McCarten’s winners and losers

Matt McCarten in the HoS:

Helen Clark – It would have been a miracle if she had won a fourth term and she was always going to have to carry the can if Labour lost. To her credit, she managed a clean transition to her rival, Phil Goff. Not many political leaders exit with such class.

Michael Cullen – He and Clark were a dream team and had a dream run. But all political careers ultimately end in defeat and when she went he also rolled himself. Bill English has big shoes to fill.

Winston Peters – If he had made the 5 per cent threshold, Clark would still be prime minister. But he has had a great run and survived the past two elections by a whisker. New Zealand First, of course, dies with him.

– He’s like some old war veteran who won’t fade away. It’s clear he’s spent the past decade of his forced retirement wondering where he went wrong. Then, like any old ideologue, he realised he just didn’t go far enough.

Rodney Hide – I’m not so sure Hide is as right wing as he was. At least I hope he’s not.

Jeanette Fitzsimons – The Greens have been lucky to have her. Rod Donald’s left a huge hole. Her plans to step down this election were put on hold for obvious reasons but she will go next time. Her party, however, is spending yet another term on the opposition backbenches. It is starting to look like the Greens will always be bridesmaid. Their brand was new and sexy but they are starting to look old and tired.

– Supporting a National without too much or responsibility may prove to be a boon. Everyone knows they had to do what they did.

Phil Goff – If anyone can pull off a victory for Labour next time, Goff can. Excluding the Maori Party, he has to regain four seats to get the top job. He’s waited a decade for the chance.

John Key – National’s win has more to do with him than anything else. Clark wasn’t as widely opposed as other defeated prime ministers. And the election wasn’t decided on policy, as voters could count the major differences on one hand. Unless Key has a secret agenda, it’s starting to appear that this National could be the most moderate administration since Keith Holyoake. Assuming he can control the Act caucus and not do anything to alienate the Maori Party, he should sneak through the next election. Clearly he’s the political winner of the year.

A fair bit there I don’t agree with, but I do think he has it right with the and the Greens.

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