John Key is right when he says that Labour luminaries shouldn't be spending all their time attacking him, and Michael Cullen is wrong to mock him for crying Uncle. I agree with John Boy. Labour should be spending at least some of their time this year attacking Key's invertebrate front bench colleagues as well.
Those of us who can remember the Nats when they were in power might testify they came up three feet short of a yard then, and the talent pool has expanded little since.
This, it must be remembered, is a caucus in which Murray McCully is still revered as a strategist (despite his strategies having now lost them three elections in a row) -- a caucus which continues to attack the Government over the NCEA and RMA, blithely unaware it would seem that it was they themselves who introduced these malodorous pieces of law, and they have no plans at all to remove them.
A caucus in which Simon Power (a man presently obsessed with prisoners hitting small balls into tin cans) is considered promising; in which Jackie Dean (the woman who expressed an interest in banning water) is rated as a high flyer; and in which Paul Hutchison (known for little outside his apparent interest in banning absinthe) is considered good ministerial material. As I say, the talent was always thin on the ground, and has expanded little since. For lack of any decent challengers, most of the old guard still retain their spots.
One of the old guard has done his own small bit for expansion. Gerry Brownlee is a lightweight in every respect but the obvious. Only in a caucus with the paucity of talent of this one would such a buffoon have attained the position of deputy, only to lose it in the last coup to an even bigger waste of space, Bill English -- who will forever be remembered as Mr Twenty-One Percent.
English was a dithering boob as party leader (who could forget his ill-fated 'live-on-TV' boxing debut, or that regrettable televised 'haka' down at the Viaduct), a non-entity in search of a conviction who richly deserved to lead his party to their worst ever electoral defeat. No National Party leader before or since has deserved to be so soundly defeated. His recent performances, which includes going to court to clarify MP's exemptions under the Electoral Finance Act, suggest that Michael Cullen still knows how to work him by remote control.
Just as three-time loser Murray McCully is regarded as a strategist by this caucus, so too is Nick Smith regarded as a visionary. It would be a joke if it weren't more serious. The man is a simpering idiot in search of a dripping wet village -- yet if National get over the line this year it will be this red-faced spineless creep, as Environment Minister, who would have the crucial task of rewriting the iniquitous Resource Management Act he once happily administered as minister in the Shipley Cabinet. (Remember Shipley! Uuugh!)
It is enough to remember that when Nick was previously minister for the environment he could be heard describing the Resource Management Act as "far-sighted environmental legislation" -- that he was happy and "very proud" to introduce the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act (somewhat like the RMA on acid) which went on to achieve fame by all but scuppered development in Whitianga and Whangamata and surrounding towns. That it was he who first introduced forced retraining for early childhood professionals. As Lindsay Perigo describes him he is "a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with." Expect to see no change however "substantive" to the RMA from Nick the Dick, and his spot in the rankings retained.
And then there's that other brat, Tony Ryall. Remember Ryall promising to end the presumption of innocence for crimes of his choice when he was Justice Minister back in 1998? Remember Vile Ryall defending the revenue-collecting of his speed-camera wielding police officers, and instructing them to continue the collections while burglars and muggers got away scot free. Some of us still retain our memories of past events, even if as health spokesman Ryall himself can't remember who it was who introduced the health reforms that he keeps criticising for expanding the health bureaucracy. (Hint, Tony, it was your team.)
Then we have their housing spokesman (Phil Heatley)who apparently has no idea what his opposite number is up to; the former education minister who has still forgotten that it was he who set up the bloated bovine bureaucracies that are the NZQA and NCEA (yes Lockwood, we're looking at you); the former transport minister (Maurice Wimpianson)who happily took away our lifetime driving licenses so he could try and slip an ID card past us; the welfare spokeswoman (Judith Collins) who gets a full time salary for doing far less than the part-time blogger who seems to supply her with her best lines; and the woman from Dunedin who'd prefer to spend more time with he own children than these mentally challenged numb nuts. At least Katherine Rich's young kids have a decent excuse for having a mental age less than their shoe size.
So these are just some of the targets that are missed when Labour shoot only in John Boy's direction. What a shame not to shoot some of these other fish as they scrape their way around the bottom of the barrel.