Pot on the boil
UPDATE | 11:30AM: The PM's decision to use the police to heavy the media (over something supposedly "bland" and innocuous has now extended into the state's own media organisations - RNZ reporting:
The tea tape controversy has led to a police demand that Radio New Zealand hand over unpublished news material.
Police are investigating a complaint from National Party leader John Key that his conversation with ACT candidate John Banks, at a media event in an Auckland cafe, was illegally recorded.
Officers working on the case have contacted Radio New Zealand wanting unpublished material relating to interviews it conducted with the cameraman who made the recording which he gave to a Sunday newspaper.
Radio New Zealand's head of news, Don Rood, has refused to hand over any material gathered by news staff and says the news organisation will always protect its sources.
Police have told him that they will get a search warrant and execute it on Thursday or Friday.
Radio New Zealand says it does not have a copy of the tape at the centre of the complaint.
Search warrants now! So did John Key disclose State secrets to John Banks at their meeting? Why else would the police intervene in this extraordinary manner? This adds to people's suspicions of an odious conversation - one so embarassing there are no lengths the PM will not go in hushing it up. What other conclusion can the public draw? It's a terribly bad look, one blunder after another.
Key is saying there's no smoke let alone a fire and yet he's dialled the fire brigade with every unit responding. It doesn't add up.
After a while the whistling kettle starts screaming and no matter what you were doing before you have to take it off the boil to stop the noise.
Problem is the hysterical, sanctimonious PM has called in the cops to heavy the media over something he insists is "bland" and that leaves him in a quandary of his own making. The pot is screaming and the one who put it on is the only one pretending he can't hear it. If the recording was made by a newspaper whose title contains the word 'Sunday' it doesn't take an international currency trader to work out the contents will come out on Sunday at the latest. Trying to stop the inevitable is foolish and attempts to do so make Key look weak.
Any way he moves he looks bad at this point. With the Nats - and Act - investing every cent into brand Key the entire National campaign - and that of the right - now looks like a gamble rather than an investment as the whole lot hinges on an increasingly unhinged John Key. For the first time he looks panicked and not in full control.
Walking out (even if it was stage-managed) of one's own press conference is a poor performance - another bad look to try to avoid facing up to another bad look. It's like a concertina car accident in which one vehicle smashes inevitably into another: National and Act collide, United Future is drifting into the ditch and all this carnage has brought Winston into the fore.
The whole idea of throwing Act a lifeline has turned into throwing a noose around both parties. The latest Epsom polling strongly suggests the loyal conservative Tories of the wealthiest electorate are getting sick of the games:
Don Brash told Morning Report he agrees that not releasing the tape suggests Mr Key has something to hide.
However, he says it is not his decision to make.
"Essentially the Prime Minister was hosting that cup of tea and I think it's his decision to release it or not," he says.
He agrees there is public interest in the tape's contents and that the continued secrecy is fuelling speculation about what was said.
National Party president Peter Goodfellow had agreed to an interview with Morning Report on the subject but withdrew on Wednesday morning. Mr Key and Mr Banks had declined to be interviewed.
For the first time I have to question whether Banks will get in. And even if he does my 2.5% prediction (made last month)for Act's party vote seems utterly unrealistic. Mr Bradbury's long-held dream scenario of Epsom rejecting Banks and Act polling under 2% (closer to 1%) seem realistic at this point. I can't see anything reversing this slide. As long as Brash keeps his jaw flapping it can only get worse for this parasitic micro-party.
With chaos on the right, trying to peddle privatisation of the nation's assets as a way out of a world slump (WTF!?), and with Winston in play, the Greens on record high polling and consequently Labour back in contention - and with Mana's leader getting kudos from respected quarters of the establishment - a credible alternative left government now looks a possibility.