The most surprising thing to come of the National’s Kiwisaver fiasco is not that they want to undermine the scheme and get employers out of paying their part (this is the party of big business, after all). No, the real shock is to learn that Kate Wilkinson, National’s Industrial Relations spokesperson, is not involved in developing National’s policy on the biggest new work rights issue of the past year and ‘ignorant’, in Key’s words, of the policy.
This is just incredible: National spokespeople not developing policy in the major issues under their portfolio and not even informed by the leadership of what that policy is. It fits though, with what a couple of drunk National backbenchers told a reader one night ‘John doesn’t really know what he wants to do if (when, hah!) he becomes Prime Minister and he certainly hasn’t told us!’
Policy development is in the hands of a few senior Nats (assuming that someone is developing National policy). The fact that National is not sharing the load as normal can only have one explanation the leadership does not trust the caucus because the caucus is opposed to Key’s policy direction. That certainly meshes with the stories of internal ructions we keep hearing. Like the Rogernome faction that controlled Labour in the 1980s, a small band within National is controlling policy, keeping the rest of the party and the country in the dark.
The results of such cabal politics were disastrous for Labour in the 1980s, and it looks like it’s starting to damage National too.
[incidentally, what a world where a party is scared to announce its own policy and its opposition is keen for it to see the public light. Both National and its opponents believe that if people know what National wants to do in government it will cost the party support]