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The Letter: John Key behind closed doors

The Letter - 28 April 2014

John Key behind closed doors

At the Epsom fundraiser for David Seymour, John Key gave a demonstration of why he is the most popular Prime Minister in the history of polling. Key totally wowed the sold out function, which included many influential supporters The Letter has not seen at an ACT function for more than five years.

Key’s analysis

The Prime Minister gave an impressive analysis of the present political situation. He said in essence that MMP is a pig of a system. While 90 percent of voters think that National will win the election, it is statistically possible for the “coalition of the unwilling”, Labour/Greens/NZ1/Mana-Internet parties to win power. There is and always will be a group of voters who want lower taxes, less red tape and more personal freedom. Many of these voters are not happy that National has moved to the centre. If ACT did not exist these voters may stay home. John Key’s message was he needed those voters to vote ACT for him to remain Prime Minister.

Defending the Centre

The Prime Minister made a vigorous defence of his government saying that in the budget National will be forecasting a surplus whereas in the Australian budget, presented the day before, Key predicted there will be a deficit of trillions of dollars for years to come. The two budgets illustrated the cost of Labour governments’ spending. In Australia as recently as 2007 there had been no net Federal debt. National will be able to point to 70 thousand beneficiaries having gone off welfare and to Treasury predictions of strong economic growth.

National’s polling

John Key confessed one of New Zealand’s worst kept secrets that National is addicted to polling and polls every week. This is how they know voters think National is going to win. National polls show “David Cunliffe has failed to connect with voters. In Christchurch Cunliffe is polling at minus 63 percent. This unfavourable rating puts him behind Russell Norman and Winston Peters”. A 63% unfavourable rating in Labour voting Christchurch means most Labour voters do not like their leader. Cunliffe has no cross party appeal. Every time he appears on TV he loses Labour votes. In the tough minded Australian Labor Party faced with this situation with Julia Gillard the caucus held its nose and re-elected Kevin Rudd who they hated.

What Key did not say

The Letter thought it is highly significant that John Key having admitted National polls everything did not share how National’s polling was on Shane Jones. The polling in Labour’s leadership primary revealed that Shane Jones is not only Labour’s most popular MP but that he has the cross party appeal that a leader must have to grow his party’s vote. National has cynically taken out the only Labour politician who could have been a real threat.

Dance of the seven veils

Shane Jones has not retired but just announced he is retiring. He is giving weeks of retirement interviews, “a Countdown retirement party” and valedictory. Jones is sucking the oxygen out of the opposition’s airtime while making, as John Key observed, much tougher hits on Russell Norman than the PM has managed. Labour made what they thought was important policy announcements last week that the media did not cover, so neither will we.

Self- inflicted wounds

John Key’s analysis of Labour’s poor performance is their failure to be on message and self- absorption on issues of interest to Wellington. Issues like Oravida just do not bother voters. The Letter thinks David Cunliffe’s problems are deeper seated and were illustrated on TV3 news last Wednesday when the news of the Shane Jones retirement broke. David Cunliffe appeared on TV saying that Jones retirement had “absolutely” nothing to do with any concerns Jones had with Labour. Jones appeared next setting out his concerns including his unwillingness to serve in a cabinet that included Greens. Cunliffe appeared to be either a fool or a liar or both. Imagine David Cunliffe had said “Shane Jones has been unhappy for some time. He hates the fact that under MMP parties have to work with other parties. I do not like it myself but that is the system we have. Given Shane’s views he has made the right decision”.

Stay on message

John Key’s message to ACT was stay on message. He claimed that during the 2005 election he wrote while showering each morning of the campaign on the shower door S O M. Stay on Message. If ACT campaigns on message of lower taxes, less red tape and more personal responsibility John Key predicts that ACT will do well. It was a message that the Letter could not have put better.

Helen Clark’s legacy

Clark was addicted to polling. Labour had weekly polls and in election year daily tracking polls. It gave Labour a huge advantage. An advantage John Key resolved National must have. We have no doubt legal highs appeared as an issue in National’s polling and National has decided to take it off the agenda. Our drug laws are a mess but we must S O M.

ACT’s Alternative Budget

Jamie Whyte has almost finished work on an alternative budget. While Jamie agrees bringing the budget back into surplus is an achievement, government spending is still higher than any Cullen budget. Taxes are too high. There is too much red tape. Government is doing things that are best left to citizens to do for themselves. Government debt is too high. Despite record milk prices the nation is still running a trade deficit. Dr Whyte has set out a budget showing how New Zealand can close the gap with Australia which was National’s election promise. John, be careful what you wish for.

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