Audrey Young writes:
There were good reasons for Key to downplay the byelection.
First is the historic improbability that National can win it.
Not only has it never held the seat since the electorate was formed in 1946, but in the 40 byelections in New Zealand since then, the party of Government has never taken a seat from an opposition party.
Indeed. And it is Labour’s safest seat. Yes the Clark factor may be gone, but nevertheless it is far from marginal.
In the aftermath of the English speech, we saw a hint of the debate Goff will mount through May and into the byelection: National’s reneging on the centrepiece of its election campaign, tax cuts.
Goff’s problem is that Labour campaigned so hard against National’s tax cuts that opposing their cancellation looks confusing.
Very confusing. And I look forward to hearing how high Goff would increases taxes in his alternative budget.
If finding the right issues weren’t enough, Goff has caused some internal disquiet as well by forcing Mt Albert favourite Phil Twyford out of contention for the candidacy.
And who wins the nomination will be interesting. Meg Bates has been endorsed by Dame Cath Tizard, Brian Edwards and Judy Callaghan – all people very close to Clark. And Bates worked for Clark. Then you have David Shearer who was hand picked by Goff and went to school with him. So the selection could be a clash between the Clark machine and the Goff machine!
He also faces internal disquiet over a possible shift to the right in policy _ fuelled by Clayton Cosgrove’s condemnation of a Maori rehabilitation prison on separatist grounds.
Labour’s own Pauline Hanson.