In the most recent Fairfax Media-Ipsos (how many bloody names does it need?) poll, the post leadership election high David Cunliffe was enjoying, has burned out. No matter, it was always going to. I predicted as much although I have to admit being wrong on the timing (I thought the numbers would remain solid until the lead up to Christmas) but right in principle: the swell of support for Labour was shallow, only a temporary side affect of a fresh presence and frequent media attention. See the news story about the poll here.
This is not to say that Cunliffe has failed however, his greatest risk was the thin bubble of support not bursting until much later, for then he would not have the luxury of time to build a sturdy base of support before the next election. John Key is in a strong position, this cannot be contradicted, and he now has a strengthening economy and returning expat population to add weight to his bid for a third term.
What this does for Key is cement his position as National Party Leader until after the general election. Judith Collins in positioning herself to succeed him, but she won’t stage a coup this term. In fact she will likely wait until Key goes of his own accord, then step in with the support of the 2008 and 2011 intake of National MPs
This should not concern the leftists, because David Cunliffe is at his best when his back is up against the wall. It’s how he rebuilt his profile after Shearer demoted him, it is the nature of strong leaders. Helen Clark in 1996, Tony Blair in the lead up to the campaign in Kosovo. Achievements have to be taken though struggle and effort, and that is what Cunliffe is good at. Now he has the time and the opportunity. You want people to get out and vote? Then tell them you are going to save them from a disastrous National majority government, the likes of which no seen under MMP. Cunliffe will do this with his characteristic evangelical flair.