Someone get Kelvin Davis a bottle of something strong, because this is going to hurt.

From here on in, government is going to be painful for Ardern's 2IC.

He's just marked himself as an easy target. The baby buck straggling behind the rest of the herd, if you like.

If National wants to pick someone off, claim a scalp, he's the obvious option.


And it looks like National knows that.

Kelvin Davis is the rising star that turned out to be nothing more than a distant motorcycle light. He could be something, but it hasn't happened.

Just before last year's election, Labour picked him from the middle of the pack and promoted him to deputy leader. He was there on the strength of scoring some big hits on National Government-run prisons. And on the strength of being Māori. It made a good headline. Davis as Labour's first Māori deputy leader.

But then, things started going awry. Davis got a case of the yips. All that promise evaporated in a cloud of nervous perspiration and self-doubt.

It started after a month in government. Davis was acting prime minister for the first time. He was a flop. He couldn't answer questions in Parliament's debating chamber. He should've been able to. He is the second most important person in the party after all. But he needed the fourth, fifth and seventh most important people to tell him the answers in front of everyone watching, before he could stand up and give them.

Then things went very wonky last week in Parliament when he told a senior National Party MP to stop being hysterical. Given that MP is a woman and there's an awkward bit of history where men took to diagnosing women with hysteria, then remedying it with hysterectomies, that wasn't wise. Also it sounded arrogant. He apologised the next day.

Things got worse when he stuffed up the Waikeria prison announcement. The Government should have been saying, "Yay, we're not building a mega prison! This one's way more empathetic and modern with 100 mental health beds". Instead, the headlines were about Davis' fluffs. Multiple fluffs.

First, he couldn't answer a reporter who asked how many of the prison's inmates would be double-bunked. The Corrections CEO standing alongside him had to answer. Afterwards, Davis had an explanation for the mind blank. He gets "nervous" before interviews. His words.


Then, he went on Newstalk ZB's Drive Show with me and said it didn't matter too much that all those extra mega-prison beds wouldn't eventuate because if things got really crowded, they had an ugly solution. They'd just throw a few mattresses on the floor. Again, his words.

Wherever Davis' mojo is gone, he needs to get it back. Because it looks like National has smelled his fear and is coming after him.

The day after he stuffed up the Waikeria prison announcement, National MPs were all over him in Parliament. Three Parliamentary questions. One after the other. Boom, boom, boom.

To put that in context, every question has a series of supplementary questions attached to it. So Davis faced what would've felt like 100 questions in a row. That would've taken hours to prep for. Two thirds of the way through, he started answering in te reo. Smart way to break the pressure. Pretty bloody obvious.

National may be itching to claim a scalp. They could maybe have taken Clare Curran's scalp earlier this year but they passed. It was too easy and too early. If they'd scored her resignation over the Carol Hirschfeld active-wear coffee date, they might've looked too unkind and prompted pity for Jacinda Ardern and her Government. But, time has passed, Ardern's on maternity leave and National could do with a win.

If Davis doesn't give himself an uppercut, he might be that scalp.