As we enter the final week of the election campaign, messages from National and Labour (and their acolytes) are becoming very focused. The Winston Peters bogeyman line is the consistent theme being pushed by John Key and right wing commentators - see this covered in the following stories: John Armstrong's Spectre of resurgent Peters has PM dancing to different tune and Audrey Young's John Key's new target: Winston.
Obviously New Zealand First is both a threat and an opportunity for National. It's a threat because the Peters party has a very good chance of making it over the 5% threshold - and this is the only scenario in which National might reasonably be expected to lose power. The teapot tapes drama has given Peters invaluable media coverage at exactly the right time.
The nightmare scenario for National is this: Winston Peters clearing 5%, Act and United Future out of parliament and National trending downwards to below 48%. Under this situation National could still lose what once seemed to be an unloseable election.
Of course it's also an opportunity for National to scare their voters out of complacency, to frighten wavering voters who may not want National to have absolute power but still want a National government, and to terrify the National voters of Epsom into supporting John Banks. Other important or interesting items on this include: Dim Post's Dogwhistle of the day and Imperator Fish's very funny blog post, Trying Hard To Lose which paints a picture of the extremes Paul Goldsmith might be forced to go to in order to throw the election in Epsom.
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Labour has two straws remaining to which they are clutching for dear life. The first is that there is an outside chance they can still win the election. No one likes voting for losers and so they have to be seen as being contenders in the last week. The rise of Winston Peters - even though it may be partially at a cost to their own vote - actually gives Labour some slim hope. So despite Peters taking equal whacks at Labour as well as National, Labour are biting their tongues.
The only real ammunition Labour has left is opposition to asset sales and they will hammer this for the rest of the week - see: Audrey Young's two items, Labour stakes it all on stopping asset sales and Goff: 'New Zealand is not for sale' Empty posturing over state assets.
Apart from asset sales there is a chance that no other actual policy might see the light of day in this campaign, although TV3 is screening what looks like a very interesting and heavily political documentary tomorrow night - see: Michelle Duff's Shock look at NZ's child poverty. On issues of inequality, also see Tapu Misa's Differing values widen the chasm.
It's likely that the teapot saga will continue to dominate as it has for the past week. Although the issue is probably irritating and boring the vast majority of voters and politicos, it just won't die. Today the Herald is supposed to be subjected to a Police search warrant, tomorrow the cameraman will get his day in the High Court, and on Wednesday TVNZ is expected to receive their visit from the Police. This will continue to impact negatively on the two major parties, raising further questions about the Prime Minister's handling of the matter, and depriving Labour of much needed media attention. Winston Peters and the Greens will hope the controversy carries on, boosting their chances for Saturday.
Items worth reading on the teapot tapes include: Vernon Small's Tea party rivals Alice's stupidest ever , Vernon Small and Kate Chapman's Tape talk private, say voters , John Armstrong's The best and the worst of weeks for John Key , the Herald editorials Teapot affair too trivial for raids on media and Key counts cost of evasiveness, the Standard's How bad are National's internals?, and Andrew Geddis' Time for a cup of tea, perhaps.
Other important reads today are: Mathew Grocott's Massey poll survey gives interesting reading, Rob Salmond's Poll of polls update, and some projections, too, and Bernard Hickey's Politicians avoiding main concerns.