If patience is a virtue, then Cunliffe picks up the prize. Banished from the class two years ago for disloyalty, he hid in the bushes and kept quiet. When the caucus lost confidence in David Shearer, he jumped out yelling, “Pick me!” And they did… through gritted teeth. John Key is certainly worried. Cunliffe is everything Shearer wasn’t – articulate and arrogant. He must stay humble to get elected.
Still hanging in there five years on, Key is still remarkably popular despite his policy collapsing around him. Without him, National is toast. He’s still the best weapon in the team. His most laughable moment of 2013? Claiming asset sales were a success when few New Zealanders are buying them and prospectuses are being dumped and used to light summer fires.
This guy ain’t dead yet. He got Peter Dunne’s scalp in Parliament and caused him huge embarrassment – especially Dunne having to explain to his wife why he’d been texting one female journalist so frequently.
And he’ll have the PM losing sleep, too. If Key sticks to his principles he’ll have to rule Peters out again as a coalition partner when the New Year rolls around. Something tells me, though, that when you’re out of friends, ruling out a potential kingmaker will get harder for the PM. Watch for the nuances in this relationship the next 12 months.
From good to bad. Who are my three losers of the year?
ACT is constantly written off and it’s only there now because the PM allows it to be on life support. But Banks’s credibility and integrity are shot. The PM should close the door on him. How can a man not remember flying in a helicopter to get $50,000 off a giant German who lives in a mansion? He resigned as a minister but remains the MP for Epsom, propping up the government. Sorry Banksie, but the public thinks you’re a joke. Need we say more?
Here is the man who always positioned and presented himself as Mr Reliable and Mr Common Sense. A man in whom the government of the day could trust, right? Yeah, right! Peter Dunne made 2013 his mid-life crisis year. He leaked top-sensitive material to a female journalist and was caught out. He constantly rang and emailed her, even while on holiday with his wife. What was he thinking? He wasn’t. Will he stand again? Probably. Will Key take his vote? Yes. Will he trust him? No.
A good and decent man… who just wasn’t up to leading the Labour Party. He didn’t really want the job, but he got put there by the anti-Cunliffe faction and struggled from day one. He went with dignity in the end, but all those who say he chose to go are kidding themselves. He got shoulder-tapped – the caucus had lost confidence. Parliament requires a smart semi-automatic weapon to lead the opposition: he was carrying a feather.
And the local-body winners and losers?
She’s back and she can thank John Morrison for a sexist baby-boomer brain fade. What was he thinking? Like Peter Dunne, he wasn’t.
Len spent two years getting his rocks off on council property and in hotels around the city with a much younger council employee whom he helped get a job at Auckland Art Gallery. At the time of writing he was still the mayor, but who knows what will happen.
Brown presented himself as the slightly religious, church going, fun-loving family man of South Auckland, but it all turned out to be a huge white lie. His credibility is in tatters, and he only remains in office because the behaviour of his opponents was just as bad. Auckland local-body politics is in disarray.