Armstrong on Key

John Armstrong comes out discussing the?fact that John Key’s invincibility is now dented after Northland.

Like all persuasive political spin, National’s attempt to put the blame for its thrashing in the Northland byelection down to “a unique set of circumstances” will get some traction because that rationale contains a strong element of the truth.

The governing party would be deluding itself, however, if it thinks there are no major ramifications for National beyond that electorate’s boundaries.

Sure, the circumstances triggering the byelection were unique in making voters angry about being kept in the dark as to why previous MP Mike Sabin was obliged to resign from Parliament.

[…] ??

It is too early to talk of seismic shifts in the political landscape. The polls show support for National nationwide is still running at levels which could see the party winning a fourth term.

The Northland result, however, leaves National with plenty to ponder.

First, Peters has punctured John Key’s aura of invincibility. That is likely to have a major impact on party morale, particularly the Opposition. The daily political battles will be fought on a more equal footing.

Second, Peters’ large majority was partly the result of voters defecting from National. They may have defected only with their constituency vote and may well still cast their party vote for National. But there is less certainty that will happen.

Worryingly for Key, The Force of the North sucked up a large number of votes in normally solid National territory, like Kerikeri.

Third, Peters’ message of regional neglect will have pushed buttons in other parts of the country, such as Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, East Cape and the West Coast.

He could well use his victory in Northland as the launching pad for a wider offensive by pitching himself as the Voice of the Provinces.

It is an old adage that to win elections, you have to capture the hearts and minds of provincial New Zealand. Peters’ spectacular triumph in Northland plus a resurgent Labour Party might well put the squeeze on National’s party vote in the provinces in 2017, to National’s ultimate cost.

National needs to be very careful and at the moment they look like the punch drunk old boxer answering the door bell by coming out swinging.

The teflon has worn off the Key frying pan and now stuff is starting to stick…it might have taken 8 years or so, but it is happening. To deny it is foolhardy.


– NZ Herald