Editorial: Yet another diversion

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014

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OPINION: It is fair enough that Labour Party leader David Cunliffe can't remember something that happened 11 years ago.

Especially as the letter he's apparently signed on behalf of wealthy businessman Donghua Liu was drafted and sent by a staff member. And all it sought was for immigration officials to set a timeframe to decide Liu's case.

But people in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones, as Cunliffe has been caught doing. In fact, it was rocks he was hurling at National's Maurice Williamson for a similar "offence".

One can imagine the glee when National spotted Liu through the panes, but no doubt debated long and hard about what to do about it.

Why? Because it quite likes David Cunliffe leading the main opposition party. Why? Because Cunliffe hasn't captured the public's imagination since being appointed leader in September.

Labour in fact has gone backwards in the polls, and there are only three months until the election.

So National has been a little muted in condemning him, wanting to make a point publicly but not really wanting to force him out.

In so doing it has foisted another distraction on Labour when it should be attacking the Government.

Cunliffe says he's not going anywhere, and his senior colleagues are backing him. And why wouldn't they, because if he went one of them would have to step up, and who wants to be that guy?

As far as transgressions go this was not a biggie, yet politics is all about perceptions. And sadly, once again for Labour, the perception is not good.

As the stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll showed, even former Labour Party voters are not sure now who to vote for.

That's not necessarily a good thing for the country. In six elections MMP hasn't delivered a single party majority yet, and while there certainly have been problems with particular coalitions, there has also been a tempering of the more extreme policies.

The nearest any party has been to date is this National one, with 59 seats (two short) in 2010.

If National did in fact end up with 71 seats and the next highest party 29, as the poll indicated, that is a mandate for it to do as it liked.

It would, indeed, be a staggering result, but can that 29-seat party do anything about it?

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- The Timaru Herald

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