Sunday, November 26, 2006

John and Bill

Well it looks like the National Party's Caucus meeting tomorrow will be a bit of a non-event. The deal's been done and it'll be a John Key/Bill English ticket following Gerry Brownlee pulling out of the Deputy Leadership race earlier today. I look forward to seeing how this partnership works out.

I say this because I know (courtesy of my Molesworth mole) that English had been merrily destabilising both Brash and Key in recent months. His tactic was fairly simple, keep putting out rumours about Key doing the numbers for a coup even when none was being planned. Not only did this undermine Brash it also made Key look indecisive when a leadership challenge failed to eventuate. The most recent example of this was a little over two weeks ago when Brsh was in Europe. On the Friday the Otago Daily Times ran a story about Key doing the numbers over the weekend with the intention of rolling Brash. It turned out to be baseless. An example of the Dipton Drawler pulling the strings of the Political Editor at the ODT.

Now if you were John Key ask yourself this; is this the guy you'd want as your number two?

The strategising that's being going on in the National Party ranks since Brash announced his resignation last Thursday has been fascinating to behold. On Friday, soon to be former Deputy Leader, Gerry Brownlee tipped his intention to retain his position. A move which, on the face of it, seemed surprising to many. In fact it was a deliberate ploy to draw English out and potentially forestall him going for the top job and further widening divisions within the Caucus. It gave him a bargaining chip, or leverage, that could later be used to divert English from making a tilt for the leader's job.

Also amusing has been the way Labour has been treating the whole affair. Some times their Machiavellian approach is beyond belief. When a senior staffer says confidentially the party is more worried about English as National leader than Key you know the opposite is the case. They stuffed English so comprehensively in the 2002 election that to say they fear him is barely credible. John Key, on the other hand, is a reasonably good public speaker (better than either Brash or English), presents far better in the media, and is one of the few National MPs that can hold his own in a general debate with Deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen (aka Savage Mickey). I look forward to see how he gets on against Helen Clark when Parliament resumes next month.

Finally a few words about the departed Don. Sorry pal I don't buy the whole "I'd been planning to go for several months" schtick. Brownlee can deny it until he's blue in the face but I'm dead sure the story about him giving Brash the hard word last Wednesday is spot on. Brash's injunction on the emails was a bolt from the blue to senior MPs. My Molesworth mole says when he raised the topic in a call with a frontbencher immediately after the announcement, the MP in question was completely taken by surprise. In effect it was simply a case of one gaffe too many for Dr Brash - it proved, or at least seriously indicated, he had something to hide. And that for a Party Leader is a death knell.

Oh, and further to Brash's line on his resignation. His explanation for it being at odds with his previously stated position, that he intended to lead the party to the next election, was that to be open about it would have been destabilising for the party.

So Dr Brash, if you were prepared to deceive on that matter, what else have you not been entirely honest about?

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