Nudge Nudge in Northland
Written By: – Date published: 11:07 am, March 7th, 2015 – 97 comments
Categories: accountability, Andrew Little, by-election, campaigning, john key, Politics, winston peters – Tags: andrew little, by-election, john key, northland, winston peters
Two interesting changes in the Northland by-election overnight.
Firstly, John Key has realised that National are in trouble. He has now scheduled three visits to the electorate in the next two weeks, which strongly suggests their own polling has confirmed the TV3/Reid Research result that put Winston Peters in the lead. Bear in mind that only a few days ago Key was confidant that the NZ First leader had “zero chance” and he hadn’t intended being personally involved in the campaign at all.
Their candidate, Mark Osborne, has been given emergency media training. Presumably before he admitted on Radio Live (hat tip Skinny) that he knew about the Sabin rumours before endorsing him to be their MP in 2014. Weirdly, Osborne’s only apparent concern at the time was how Sabin felt. He doesn’t say whether he gave Mike a man hug, but we shouldn’t rule it out.
Secondly, Labour Leader Andrew Little has dropped a couple of hints that he is OK with Labour voters endorsing Winston. In an interview reported on Stuff (ht Pigman) he notes that Labour and NZ First have economic policies in common and he goes on to say:
“It is most likely that when we next lead government we will have a relationship with the Green Party, and I expect New Zealand First – let’s see how Winston does in Northland over the next few weeks.”
In the NZ Herald Little goes further, saying that Labour is reviewing it’s Northland strategy and pointing out the risk to the Government if they lose the seat:
“That poll result last night would have been a massive wake-up call for National. If a candidate other than National wins then the Government is down a vote and can’t ram through things like the Resource Management Act reforms.”
However the Labour leader notes that Labour entered the race in good faith and that Willow-Jean Prime will continue to campaign. He also notes that “Voters tend to be pretty cynical about electorate deals so that’s clearly a factor.”
Little’s mention of the Resource Management Act is telling. National do not have parliamentary support for their radical plan to gut the RMA beyond the one vote their sponsored charity, the ACT Party, provide. If they lose Northland, they will not be able to simply rubber stamp the changes. The same applies to any divisive legislation that the Maori Party and Peter Dunne don’t like. According to one high placed source, that includes funding for the defence forces foray into Iraq, which is supposedly not covered in the current defence budget.
Losing Northland is not merely an embarrassment for National, it potentially leaves them as a lame duck government, unable to progress their legislative agenda. Ok, that relies on the Maori Party and Peter Dunne growing a spine, but these are nervous days for National.
Just as an aside, did you know the motto for the region is Putting Northland First? I bet Winston does!
UPDATE: TVNZ poll out. Peters and Osborne tied on 36%, Prime 20%. A second question was asked about what would happen if Prime withdraws: 51% would vote for Peters.