I’m amazed by how utterly lacking in strategy the Government appears to be at the moment. I really shouldn’t give them free advice but I feel sorry for them. You are doomed if you fight all the battles on the terms set by the Opposition, but that is what has been happening.
Example No 1 is the Helen no show on media debates with Don. Rather than try to lay the issue to rest and get their own messages out, they make the issue even more high profile by lamely suggesting that Don Brash in fact is refusing debates because he wasn’t in Parliament for some boring debate in the late afternoon. The fact that most of NZ knew that was because he was in Auckland for the Holmes debate the PM welched on, plus the fact that 1% of NZers watch Parliament and around 30% watch Holmes made it an incredibly stupid thing to do, because it means people will just keep talking about Don Brash.
Another sign is the $1.3 million costs of Iwi consultation for a new prison. After having ignored near identical stories for years, suddenly the Government is giving life to the issue by saying oh yes, that is too much money and we will hold an inquiry into it, guaranteeing it stays in the headlines for many more weeks. And of course most NZers know that if Don Brash had not made his Orewa speech the Government’s interest is the issue would be, to be frank, fuck all.
So you have a Government fighting with no strategy, and on issues all defined by the Opposition. They think fear mongering over what Brash may do in future (and hence keeping Don Brash as the topic everyone is talking about) is going to work, rather than actually produce anything resembling a sense of direction and vision for New Zealand.
Will they wise up in time? I am starting to doubt it.