Espiner predicts National victory

Colin Espiner blogs his final thoughts:

It’s all over bar the shouting. As the parties wind up campaigning with a final flurry of handshakes and campaign rallies in Auckland tomorrow, the final polls have come in and the verdict is unanimous: National should win on Saturday.

I say “should” because National has the polling in its favour, it has the momentum, and it is riding the “time for a change” mood that still exists, despite Labour leader Helen Clark’s claims that it has evaporated in the wake of the financial crisis.

Even TV3’s usually Left-leaning TNS poll puts National in the box seat, and actually has Labour’s support down rather than up. It appears as if Mike Williams’s trip to Australia last week to dig dirt on John Key might end up being more costly than Labour had budgeted for.

You know how damaging it is when Helen is on TV saying people should realise they are voting for her, not Mike Williams. Wow that is crapping on him from a big height. They should also realise that Williams is one of her closest friends, her personal choice for party president, the Labour Campaign Manager, in touch with Helen several times a day and she knew all about his attempted smear tactics.

But in Key she met her match on the campaign trail. He was relaxed, friendly, polished, and did not make the sort of blunders Labour was counting on. He surprised Clark by bettering her in the first television leaders’ debate and confidently held his own in the next two as well, blunting Labour’s major advantage in the campaign – Clark’s debating skills.

That first TV debate was a defining moment. It made a huge difference.

In the last few days we’ve had another secret tape, but I have to say that the outing of the taper’s identity as Kees Keizer, a Left-leaning man with links to the Green Party, has done Labour more harm than good. Even though the party was not directly involved, it looks a little desperate. I understand there was another tape – of John Key himself – but either TV3 has chosen not to air it, or Mr Keizer is concerned about a potential backlash from handing it over.

There is immense anger about the vile little tactics of Keizer. Not just from the political right, but those who are not political. And I think Colin is right – this little campaign has backfired on the left.

To give credit to the Greens co-leaders, they did do a press release yesterday explicitly stating they do not condone the use of secret tapings such as Keizer did. Labour has refused to condemn the tactis, and indeed they seem to have set their campaign strategy on the knowledge of what was on some of the tapes.

The balance of probabilities suggests that Key will be our next prime minister, and that we will know this on Saturday evening, without having to wait for the Maori Party to decide for us.

It would be good to have a clean result, so at this time of financial crisis, a Government can be formed quickly. I actually think National will have a better relationship with the Maori Party if they do not have to rely on their abstentions – because then any policy agreements will be based on genuine agreement that they are good policies to pursue.

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