Sunday, September 17, 2006

Likely Candidates.

The best way to get hits on NZ blog these days is to post just three words.

"Don, Brash, affair"
After months of no bugger reading this blog last week I had a sudden surge and those were the words responsible. What an irresponsible bunch of gossips you are! Anyway the beast must be sated so here's some more for you to digest.

The question everyone has been asking in Parliament since Wednesday is who was the person that leaked the caucus tiff over Don Brash's alleged affair to the media? My initial suspect was Rakaia MP Brian Connell as he's a loose cannon, no friend of Dr Brash, and the type of person who would do him a bad turn if the opportunity presented itself. But it seems I owe Brian an apology as it seems while he did have the argument he wasn't the one that leaked it. Caucus rumour is that it was someone with a much longer political history.

So here are our suspects:

John Key.

John Key is the man everybody is picking to be the next leader of the National Party. He's a good debater, more than holds his own against the Minister of Finance Dr Michael Cullen, and is popular with the public. A self made millionaire he's the perfect man to connect with the ordinary bloke and big business. He's been playing down his leadership aspirations but it's an open secret he wants the job one day. However it's unlikely he's the leak. Caucus rumour says it's someone with extensive political experience and Key is only in his second term as an MP. For the time being we can rule him out.

Gerry Brownlee.

Suspect number two is the Party's current Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee. He fits the bill for the political experience rumour as he's been around for quite a while now. Also he's another that's been known to hold strong aspirations for the leader's job. Hopwever the subtle machination of the leak, setting up Brian Connell as the fall-guy suggests Gerry Brownlee is not the culprit. This is not a reflection on the man's intelligence but it's not his style. Brownlee is a debater and a brawler and takes the shortest route to his goals. Convoluted plotting is not something he's known for.

Bill English.

Now this is the guy who I think has to be the prime suspect. My reason are as follows; He was formerly the Leader of the National Party until he was rolled by Dr Brash after losing the 2002 election. National's support from the business community evaporated largely because of the campaign being run by the Business Roundtable for installing Dr Brash as leader - no Brash = no money. The coup that rolled Bill English cut deep and it showed as it was some time before he was back to his effective best on the opposition benches. He's never said it publicly but it's well known if he could get his own job back he'd grab it in a flash. Bill English has the best motive of the lot, revenge. He also has political experience when it comes to rolling party leaders .... remember Jenny Shipley?

The problem our leadership hopeful has (whoever he may be) is there's been a lot of public sympathy for Dr Brash following the affair accusations. To make a move for the leadership will be seen by many as cynical and underhanded, not a good move if you want public support to win the next election. This leaves two options; One, persuade Dr Brash to leave now on the basis his credibility is gone. Or two, run a long term low level destabilisation campaign until it's simply untenable for Dr Brash to remain. By then sufficient time will have passed to be distanced from the Caucus leak.

Given Dr Brash's intention to stay and fight it looks like option two is the one that will be played out. We'll just have to wait and see.

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