Cracker by Damian Christie

Like a Myna from the Ashes

Despite recent swipes from the gnome-like patriarch of New Zealand broadcasting, there are some phenomenally good female journalists around. In some cases it’s as though the sixth sense often attributed to the fairer sex is further honed with journalistic skills to a level that is quite frankly frightening with its psychic-like nature.

So I had to laugh when I read Jane Clifton’s Listener column last week:

“National still has no viable successor to English, so the gaffes are likely to continue. Don Brash, who began the year as a tenuous potential replacement, has lost ground by developing no discernable political talent.”

Still, who was to know? Ms Clifton and I talk at the end of each month, summarising the past few weeks of political goings-on, and for as many months as I can remember, the state of the National leadership has been somewhere on the agenda. There have been so many false starts, red herrings, ‘imminent announcements’, it would have taken a very brave commentator to pick the week’s events and risk crying wolf yet again.

Despite appalling planning (Jane referred to it as “the worst coup I’ve ever seen”), even worse timing (GE moratorium anyone? Anyone?) and the slimmest of majorities (only two votes), early polling rather curiously shows it as being a good move. Around half the people in a Colmar Brunton poll saw it as a good move for National, and increasing the threat to Labour at the next election. Such polls are typically one dimensional, and it’s anyone’s guess to what extent respondents saw threat to Labour as increasing. I guess at this stage National are happy with any upward movement.

I spoke to Brash, albeit briefly, on Thursday. How did he respond to Winston Peters’ claims that under him National was little more than “Act in drag”? At a time when National needs more than ever to reclaim the middle ground and those floating voters, does he not instead represent a shift to the right?

“I don’t believe in policies being left or right” he replied. “I believe that policies are either right or wrong.” Ironically, it’s exactly the kind of aphorism that you’d expect to hear from someone like Ken Shirley or Muriel Newman. “A hand-up, not a hand-out" anyone?

At least it’s a change from a phrase now so entrenched in the Opposition’s lexicon that I wouldn’t be surprised if they started printing bumper stickers – “It’s political correctness… gone maaaaaaad

Tired old cliché, anyone? Anyone?