One News has decided that it is time for the 2011 General Election campaign to begin. That's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the lead story on last night's 6pm bulletin where the news was breathlessly broken that John Key's DPS staff had blown out their budget. You can view the story here.
Unsurprisingly, it is Pete Hodgson throwing the poop around again. Hodgson has had the Prime Minister is his sights since well before the 2008 election; as Labour's strategist in 2008, it was he who drove the infamous H-Fee smear, which blew up in Labour's face a week before polling day. He has repeatedly tried through this Parliamentary term, but none of his dung has stuck to Key, whereas Hodgson has worn plenty.
And we are amused at the Labour Party's obsession with Hawaiian holidays for the PM. Sure; he owns a property there (usually described as a mansion). Prime Ministers, whichever side of the political divide they come from work tirelessly. When the opportunity arises for them to take time off, why not get away somewhere distant? But the "rich prick" mentality kicks in, and Labour and Hodgson especially get all alather. Did we hear the same outrage from Labour when Helen Clark climbed Mt Kilimanjaro or went cross-country skiing in Scandanavia? Of course not; Hodgson's faux outrgae is hypocritical, and reeks of sour grapes.
And we can't escape one conclusion. There is a very close (some would say cosy) relationship between One News and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. Kris Fa'afoi, MP for Mana, is a former TVNZ political reporter. His close confidante Francesca Mold is a senior member of Phil Goff's media team. It all seems just a little bit too convenient; a nod here and a wink there, and TVNZ submits an OIA request on which an exclusive news story is based? Coincidence or design? We'll let you be the judge of that.
The outcome of this story though is likely to be favourable to John Key, and it will rebound on Labour. Someone in the Labour strategy team needs to realise that attacking John Key's wealth through vicarious means is NOT the key to Labour winning the 2011 election. Voters are looking to Labour to provide policy, preferably policy which doesn't involve the expenditure of billions of dollars which we simply don't have. Personality politics will continue to improve John Key's poll ratings, and strip away what little support Labour retains. You'd think someone of Hodgson's acumen would understand that.