It’s a measure of the confidence streaming through the National Party that The Boss is buggering off with Branagh for a pre-election break.
He had confided in Alf a few days ago about his plans, but the NZ Herald has broken the news publicly today:
With only 71 days to the election, Prime Minister John Key is taking an extended overseas holiday, thought to be at his bolt-hole on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
When the Herald contacted his office yesterday for comment on renewed calls for Foreign Minister Murray McCully to resign, it was told he was on holiday and would not be back at work until July 21.
Assuming he plans to spend Sunday July 20 reading Cabinet papers for the next day’s meeting, that’s a 10-day break.
And what does this mean for the Nats’ campaign strategy?
Not a whit.
Campaign manager and Cabinet minister Steven Joyce did not believe Mr Key’s break would cause National to lose momentum. “We’ve got a lot of things going on. He works very, very hard and we want to make sure he is in good physical shape. He’s a pretty healthy individual but everyone needs a chance to recharge.”
He hinted that Mr Key had been reluctant to take the time off but his colleagues had insisted, as they had last election.
“It’s like forcing him out the door to take a few days to freshen up and recharge before he has to get into the last 10 weeks or so of the campaign.”
Joyce said a few MPs from both sides of the House would be taking time off during the two-week recess, which coincides with school holidays.
The Grumbles’ sprogs long ago left school so Alf does not have to worry much about school holidays nowadays.
He will relax nevertheless, perhaps spending much more time down at the Eketahuna Club, which is a great place to limber up for something important like an election campaign.
The country is in good hands while The Boss is away, of course, because Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is running the shop as acting Prime Minister.
What about Labour’s leader?
The Herald has something of an answer:
A spokesman for David Cunliffe said the Labour leader, after launching an Information and Communications Technology policy in Auckland this morning, would be taking a break.
Alf has been tempted to send a bit of advice to the Labour Party on how to significantly enhance its prospects of closing the glaringly wide gap in the opinion polls.
This gap has become so glaring that it looks rather like the final score in the German-Brazil game at the World Cup in Brazil this week. Alf is fully confident, of course, that his advice will help narrow the gap (making the final score 7-3, let’s say) but not close it.
And what is this advice, you will be wondering?
It’s that Cunliffe go far, far away for a very long holiday.
Not just 10 days. Ten months.
Even better – 10 years.
The effect in rejuvenating Labour’s prospects would be magical.
He is such a fair-minded fellow, when it comes to politics, that he will take his advice down to the Labour Party’s branch office in Eketahuna later today (but he thinks it better not to let party colleagues know what he is planning because they would like the final score to look more like 10-0).