You’ve got to wonder why we bother hiring these high-flying press advisers, campaign strategists and what-have you.
The Boss has done the right thing on the Northland by-election campaign trail thanks to advice – freely given – by the Member for Eketahuna North.
The advice was to tell it like it is.
Our promises to build bloody bridges in a far-flung part of the country and give the locals broadband are blatant bribes.
Vote for some other plonker and we don’t pay up.
Because Alf is a firm believer in the vote-winning possibilities of bribes – or pork barrelling, if you are squeamish – he was delighted to hear the bridge-building plan announced when it looked like Winston Peters was in with a chance.
But he was dismayed when he heard:
In a press conference held today in Wellington, Prime Minister John Key discussed the upcoming Northland By-Election and allegations of the GCSB conducting mass spying in the Pacific.
Key said that National will keep its promise to upgrade 10 one-way bridges in Northland even if National candidate Mark Osborne loses in the election.
Tell it like it is.
We are using the taxpayer’s money to buy votes.
Alf picked up the phone and got straight through to The Boss to tell him what he thinks about giving Northland anything, let alone upgraded bridges, if they vote for Peters.
The advice seems to have been taken – up to a point – because a day or so later the Herald reported:
Prime Minister John Key is unapologetic about rolling out multi-million-dollar promises during the Northland byelection and says more is to come as rivals claim it is simply pork barrelling to try to hold on to the seat.
Mr Key said National “unashamedly” wanted to win the byelection. He said it was standard practice to release policies during byelections, although he could not recall instances of National doing so in previous byelections.
The bridges were not included in National’s big regional roading announcement before the 2014 election and Mr Key said the party decided to put it forward last week. He dismissed Mr Peters’ objections as sour grapes. “We are in Government and we can do things. He’s in Opposition and he can just yap on about things.”
But another phone call was needed for Alf to persuade The Boss that he really had to make plain there will be no wider bridges if they make Peters their MP.
And so today Alf was awoken to read this report at Stuff:
John Key is warning voters there is no “free lunch” in the Northland by-election, as National claims major roads and free-trade deals will be in doubt if Winston Peters wins.
Stuff should have mentioned Alf and perhaps run his picture, when it said Key and a wave of National MPs were back in Northland on Thursday to pitch in behind candidate Mark Osborne.
But the nugget in the report was this:
Speaking to Turners & Growers in Kerikeri yesterday, Key said “all the other parties [were] ganging up on National” making the contest difficult.
If National lost the seat it had held for more than half a century, there could be consequences, such as throwing into doubt the South Korean free trade agreement (FTA) he is due to sign in Seoul this month, because it would require a vote in Parliament.
“If we lose Northland, it’s not costless,” Key said.
“We may not be able to pass it – it’s not a free lunch if you think about it. From our point of view, we actually need to hold that seat if we can, for what we like to do.
“As we can see with the other political parties, they’re all over the place when it comes to FTAs.”
And more to the point for those people who couldn’t give a toss about free trade agreements:
“If the people of Northland want the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway extension, which is vital to open up Northland to our biggest market . . . if we want that, there’s only one choice, and that’s to vote for me,” Osborne said.
If he lost the by-election there was a “real risk” the road might not go ahead.
Stuff says it understands the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway is yet to receive final signoff but the Government is reportedly planning to announce a start date soon, possibly as part of the by-election strategy.
That’s certainly what Alf was urging.
And if they vote for Peters – well, Peters is all they should get.