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National caucus in disarray with Key’s comments

22 September 2006

National caucus in disarray with Key’s comments

Attempts to quieten public division within the National Party caucus have been dealt a serious blow with comments from John Key and 32 other National MPs that they have lost confidence in Don Brash, Labour Strategist Pete Hodgson said today.

National leadership hopeful John Key is quoted in today's Press as saying he had lost confidence in Dr Brash's leadership and hesitated when asked if he would like to see another person leading the Party.

Pete Hodgson said the only reason for any delay in rolling Brash was that National is facing a three-way leadership battle for the first time in living memory.

"John Key has been campaigning for the National Party leadership for most of this year, but has until now refused to publicly criticise Don Brash," Pete Hodgson said. "His comments in today’s Press represent a significant escalation in National’s leadership crisis – whether Key intended to make them public or not.

“We’ll probably be subjected to a Brash/Key handholding photo opp in the next few days, but the fact remains that the cat is now well and truly out of the bag. Even if Brash still holds a sad hope that he will be the National leader at the next election, there can be no repeat of the “Right Stuff” political partnership we saw between the two men last year.

“With over half the National caucus now openly supporting a new leader, the only reason for any delay in rolling Brash is that the Party is facing a three-way race for the leadership for the first time in decades. From Brash-English through to English-Shipley, Shipley-Bolger, Bolger-McLay, McLay-Muldoon, the current crop of National MPs has never witnessed a three-way race for the leadership.

“The fact that Don Brash, Bill English and John Key all have hopes of leading
National at the next election tells us two things. One, Don Brash has inspired little loyalty amongst the MPs brought in the 2005 intake. Second, the leadership contest will be bitter and divisive with inevitable destabilising after-effects felt for years to come. The front-bench reshuffle the coup will require should be enough to cause serious concerns about the long term stability of the caucus.”

Pete Hodgson also said that Don Brash’s latest spin on his corruption line – quoting the Electoral Act – is laughable as his interpretation would have National the only Party to have been proven to be corrupt under the law.

“National is the only Party who has been proven to have breached the spending cap in the 2005 election. Brash’s interpretation of the law would have his own Party labled corrupt as a result of their GST 'confusion'."

ENDS

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