Oh dear. Thirty weeks out from election day, and National still haven’t got their shit together. Nor, as Mark Sainsbury pointed out on TV One, have their strategists learned anything from last year.
Katherine Rich, if she has the tenacity to stick around for another term, has done herself a world of good. Sticking to your principles is a rare and treasured commodity in politics. She’ll go far.
Judith Collins, the one who wants John Banks’ parents’ profession brought back to life, is stepping up as Jenny Shipley II. Another patronising Mother of the Nation has all the appeal of imagining one’s parents having sex.
As far as Don Brash goes, he must be feeling a bit of a Homer Simpson right now. Which is a bit of a pity. If he listened more to his gut than his Goneril, he has the possibility of winning a minority government this year.
Although I have never been formally introduced to Don Brash, I have had the chance to view him first hand on a number of occasions. The TV public persona of Geoffrey Palmer nerdiness does no justice to conversational Brash. He is a pragmatist with wit, and he knows a bit about gambling from his days at the Reserve Bank.
The current path is the safe bet, trying to hedge those safe seats and pick up the Fear and Loathing vote from… somewhere. The Nats have never got on with the Maoris, with the exception of Rob Muldoon. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain with Orewa I – A New Hope. Brash has disenfranchised a significant chunk of that support with Orewa II – A Nightmare on Elm Grove.
Bashing DPB Mums is not the best way to win brownie points. Not only does it piss off the solo Mums, but will annoy more Soccer Mums in net scheme of things. Kicking the only chick off the front bench is saying to our egalitarian households, “Although women make up half the population, we can’t find a single smart one to sit with the boys.” Half the population is a big minority vote to isolate.
To win an electorate, you aim at the incumbent’s record not the punters. Governments are voted out, not in. Attack the policies and outcomes.
For instance, between 2000 and 2003 the total number of women and children recorded by Women’s Refuge has increased by almost 50 percent. This is stuff Labour is supposed to be good at, and they are not. The social policy meant to paper over society’s cracks are failing. Katherine Rich would support that attack in a way Judith Collins won’t.
Unless Don Brash sets a mouse trap, he will sow the seeds of his undoing. Murray McCully must be replaced as strategist if Brash is to avoid a Rich, “Hungry”& Power-led post-election coup (“Hungry” = Gerry Brownlee). This would mean yet another bloodletting and frankly the Nats have a shallow talent pool for yet another leader.
Simon Power still has a bit to learn about falling off his bike before he gets pole position. Katherine Rich needs a couple more lessons too. Hungry is best suited to being a bouncer, not the DJ. The rest of the front bench are past their peak and yesterday’s men (Bill English), or Baby MPs such as John Key.
The tragedy lies in the thought that Don Brash does not truly believe the sentiment behind some of his words. From what I have observed, he is quite a social and economic liberal. Don Brash Unplugged could grab a hefty slice of Labour’s support, if only he was just himself. Alas once again, it seems not.