Clark under pressure

In a somewhat sycophantic interview with the PM by the HoS, Clark declares she always keeps a sense of humour.

How-ever the NZ Herald editorial the day before poses the question “What is eating Helen Clark?”. Indeed the constant topic around the chattering classes, and including senior Party figures, is how Clark’s normally excellent instincts could fail her so badly that she did not see the idiocy of labelling Brash cancerous in the same breath as deploring personal attacks. It was a error in judgement you might expect from a first time candidate, not someone who has been an MP for 25 years.

Incidentially I hear froma reliable source that the phone lines at the Cancer Society have been running hot with people complaining about her use of “cancerous” especially.

Anyway onto the editorial:

What is eating Helen Clark? What can have possessed her to term National leader Don Brash “corrosive and cancerous”? By any yardstick, there was little to gain, and much to lose. Could it be, then, that the weight of criticism levelled at Labour over the use of public funds to produce its election pledge card, allied to the smear campaign against her husband, has caused her to lose her bearings? Has a usually calm and astute figure fallen victim to the perils of personal politics?

There is one logical solution for Labour’s difficulties. It must pay back any taxpayer money found to have been unlawfully spent on electioneering. The Greens this week joined several other parties in opting for this. Labour should follow suit, abandoning its deeply unpopular proposal to introduce legislation to validate spending identified as unlawful in the Auditor-General’s final report.

The Greens’ move, decided even though they are puzzled by the Auditor-General’s interpretation of the rules, has been widely applauded. This, to some degree, would also happen if Labour took the same action. More importantly, it would, in one step, take the party to the political equivalent of clean air.

National, for its part, must rid itself of the hindrance that hovers, sword of Damocles-like, over it. Its links to the Exclusive Brethren, and the $1.2 million campaign orchestrated by the sect, may well have cost the party the last election. Now, National is caught in the wash whenever Helen Clark accuses the Exclusive Brethren of smear campaigns. Again, the solution is simple. Victoria’s National Party leader, Peter Ryan, who is contesting a state election in November, has said he will not accept donations from the sect. Don Brash should dissociate his party in the same way.

Will all this happen? The omens are not propitious. Even United Future leader Peter Dunne, Parliament’s self-proclaimed voice of reason, is becoming more irrational by the day.

Not content with breaching protocol in a particularly jarring way by claiming the former Solicitor-General had besmirched the reputation of MPs, he now claims the Auditor-General’s investigation into election spending is “a mess”. The intimidatory intent and luridness of his tone are as disgraceful as the extent of his disconnection from reality.

I think the Leaders of Labour, United Future and National would all do well to take the advice on the editorial.

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