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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Kill the head and the body will die? National Party in a death spiral as rodents exit the building!

Like some exotic murder mystery the bodies just keep piling up. But did they jump or were they pushed?

Another National MP (Craig Foss) has decided to pull the plug and not stand for re-election and Audrey Young’s article in the Herald makes it clear that there are now four ministerial vacancies and 10% of electoral seats up for grabs.

But are they going because they know that without Key they have no chance of winning the 2017 election alone (ie without having to make some sort of nightmare deal with Winston Peters) or is someone giving them the nudge? Is this a deliberate reshuffle by English now, before the holidays set in, to get all the deadwood (well some of the deadwood*) out of the way so that the voting public will be acclimatized to the new faces come next year or is this something more sinister?

It sounds rather absurd but given the incredible rumors and speculations that have reached my shell-likes in the last week this is a rather sound question to ask.

Earlier this week I managed to drag myself out of an all-day meeting in Wellington to catch up with my friend, and astute Wellingtonian, Q to discuss all things political over a quick lunch in Johns Kitchen (one of the capitals hidden gems).

The decor has the ambiance of a 1960s tea room and the food while unspectacular to look at is solid and fills one up. Also it seems exclusively filled with middle aged male civil servants whenever I eat there, so if you like white Formica, sandwiches that look like bricks (and weigh as much) and the low murmur of government business being discussed this is the place for you.

So in an old haunt from previous times, where you can have a hushed conversation over a cheese roll, meat pie and old school milkshakes (complete with “the longest drink in town” giraffe running down the side) without being overheard we discussed the latest developments.

First up the rumors, and there have been a few, were discussed. Most of these are simple speculation and clearly have little basis in reality but a few have struck a resonant chord with reality while others have the air of the fantastical.

The most amazing (and to me completely unbelievable) one I have heard was that John Key and Hekia Parata had been having an affair and after it ended badly he fired her and she then threatened to expose him so he choose to get out with his reputation intact (well sort of). Q, laughed at that one but did ask me where I had heard it.

Others include that Key is being blackmailed by an insider clique in the National Party management to remove him (and any others not down with a Trump style return to pure right wing, free-market neo-liberal politics) as National reinvents itself as a party of the right and Judith Collins is elected PM in 2017.  

This one may have some demented truth behind it but again seems more science fiction than political fact.

More plausible is the simple dynamic that with Keys mana off the table the rot that lay just beneath his bland veneer is exposed and like opening a fridge to the putrid stink of rotting vegetables and long expired dairy products the whole decaying edifice comes oozing out in congealed lumps to splatter across the floor (and ones shoes).

This I feel is the true reality of the situation but with the simple caveat that the matter of Keys circumstances are unusual given his declared want to have a fourth term, his high polling popularity and the current strength of the National party under his leadership.

We may never know the actual reason for the star quarterback to suddenly decide to quit halfway through the championship season with the team on the way to a win at the finals and rumors will persist but most simply do not take into account the level of degeneracy in the party and how Key was holding all this foul smelling filth and corruption together by his will alone, the toll on any person, even a necromancer King like Key, would be high.

That, and reasons aside, we now have the rats leaving the ship and one can almost hear the salivation factor in the opposition parties increase at the prospect of more juicy electorates to liberate from National.

What we are going to get is the crystallized remains of the worst of the National party (Collins, Brownlee, Bennett, Smith, Joyce and English) as the outer shell with a layer of untested crud just behind and then finally the foul pestilence of the parties internal working (dirty politics, black opps and dirty money) as the dark core of the turd that Key has left on the Christmas welcome mat.

The odds of this turd going down well with the electoral palette is zero and those cutting a rug know this which is why they are leaving in such haste.

Q’s assessment of the situation was simpler than mine and it was him hinting at the darker secrets of something we don’t not know rather than being dreamt up in my fervid imagination and to which he based this on the simple fact that no other NZ PM in history has left the job in this fashion (few ever willingly concede power and what politician leaves when their popularity is still high?) and that the word around the capital is that while Key got to choose the timing of his exit he did not get to choose if went or stayed.

Of course it’s all just speculation and we will probably never know, although I would love to, but what is known is how bad things are for National.

