The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is Brash out on his own?

I'm starting to wonder if Don Brash is operating without safety nets at the moment - according to Matthew Hooton on Nat Rad (and I saw him make similar comments on Breakfast last week) Brash has isolated himself from traditional advisors, including other National MPs. The Herald's business gossip column on Monday this week indicated that Bryan Sinclair was no longer giving Brash the benefit of his wisdom either.

Brash has had his several of his own senior MPs publicly exhibit the miles between him and them over the Exclusive Brethren issue (before Brash took the rather belated step of announcing actually he didn't want anything more to do with them). He also doesn't seem to have had a lot of backing over blood quantum argument (and there's a good opinion piece in the Herald this morning refuting Don's point about Maori health outcomes and choice*). Now he's launched into the police in a way that has many squirming at the thought that Brash is putting political pressure on the operational decisions of the police, which is generally considered rather unwise. And he refuses to retire that inaccurate line that Labour "stole the election".

I'm starting to think that there are some within National who don't particularly want Don to step back from the brink, to start talking policy (what happened to Brash's plan to do this?) and start looking like a possible Prime Minister rather than a grumpy old man.**

How long until Key (or English, or even Brownlee who has actually been looking remarkably statesman-like lately) makes a move?

* Unfortunately behind the Premium Content wall, or there would be a link here.
** Perhaps Brash should have put his recent polemic about Maori into Gizgoole as Russell Brown suggests? Nah, even that wouldn't have made it ok.


mike sweetman said...

They can't afford to change leader. They can't afford not to.

Dr Brash is either eschewing the advice of others because he's his own man, or he doesn't trust anyone else. If it's the former, then it might turn out okay, except that he's shown himself to be a bit injudicious at times. If it's the latter, then the honeymoon is over. A new leader, cementing the trend of a leadership change after every election, and with it goes the honeymoon.

Two key points to remember
01. The Prime Minister is so incredibly not an idiot, and she can and will find a way to recover lost support. No doubt through a piece of policy as clever as the interest free student loans and a quick purge of problem MPs.

02. Talk of a Key/English/Brownlee challenge points to the fact that there is no obvious successor to Brash. Either this means that the new leader won't have the full support of caucus, or we could be looking at a compromise candidate.

Remember how pre-election speculators called this National's last roll of the dice? In the next few months, we'll get to see if that was right.

Span said...

Good points Mike, thanks for commenting.

I think that you are right about the clear lack of a succesor, however this seems to be mainly because people are concerned that Key isn't fully baked yet. Which is interesting given that Brash was installed with less experience, perhaps National activists are a bit wary after the bungles Brash has made?

I reckon if Brash hadn't distanced himself from the Brethren recently (better late than never) he would have been toast by now, but as he did this he's given his opponents more time to plot (and himself more time to redeem his leadership).

Anonymous said...

A leadership fight is going to be hell divisive. It's hard to come out of those looking good.

So, if you were John Key, with your four years parliamentary experience and zero seconds in cabinet and you were asking your party to trust to you the task of rolling the smartest political mind in a generation, what would you do? The smart thing would be in close talks with the English faction and the Brownlee faction (I don't imagine there is much of a Brownlee faction, though), so as not to have it turn into a nasty fight. Just you know, divvy up the folios and talk about the deputy leadership and then when the time is right, work out the numbers and then invite Dr Brash to just step down, rather than start bloodletting for no good reason.

People are tired of politics right now. It's squalid, petulant and mean; It's a real turn off, and the next election isn't due for two years. The slowness of third parties to make hay in this sunshine means they aren't going to lose support of to the side in the current climate. So, they can pace themselves. Timing is everything.

Span said...

I see Brownlee as more of a compromise/stalemate candidate - if there are too many who see Key as under-baked, or are thinking about English instead, then Brownlee may end up thrust forward as someone both English and Key think they could easily nobble when they are ready.

Especially if they think they are going to lose the next election (although I don't think many Nats do think that at the moment) - why fight over the leadership of a party that you aren't reasonably sure you can lead to victory? Better to let someone else take the fall.