It remains to be seen whether New Zealand First, currently polling well below the five-per-cent threshold, will be rescued by its leader’s recapture of Tauranga. But it is tempting to wonder whether Prime Minister Helen Clark, sensing approaching electoral oblivion, is engaging in the time-honoured political strategy of getting her retaliation in first.
Facing opinion polls that put Labour as much as 20 points behind National – which could, on the numbers, easily govern alone – Clark launched an extraordinary attack on the New Zealand Herald, accusing it of being “a Tory paper” that had “shown no charity to Labour in the party’s 91 years of existence”. She singled out for special mention the newspaper’s long-serving cartoonist Minhinnick for “flaying” Labour Governments.
The argument that Minhinnick’s political leanings were conservative is not a difficult one to sustain, but the PM deserves all the ink a cartoonist might throw at her if she seeks to blame Min for her troubles. He retired in 1976 – five years before Helen Elizabeth Clark was elected MP for Mt Albert. …
Yes blaming a cartoonist who has been dead for 16 years is never a good look.
Labour’s problems are of a very different provenance and a much more recent vintage – and the Herald’s well-reasoned opposition to the Electoral Finance Act (in which it was scarcely a lone voice) has nothing to do with it.
Labour activists who are on a jihad against the Herald should take note. The HoS (editorially independent) has labelled the Herald’s campaign against the EFA as well-reasoned.
In an online poll at nzherald.co.nz on the day of the PM’s outburst, 80 per cent of 3000 respondents believed Labour was to blame for its own polling troubles and four per cent blamed National. Unpalatable though Clark may find the fact, the “blame the media” approach is not going to cut much ice on polling day.
The plain fact is that Labour, limbering up for an election at which it seems certain to take a hammering, is looking tired. Steve Maharey has gone, Michael Cullen – who has attracted the nickname Michael Sullen in some quarters – has lost the sparkle in his eye and, apparently, the fire in his belly as well.
Actually Dr Sullen is the approved nickname
Davis’ suggestion that the Herald’s coverage of the Owen Glenn loan affair was driven by a desire to “foment happy mischief” and that the newspaper was “having great fun at [Labour’s] expense” would have seemed quaintly chivalrous if it had not been so ill-judged. It cannot but create the impression that the PM needs all the help she can get.
But hey it has given me a tagline for the blog