It must be frustrating for John Key and his senior strategists. Here they are, the most popular government in modern New Zealand history successfully implementing a strong right-wing agenda: sacking thousands of public servants, selling off assets, lowering tax for the rich, trusts and corporations, introducing charter schools, gutting environmental protections . . . the list goes on. And how does his party repay him? Well, according to the leaked strategy papers written by National activist – and alleged WhaleOil co-blogger – Simon Lusk they form a faction inside National, complain about how bitterly disappointed they are in his government, call him a ‘wet’ and plot a post-election coup to depose all of Key’s political allies.
MPs and senior-staffers get sent this sort of stuff all the time. Evn so, Lusk’s advice is unusually terrible: during a period in which Labour and the Greens are pulling National back towards the centre, Lusk feels the party should tack to the extreme far-right, an area currently occupied by ACT, who fluctuate between 0.0 and 0.2% in the polls.
National’s leadership seems to have grown tired of this back-seat strategising: prompted, presumably, by Andrea Vance’s interview with Lusk last weekend they’ve leaked these documents to the media, and an extremely well-prepared John Key spoke on Lusk and his role in the party to Richard Harman on The Nation this morning. This’ll make life a bit trickier for Judith Collins who is perceived to be Lusk’s patron within the party and who can now be accused of being a ‘tea-party’ candidate, and so that’s a win for Steven Joyce, and something of a declaration of Key’s post-leadership vision of the National Party when he steps down.