Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: The MPs who could and should have done better

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John Key seemed to develop a political Alzheimer's when questions about tricky issues were put to him. Photo / NZ Herald
John Key seemed to develop a political Alzheimer's when questions about tricky issues were put to him. Photo / NZ Herald

For these 10 prominent politicians, I believe events this year seal their fates. For all practical purposes their careers are over.

10. Tariana Turia: On her way out. Presiding over the imminent death of her Maori Party. Trying to force out her co-leader was clumsy. Was the deal she got with National over the foreshore and seabeds any different from what she was offered by Labour? Does anyone remember or care?

9. Brendan Horan: Political career stillborn. He didn't understand rumours of him spending a little old lady's money was a bottom line for Winston Peters. After all, little old ladies are NZ First's core constituency.

8. Maryan Street: Hasn't landed a single blow on her opposite number. The only time she got a mention was on her private member's bill on euthanasia. I would have thought killing a patient wasn't the best way to make your name as health spokesperson. She's lucky Labour has a shortage of experienced women.

7. Nanaia Mahuta: Pretended to be a serious contender for the deputy leadership. Got education job instead and was never heard of again. Chris Hipkins now does all the lifting for Labour in education. Other employees get sacked for stealing their wages. So should she.

6. Tau Henare: Humiliatingly hawking himself for the Speaker's job to his political enemies because his own party wouldn't support him. When you started life as a working class hero and morph into someone who publicly offered to sweep the floor for Don Brash, there's nothing else to say. Referred to these days as Uncle Tau. Sad and embarrassing.

5. John Banks: The guy from Struggle Street who spent a lifetime building a solid public reputation. Now the so-called Act leader is a pariah. There are things worse than death. Being a sniggering political joke comes close. Tragic and pathetic.

4. Pita Sharples: Being publicly shafted by his co-leader and his overly cosy relationship with the National leader makes his future bleak. It's true that nice guys come last. His friends should beg him to retire with dignity.

3. David Cunliffe: This guy went from Helen Clark's less-than-secret choice for leader to where even his closest allies pretend they don't know him. Everyone says he's smart. So why was he so easily out-manoeuvred and dispatched to the backbench without any internal backlash? The public have rewarded his leader and party by boosting both in the polls since. Disconnected from reality?

2. Hekia Parata: Just a train wreck. Spin will get you in the door but hard work and talent keeps you there. Everything she touches turns to shite. It's her arrogance and lack of self-awareness that give her supreme confidence. Even the Prime Minister, master salesman himself, must see an incompetent bungler who will bring the whole party down around her. Cut her quick.

1. John Key: This year has finished him. His evasiveness over Kim Dotcom, his shonkiness over the SkyCity casino deal to give more pokies for a convention centre, his weakness managing his ministers and his forgetfulness on details of his job is starting to form real doubts that he's on top of his job. We like nice guys but we expect them to know what they're doing. This is the year he became a two-term prime minister.


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