Dunne leaves National in the lurch | The Jackal

22 Aug 2017

Dunne leaves National in the lurch

The announcement yesterday by Peter Dunne that he’s quitting politics before he loses his Ōhāriu seat to Labour candidate Greg O'Connor is one that should send shock waves through the right wing.

After all, Dunne’s single vote was often the only thing passing National's socially and environmentally destructive policies.

It’s not just about Bill English losing a coalition partner either. The strengthening Jacinda effect will likely mean that National's inexorable trend downwards in the polls continues.

Despite these facts, Bill English has claimed that he’s not worried about National's election prospects.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

PM Bill English downplays impact of United Future leader Peter Dunne quitting politics

National has already directed its supporters to vote for Dunne, and its candidate Brett Hudson has included this message on his campaign leaflets.

English and Hudson had both written personally to the electorate, asking them to vote for Peter Dunne in what is termed a dirty deal.

English denied that this put National in an awkward position, saying that it was easier to correct "one letter in one electorate" than change billboards across the country as Opposition parties had done in recent weeks.

Two letters, campaign leaflets and a televised and published request for the people of Ōhāriu to vote for the now defunct United Future party candidate.

"It's not a circus. Peter Dunne's made an unexpected decision, Brett Hudson is a well-known candidate, and he'll be fighting hard to win that seat."

It’s likely that Dunne’s support in Ōhāriu of around 34% will split pretty evenly between Labour’s candidate O’Connor and National's unknown Brett Hudson. That would put O’Connor on approximately 65%, or double that of Hudson's vote.

He was not worried about the loss of a support partner, saying National still "had a lot of voters".

English shouldn’t just be worried; he should be packing his daks! On average, National is polling lower leading into this election on 43% than in 2008 (50%), 2011 (55%) and 2014 (51%). With the loss of a coalition partner also hindering their chance of re-election, I'm almost tempted to call it.

On Sunday, Newshub reported:

Election tightens as National drops 3 percent in new poll

A new poll has National only three points ahead of Labour, and the Greens on steady footing, according to a report.

Polling by UMR for Labour has the resurgent party on 37 percent, and National 40 percent, NZME reports.

At 40%, National would be on the opposition benches, probably next to David Seymour.

There's also good news for the Green Party - UMR has it on 8 percent. That's lower than the mid-teens the party registered in some polls following Metiria Turei's welfare speech, but well above the 4.3 percent it registered in the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll earlier this week.

NZ First remains the kingmaker, on 9 percent.

If Winston Peters had a choice to form a Labour and Greens coalition, he's likely to change the government. Winnie has been brutal with his scathing attacks on the National party this election campaign. But never say never.

NZME noted the UMR poll traditionally has a lower result for National than other polls, but the decline - from 43 to 40 percent - mirrors that of the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, in which the party fell from 47 to 44 percent.

The trend is all downwards for the National party. It’s not only Dunne who’s read the writing on the wall, over the weekend the Maori party declared their preference to work with Labour and the Greens.

However if the Maori party leader Te Ururoa Flavell loses Waiariki to Labour candidate Tamati Coffey, and there's apparently only 1.5% in it, they too will no longer be in parliament.

English can give the pretence that he’s calm, but behind the scenes the National party will be very concerned that their election bribes are failing, Peter Dunne has quit, the Maori party has jumped ship and the Act party has gone rogue.

All of a sudden, National's dirty deals are looking very messy to an electorate already hungry for change.