Colin Espiner blogs about the predictability of it all, and notes:
Clark’s chief attack dog, Trevor Mallard, was up early this morning, padding around the press gallery distributing National’s science policy. It’s the fourth National policy release Mallard has made in the past four days, which certainly beats the number of policies Labour has released recently.
Labour followed this up with interviews outside its caucus room with Mallard and Clark. Science Minister Pete Hodgson was there too in case anyone wanted to hear his opinion of National’s policy, but no one did.
Clark and Mallard both claimed that a disgruntled National insider, angry at the way leader John Key was running the show, was leaking the policies to embarrass the party and damage it in the polls. There was, Mallard says, “simmering resentment” within the caucus at the way Key was “muzzling the caucus” and the releases were retaliation.
It’s a fair enough line of attack, and what you’d expect Labour to say. But I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Whenever someone tries to sell you something in this game, one always needs to look beyond the initial story and ask who stands to benefit and what the possible motivation could be. In this case, it is Labour that benefits, hugely, particularly on a day when Glenn is set to deliver explosive (doh!) evidence before the privileges committee.
As for motivation, it’s extremely difficult to understand why anyone in National would want to sabotage the party when it’s ten points give or take ahead in the polls and the odds-on favourite to form the next government. Even if some caucus or party members dislike the way Key runs things, being in government is a whole lot more attractive than being in opposition.
Another reason I don’t buy Labour’s explanation is that having been around this place awhile I think I can tell when the National Party is discontented. It’s generally pretty clear. I’m not saying the MPs write it in lights above their caucus room, but let’s just say the caucus discipline is not as tight as in Labour.
Maybe I’m just out of the loop these days but I don’t pick up any such sentiment at the moment, beyond the usual everyday grumbles.
So where is the policy coming from? I admit the Copperfields explanation is becoming a little less likely, given the science policy is not a natural fit with the environment, conservation, and biofuels strategies that could logically have been bundled up.
I admit I don’t have the answer. Hopefully it will become clear. But I don’t think Labour is squeaky clean in all of this.
Come on Helen, Michael, Trevor and Co - you'll have to do better!