With all the other stuff swirling around at the moment - an immigration scandal, a careless Cabinet Minister and an unwanted, over-priced railway, it would be easy to forget that Michael Cullen has the expectations of the left to deal with tomorrow as he delivers his budget speech. Claire Trevett does the pre-match analysis in this morning's NZ Herald:
Trevett thinks that this is a bridge to far for Cullen and for Labour:
"Yet far from being the party's salvation, this Budget - with expectations riding almost impossibly high - could well be Dr Cullen's Waterloo. Dr Cullen has drunk from the cup of parsimony far too many times and Victoria University lecturer Jon Johansson said it had led to "an intractable negative perception" of him.
A political science lecturer, Mr Johansson doesn't think it will matter which figure Dr Cullen pulls out of his hat tomorrow. "When you talk to people about Cullen there is real intensity and negativity. I think he is Labour's biggest liability." "
Ouch - that must hurt Cullen! He's prided himself on being Labour's biggest "fix-it" man, and now he's being called a liability. I don't envy the job he faces, especially given the latest poll results. Then again, if he'd been a bit more beneficient in better times, the public night not have such an "intractible negative perception".
What can Cullen do? Does he have any rabbits to pull out of the hat? Does he even have a hat? I'd love to hear what you think...