 win particularly his promotion of former MP Mike Sabin to chair the Law and Order Select Committee.
(b) Joyce’s “diabolical mismanagement of the Northland by-election campaign”.
Regarding Joyce: “There are really brutal comments flowing from some quarters.”
Plenty more in the full piece at Evening Report. If National do lose it’s going to be an interesting time for Nat-watchers.