ENGLISH: So we’re sitting here saying the punters are keen to keep it. They’re facing a recession. The last thing we want is to spend the whole election campaign with families of four on TV saying ‘Mr Key’s taking money off us’. You can’t do that. So later on we’re gonna have to have a bit of a sort out. Yeah, we’re gonna do something, but we can’t do it now…
DELEGATE: What about getting rid of Kiwibank, I mean
ENGLISH: Well, eventually, but not now. Well, its working. A lot of our supporters get a bit antsy about it, but it’s working. It’s like a lot of things
The common interpretation of the “but it’s working” quote is that English is talking about Kiwibank. It is the interpretation John Key gave on Monday morning last week and most people simply followed him, but that’s wrong. Look at the context. English has explained to someone who purportedly opposes Kiwibank and Working for Families that National is accepting them, for now, because they don’t want to (in Lockwood Smith’s words) “scare the horses”, they don’t want to raise opposition to that “nice Mr Key”. It is this strategy that English is saying is working – the strategy of “swallowing dead fish” (Lockwood again), being “in neutralise phase” as Nick Smith put it. How is it working? By getting those “Labour plus voters” supporting National. English acknowledges that some National supporters are “antsy” about taking on so many Labour policies but he argues winning those Labour plus votes so National gets into power is more important. The Labour policies can then be “sorted out”, “eventually”.
Now that the strategy has been exposed by English so cynically in his own words, the question is: will it keep on working or will National find itself minus those ‘Labour plus’ voters?