Fran(k) assessment of the damage to Nats

Amazingly, a fairly balanced assessment of the fallout from National’s week from hell from Fran O’Salivatin’ in this morning’s Granny: “Loose words sparking talk of hidden agenda.”

National’s been stung, but not by Bill “Loose Lips” English, writes Fran. Nonetheless:

“There will be more chatter during the election campaign as National’s opponents try to draw a link between him and the publication of emails that ended Don Brash’s reign.

“But the vexed relationship on show is between Key and English.”

And that’s the fascinating part. Fran then retails the “story that emerged after two journalistic confidantes, who went with Key on a social spree in the Capital earlier this year, let loose that Key expected English to attempt a coup some day, perhaps to wrestle the prime ministership away (assuming he gets there).”

This was first reported on The Standard in June. (In respect of the previous post here but one, that the blog “reported” the story, now the journos are picking it up.)

Fran also opines that the affair has given:

“Labour an opening to spin into proof positive that National has a hidden agenda which will result in cutbacks to the tax credits programme and the sale of Kiwibank if it takes office.”

But she goes on to note that “Key and English had already helped create perceptions of a hidden agenda.” Too true. Good one Fran.

She’s certainly right about National’s opponents using this opportunity to shed light on National’s internal fracturing. They are already on the case… see the video below (hat-tip: The Standard.) Just imagine what would happen if National lose the election. Pure Tarantino.


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9 Responses to “Fran(k) assessment of the damage to Nats”

  1. ak Says:

    Amazing’s right, Pete: quite staggering in fact, given the tone and direction of all her previous columns. I hereby withdraw all pins from my metaphorical Fran voodoo doll (and would luurve to be a fly on the wall at Granny’s editorial meetings this week – let’s see if Fran’s column next week is as balanced….)

    Mind you, what else could she say? As she intimates, this is without a doubt the biggest political story of the last three years: borrowing to pay for tax cuts was dicey enough, but to follow that up with leaked confirmation of the secret agenda that had been becoming more and more obvious with every massive flip-flop inoculation, is absolutely huge. And the icing on the cake for Labour is confirmation of deep division – not only within the lower ranks, but right at the very top. That forced apology under the Golden Jandal’s baleful glare and the subsequent pushing of cameras will resonate deeply with voters from now till November.

    Now more than ever, Key is isolated as the sole trump for the Big Money team: as “Money” Bill Williams showed us, the chances of one marquee player carrying a divided and careworn team to the premiership are slim indeed.

  2. Anita Says:

    Just imagine what would happen if National lose the election.

    I was impressed by how gracefully they handled losing in 2005, although perhaps that was because everyone was kinda aware that Brash looked like a bit of a dick slightly too often.

    If they were to lose this time, without some kind of Key meltdown, they’d wonder if they’d ever have a chance of winning.

  3. truthseekernz Says:

    O’Sullivan is capable of writing more balanced pieces. It’s a shame she doesn’t do it more often.

  4. ak Says:

    Anita: I was impressed by how gracefully they handled losing in 2005

    Funny, Anita, I have a different recollection (but not necessarily more accurate!) – a close finish and the result was up in the air for a while – most resonating image was the sight of Boag and Hooten’s craven crawling to the Maori Party on TV1, promising a repeal of F&S if they could somehow form a govt……utterly disgusting after the blatant racism of Orewa One and subsequent dogwhistles, and a chilling reminder that the tories will stoop to any depths in the pursuit of power….
    I don’t think it was so much “graceful” as stunned disbelief and catatonic stupor in the face of the failure of the biggest and most blatant vote-bribe ever offered (“tax cuts”) coupled with the aforementioned race card. It should”ve been a “can’t miss” home run for the born-to-rule: instead, a narrow Labour win.

