Mark Sainsbury: NZ politics a circus on steroids

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In the circus vernacular, we're at the high-wire act. Everyone is waiting to see if there's another fall coming. Photo / Thinkstock
In the circus vernacular, we're at the high-wire act. Everyone is waiting to see if there's another fall coming. Photo / Thinkstock

The circus is in town.

The game of politics is often compared to a circus and despite the seriousness of the allegations over dirty tricks, it's still hard to escape that comparison.

Just like with the circus, many are aware it's in town because of the noise it generates. Some go to see it but the vast majority will miss the actual performance. So will it still leave an impression?

You could argue there's plenty of impressions that should linger. Judith Collins sacked/resigned. An inquiry to be held into whether she colluded to undermine the head of the SFO. The Security Intelligence Service's watchdog launching her own inquiry into Beehive staff allegedly misusing SIS material, plus the rest of the Dirty Politics fallout.

In the circus vernacular, we're at the high-wire act. Everyone is waiting to see if there's another fall coming.

And the only performers anyone is paying any attention to right now are the Nats. Labour leader David Cunliffe may have lifted his game but he may as well have the big shoes on and be driving aimlessly around the ring in the clown car. It doesn't make any difference, though, because all eyes are on the high wire. But one more fall and the red nose could be swapped for the ringmaster's top hat.

And the circus theme is spreading. On Sunday, I was hosting my RadioLive morning show with former Labour Party president Mike Williams, former National Party president Michelle Boag and rightwing blogger lobbyist and mostly National supporter Matthew Hooton. It was a circus on steroids. As I asked about rival factions in the National Party, Hooton launched an attack on John Key's office -- claiming its staff were directing Whale Oil and the others in dirty tricks -- and described the Government's behaviour as "indefensible".

He then turned on Michelle Boag, blaming her for putting some of those staff in place. In fact, her greatest crime, he alleged, was for being "an apologist for the National Party".

Boag, of course, gave as good as she got but if anything answered the question of factions it was their fierce interchange.

As the hour progressed, Mike Williams' smile got broader and broader and Hooton and Boag were agreeing that a John Key re-election was the ultimate goal despite Hooton's claim something was rotten on the ninth floor.

Now those ninth-floor staffers will have to front up to an inquiry by the Security Intelligence Service's watchdog, which inexplicably excludes their boss, the PM himself.

Then there's the curious matter of the email that brought down Collins. Key says he was told about it on Friday. But senior members of his Government knew about it at least two days earlier. So who exactly is running this circus and does it really matter? Because as the taxi driver taking me to the airport later said, "It's all a circus, I don't pay any attention."

Don't you love elections!

- NZ Herald

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