The B team, as Bill and Bennett are now being dubbed, are already being savaged in the media and elsewhere and no pseudo-scientific polling of online comments sections (certainly not Stuffs “well mediated” contents section) is going to hide the mess that Key has left.

National has been here before with Shipley in the wake of Bolger, English in the wake of Shipley, Brash in the (bloodied) wake of English and with the cycle of greedy sycophants sliding onto the still warm (and recently vacated) throne only broken by the emergence of Key as Politicosaurus Rex in the mid-2000s.

So we may never know whats going on deep in the bowels of the National Party S&M dungeon but something is going on behind those closed doors and while incompetent MPs like Sam Lotu Liga are clearly being pushed others like Foss and Parata as less definite.

Both the final guess of Q and myself was that Key had been heading one faction in the party and that something (or someone) drove him from the game and what we are seeing now is a rather large shift inside the party as rouge elements are being rounded up and eliminated as the party transforms back into its true form as an obvious vehicle for enacting unfettered market agendas without any social conscience or moral restraint.

So I am going to predict right here and now that National is going to be annihilated in the next election and Winston Peters and all the small parties are going to be the ones that decide the next government.

This is the end for the last remnants of the FPP mentality which lead to the norms of two party politics and it’s the end of personality politics in NZ until the next dynamic and charismatic politician can make their way up the ranks to capture the public heart at the polling booth.

For now the lesser players get to shine out on the AstroTurf like some demented political version of the Bad News Bears.

Key things to watch for (no pun intended) in the future are the smaller political parties making ground in every way shape and form. 

Expect the narrative to slip away from both National and Labour as the smaller faster players zip round the two lumbering behemoths (wheezing about like a hideously corpulent politician in a rugby shirt) while they catch the public imagination or simply seed further doubt in the voters’ minds with no clear choice coming Election Day.

Expect Peters and Morgan to face off sooner or later as Gareth Morgans clash with right wing talking head and all round douche Paul Henry showed that he is more than ready to play the FukYoo Politix card as much as possible.

Expect the Greens to use the summer to quietly go about their business and start capturing the relevant issues, like water rights and destruction of rivers, under their banner while the housing hernia swells a bit more and child poverty get all the lip service that politicians can give in public with no actual action being taken.

Even Maori and Mana can do well if they can figure an alternate plan to the current one (suck up to National) as a unified and committed Maori Political vehicle has plenty of potential to tap into many of those who currently do not vote and may just do so if they thought their interests would be genuinely represented.

Watch as National and Labour try to keep a brave face on things as National starts to dip into the inevitable death spiral towards low polling and Labour does (Andrew) Little (pun intended) except to lay out the welcome mat to the hell zone that is life with a terminal case of middling poll results and moribund leadership.

Whats worth keeping in mind is that it’s the smaller players that will decide the outcome of the next election, not Labour and certainly not National and the only thing that will reverse this is the rise of some messianic politician who can play the personality card to perfection.

National may become the next government but it will only be with Winston’s (or Gareth’s) backing while Labour will be nervously looking around and desperately trying to make eye contact with anyone to secure enough to cobble together a new government.

An interesting scenario would be NZ First and National banding together on one side of the house with The Greens and Labour on the other while Morgan and Maori zip between the two casting the deciding votes (ala Peter Dunne) on various issues.

This is a potential interesting development for both the mechanics of the House but also for NZ politics as a big chunk of the FPP headache is swept away for a more plural politics but for now let’s enjoy the car crash spectacle of National falling apart like the shambling husk that it always was.

*- see my post (here) from two months ago where I looked at what other things made up the National Party beside Key and the issues with any attempts to promote the back-row. Little did I know how dangerous that would become now that a lot more is at stake


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Not bad, but maybe less details about your personal life. Politics is interesting, but your lunch plans aren't.

  3. Hi Sheev

    I will try to limit my personal flourishes but no promises.

    Glad you find the idea of true multiparty politics interesting as I do also.

    1. I disagree, more lunch, less politics. Today I'm going to have soup!

  4. Mmmmm, soup. John's Kitchen does good soup in winter.