    Hence the relentless anti-Clark hate-campaign ever since: thwarted at the post, the toxic kiwibileblog underbelly has vented incessantly – and gained a freakishly inordinate amount of “mud sticks” traction, thanks to the privately-owned and ad-driven, sensation-seeking media. Simultaneously, however, the expensive factory-built “Johnny Nice” campaign has been poll-forced to embrace the very same policies that their own base abhors: and thus we witness last week’s meltdown as base emotion and venal manipulation coalesce into the inevitable, values-free conflagration of lies, confusion, and desperate attempts at diversion.

    Labour must now avoid the temptation to gloat or descend, and continue to act in the interests of our most vulnerable. The Maori Party may well still hold the key – and Key will be learning te reo, drawing tats on his spindly biceps and growing dreads as we speak if “that’s what it takes”.
    The gaps have been closed significantly under your stewardship Helen – why not celebrate the fact and take us even further? Dare them to follow the path of truth.

  5. toms Says:

    Anita said: “…they’d wonder if they’d ever have a chance of winning…”

    I have been thinking about the MMP referendum promise and the violence of the National party’s reaction to the taping fiasco at their conference, marked by its immediate recourse to attempts at bullying and legal threats, and what that says about the wider culture of the right. The huge advantage Labour has over National is that before the 1999 election Helen Clark drew a line under the era of Rogernomics, created a perception that Labour was sorry for the way things happened, and vowed to enact in government only the modest changes they campaigned on. Helen Clark grasped MMP as an opportunity and made it her own and restored the credibility of her party’s promises.

    On the other hand, National have an excellent chance of losing this election, and every election after it, because fundamentally they suffer from a mono-cultural arrogance that perceives their time on the opposition benches as merely an aberration until normal viewing is restored, water starts flowing downhill, MMP can be killed off so those pesky minorities are silenced and the values of big business can again assume its rightful place at the head of NZ Inc. Because they cannot say sorry, cannot recognise that New Zealand has pesky minorities and uppity women, cannot ditch the McCullys, the Williamsons, the Smiths (x2), etc, etc, and cannot therefore adjust to the realities of MMP, the charge of being resentful Bourbons with a hidden agenda just waiting for the Empress to fall so they enact their revenge on the people still sticks after nine years in opposition.

    What I hope for is for another National loss, not just because I am a tribal Labour supporter but because my hope is after that loss National will finally find the courage to clean out the Bourbons and utter the hardest word of all — sorry.

    Sorry, the hardest word in National’s dictionary.

  6. jafapete Says:

    What an incredible thread. This is why we blog, but at the same time I wish it wasn’t so ephemeral. I think we are all in agreement here. Toms’s summary of what’s wrong with the Nats is just classic. Would you like to expand on it a little, and we’ll run it as a guest post?

    “Just imagine what would happen if National lose the election.” The point I was making here is that the National Caucus is clearly not one big happy family. Loose Lips confirmed that, despite the attempts of our “balanced” media to ignore it.

    It’s only the thought of sharing out the spoils after the election that keeps them together. Should they lose there would be an almighty bloody struggle. Would the Bourbons get cleared out in the process? Probably.

  7. Anita Says:


    I didn’t mean to say that I thought National behaved perfectly after losing. But they didn’t run around chanting “we was robbed!!” or pushing electoral petitions, or taking legal action over any of the campaign practices of their opponents. I was surprised by the extent they simply accepted the election outcome, then accepted the coalition negotiation outcome.

    A strange fatalism or deeply ingrained belief in the fairness of the legislated structures perhaps?

  8. Anita Says:


    I reckon one of the challenges the two big parties have is their utter incomprehension about why they’re not the natural party of government. I think both Labour and National struggle to understand why more than a fringe don’t support them.

    But yes, it would be wonderful to get clear apologies for the neoliberal madness. That said, I’d prefer a roll back to an apology and the status quo.

  9. ak Says:

    The Nats I know weren’t too happy about the “fairness” of the system Anita! It was all “we wuz robbed” around here, and they had a genuine belief that Helen wouldn’t last the three years (a belief that is about to yield rich wager payments to yours truly in a couple of months time!)

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