So we did. And where do you go when you want a straight-up, no bullshit opinion? Yep; the deep south. And under the heading That The Best They Can Do? the Southland Times editorial opines:
Throwing clods at the Government isn't going to get Labour elected.
The Opposition has been far too indiscriminate in what it regards as useful ammunition to target at the Government – and primarily, lately, Prime Minister John Key. The result is scant damage. Worse, it makes the assailant look petty, if not desperate.
It was an almost pitiable attack when Labour sought to portray National as venal on the grounds it received a $50,000 donation from an Auckland BMW dealership after agreeing to upgrade its BMW limo fleet.
The two companies were separate. The dealership that thought the Nats were pretty did not benefit at all from the deal struck with BMW New Zealand. Labour's Trevor Mallard replies that there is still, "at least a perception" of conflict of interest.
No there isn't, in spite of Labour's attempt to conjure one up.
Yep; as we said; straight-up; but the mayhem continues - read on:
For one thing, if this was some sort of kickback directed through a friend-of-a-friend, you would think it would head in the direction of the politicians who were in power when the deal was lined up. That would be Labour. The Nats merely went ahead with an agreement already lined up and awaiting signature.
Some would say this creates at least a perception that Mr Mallard might be narked that any kickback didn't go towards Labour.
Then again, the BMW deal was really struck with ministerial services, which means there must be at least a perception that the Department of Internal Affairs executives were the ones who missed out on the dealership's largesse.
Mr Key simply doesn't need any Teflon abilities to withstand this sort of attack. It even lacks the smear potential that comes from throwing mud. It's a political clod. Doesn't even sting.
For that matter there was never going to be sufficient reward in Labour's ballistic efforts regarding the cost of painting Premier House, or Prime Ministerial helicopter journeys, or bodyguard expenses.
Nobody – but nobody – should believe that this is the best material Labour, or the other Opposition parties, have at their disposal. Labour's spoilt for choice, but choosing badly.
The leader writer is dead right. There's an election coming up in just over six months, yet Labour seems mired in a mindset of petty personal attacks which aren't getting any traction with either the public or the media, other than those like One News to whom "exclusives" are being drip-fed.
There's a Budget next week, and John Key has already foreshadowed changes to KiwiSaver, Working For Families and Student Loans that will not be universally popular. Surely, Labour has more to gain by playing the ball than playing the man.
And we'll leave the final word to the Southland Times:
It's not as if the big issues are essentially worthy-but-dull and the media is too flighty to stay focused on them. These issues affect us all, powerfully, painfully and persistently. It may well be that Labour isn't yet ready to go public with detailed policies, but that still leaves a wealth of material under the "are you better off under National" heading.
Alternatively, if the strong tactical imperative simply has to be to go after John Key on character issues, then Labour needs to find a far sharper stiletto than it has to date. Impotent malice – not a good look.