Vernon Small advises National to keep the dead rats down:
Labour will still try to attack over a “hidden agenda” on social service cuts. But if National can keep the dead rats down, and avoid indigestion in the ranks, it will offer fewer opportunities for the Government to bring up during the campaign.
The second strand of Dr Smith’s comments – that, through a discussion document process, policy the party wants to advance may be developed – would have surprised only the politically naive.
Perhaps that is because we in the media have not made it clear enough. National is not making these changes because it has had a complete change of heart or ideology. A more centrist fiscal policy and a nod in the direction of Keynesian economics has not recreated National in Labour’s image.
It has simply found a way to appeal to “Labour-plus” voters, rather than to become Labour- plus in perpetuity.
National isn’t Labour-lite but it has to win support from people who like some of Labour’s policies.
That means once the dead rodents are digested it will find National-type solutions to new challenges. Just as Labour bought Air New Zealand and the railways in response to unanticipated challenges. Just as Labour passed controversial electoral law, with the help of support parties, without a specific mandate.
(Perhaps Mr Key, though, would like to stop citing the so- called anti-smacking law, which was a Green bill that his party also supported without a “mandate”.)
National has not had a road-to- Damascus conversion. Its conversion, under pragmatic Mr English and the even more pragmatic Mr Key, is to the political necessities that former leader Don Brash never understood.
Exactly. It is better to swallow some dead rats, get into government, keep your promises and thereby win the trust of the electorate than to spend another three years in the wilderness. That done, you might in consultation, be able to implement more of the policies the country needs.
The alternative is to sit on the high horse of a more radical agenda in opposition.