Key tastes victory as Labour limps
The Labour Party is having huge difficulty dealing with John Key. If it doesn't come up with an effective strategy to tackle him soon, it risks creating a sense of inevitability about a change of government next year, and then it's doomed.
Labour's performance last week can't have given its supporters much heart. Too many in its ranks see Key as having committed the ultimate sin of social mobility. Theoretically, this is what Labour is meant to stand for but, in practice, it is quite clear they hate him for it.
When Key first became nationally recognised in 2005, Michael Cullen's tactic was to kiss him to death, praising him for his integrity, life story and moderation.
But when Key proved he could better Cullen in any TV debate, the finance minister's veneer faded. Key became "adolescent", "silly" and "hysterical". By October last year, Cullen was labelling him a "working-class scab".
These extraordinarily nasty attacks on Key's background remain central to Labour's strategy.
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