HoS says it is the beginning of the end

The HoS says that if National wins the election next year, the last two months will be seen as the beginning of the end.  They note:

The political management of the Electoral Finance Bill has been a public-relations disaster.

And then on Erin Leigh:

It remains to be seen whether Leigh will have any legal recourse, but Mallard’s refusal to apologise is a serious misjudgement. He may not hide behind the technical excuse that he was relying on advice. New Zealanders’ belief in a fair go – not to mention the “buck stops here” principle – demands more.

The events of the last month have made the Government look increasingly aloof and arrogant. This fiasco has simply etched that impression deeper.

John Armstrong also writes about Mallard’s  behaviour:

All the public sees is an increasingly unpopular Cabinet minister who seems to have learned nothing from his scrap with Henare and who picks on a citizen who thought she was doing the right thing by raising her concerns about what was happening in her former workplace.

There can only be one loser from this. Mallard should have cut his losses. He should have acknowledged the error. He could have blamed the ministry. He did not even have to utter the word “apology”, although it would have looked better if he had.

Perhaps most astonishing of all, Mallard has followed National’s preferred script almost to the word.

The Opposition can hardly believe its good fortune. It has been trying to paint the Government as arrogant, bullying and out of touch. Along comes Mallard who obligingly displays those very characteristics.

… The plain fact is that Mallard used the cover of parliamentary privilege to discredit Leigh and punish her for having the temerity to speak out.

This is what is so surprising – that the Government keeps punishing itself.  There is a very easy way out – called doing the right thing.  Once upon a time Clark was very astute at knowing when to cut the losses.  The longer Mallard holds out regarding Erin Leigh, the longer it stays a new story.

It’s this sort of stubbornness which journalists call classic third termitis.  An obsession with proving oneself right and refusing to concede, which overrides any more strategic considerations.

Matt McCarten also senses it is bad for the Government:

The impression now cemented in most people’s mind is that Labour – supported by the Greens, New Zealand First and United Future – has forced through a partisan law for next year’s election to give them electoral advantage over National.

… Mallard’s instincts are to attack anyone who upsets him when he is under stress. Even after Hugh Logan, the ministry’s boss, said Leigh’s work was of a high standard, Mallard refused to apologise for his behaviour. This must call into question his capacity to be a leading minister.

And Kerre Woodham has a similiar theme:

Why on Earth is Labour making it so difficult for even their most ardent supporters to love them right now? Is this some sort of test of fealty? You have to stick with us even though we’re behaving appallingly?

Helen Clark is big on loyalty – which is vital if one is to have longevity in the political world – but some senior Government members are acting up so badly, they’ve descended from puerile to infantile.

… And every time John Boscowan’s name is mentioned, the Prime Minister and her number two start frothing at the mouth and inferring everyone who marched against the Electoral Finance Bill is a mindless Act supporter being manipulated by a rich puppeteer.

Personally, if I had truckloads of money, I could think of better things to spend it on than half-page ads in daily newspapers exhorting New Zealanders to rise up against the Bill, but it’s not my money and Boscowan can spend it how he will.

And while some of the marchers were undoubtedly rabid Labour loathers, not all of them were, and it diminishes the Prime Minister to imply that’s the case. Labour’s in grave danger of imploding and depriving all the political junkies the sport of a close election next year.

Kerre describes herself as left-leaning, but like Jaz Morris, is turning away from the Government.

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