Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Buck up, sore losers

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John Key is a smooth operator. Photo / Doug Sherring
John Key is a smooth operator. Photo / Doug Sherring

It's never nice being on the losing team. It's even worse when you have to wait years for a rematch (three if you're the government opposition - four if you're the All Blacks).

The best thing to do if you're on a team that's been trounced is to keep your head down, work on your selection process and devise a strategy that will see you reclaim the spoils that you believe are rightfully yours.

The All Blacks have been doing this; Labour, however, has not.

To be fair, no party looks flash in opposition. Every time they suggest something - like GST-free fruit and vege - the public can quite justifiably ask why that policy wasn't introduced while they were in government, if it's such a good idea.

When the public's going berko over the $36 million taxpayer contribution to Team New Zealand's America's Cup campaign, Labour can't jump on the bandwagon because, after all, it was their decision when running the country to enter into a binding contract to help fund the campaign.

So I accept that it's hard warming the bench when you've been sitting in the box seat for nine years.

But it's embarrassing to watch Labour's performance. As individuals, they all seem intelligent, engaging and passionate people. But as a party, they're a shambles.

I know that they feel they have to scrape away at John Key's Teflon exterior, given that Key is the selling point for National. But its recent sniping looks mean spirited and puerile.

David Cunliffe's comment that it was a bit rich for Key to tell people they had to tighten their belts - when he'd just collected a cool $5 million from his investments - was a case in point.

I will never be seriously wealthy because I don't have the smarts or the testosterone to take risks. I'm happy being a wage slave and letting ballsier people than me make millions.

So long as I can pay my bills on time, I'm happy.

But if people amass a fortune through legitimate means, good on them. Few people who fly first class or who have multi-million dollar mansions and properties overseas have got them through luck.

You'd think that having someone who was able to invest wisely would be a good choice for a prime minister.

Similarly with Key's decision to use a helicopter to fly between Hamilton and Auckland to fulfil his obligations. They weren't urgent obligations and with a bit of forward planning he could probably have been driven - but Labour's bollocking of his decision to fly has backfired.

According to reports, use of RNZAF aircraft was higher under the previous Labour administration and Helen Clark was not averse to making use of the airforce aircraft when she found herself stranded.

A prime minister going by helicopter to an engagement is probably a better option than being in a speeding motorcade and hanging your driver out to dry when you're found out - as history would note.

I have no doubt that the Opposition is getting frustrated with all the good press that Key - and by association National - is getting when they feel it is ill-deserved. But instead of blaming Key, the media and the lack of political nous among the population, they should suck it up and get on with formulating meaningful, middle New Zealand-oriented policy that will attract their core voters back to the fold.

Every first-term government has a honeymoon period. Labour just has to bide its time and work constructively on what matters - not get distracted with petty personal politics.

- Herald on Sunday

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