Political pundits have been prodding, poking and pontificating over two fresh lots of poll figures. The results are more heartening for the Government than for the Opposition. The National Party made gains in the One News Colmar Brunton poll and the TV3 Reid Research poll but both surveys showed Labour down slightly. The Greens remain around 11-12 per cent, NZ First is below the 5 per cent threshold for list seats and all other minor parties are further back as also-rans.
Most challenging for Labour, Prime Minister John Key remains the strong favourite as preferred prime minister while Labour leader David Shearer lost ground in both polls.
One commentator said Mr Shearer was not to blame for those results because he can't do everything and his front bench was “not firing”.
But Labour's lag needs explaining, too, in the context of events it should have been able to turn to its advantage, such as the controversy over Maori water rights and National's determination to press ahead with highly unpopular asset sales.
Inevitably, at a time when sporting events in Hamilton and London have commanded much greater attention than politics, some writers have drawn Olympian analogies. One columnist talked of Mr Shearer's third attempt at the poll vault (his run-up was smooth, “but he launched off only to discover the Green Party had chopped off the bottom third of his pole and taken away the safety mat before he landed”).
Ele, on the Homepaddock blog, quoted Mr Shearer as saying there's no shame in coming second. “The Australians appear to be struggling with their bridesmaid status in so many Olympic events but there is no shame in silver,” he supposedly said. But no source for the remark was cited, suggesting this was satire.
A better analogy might be the gruelling three-week Tour de France, a 20-stage 3479-kilometre bike race that takes riders over the Alps and the Pyrenees. Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara was leading after stage one this year, but Britain's Bradley Wiggins was the winner. Labour's team under Mr Shearer has more than two years to do its overtaking. And if he does happen to think it's no bad thing to come second - try telling that to Chiefs supporters.
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