Sometimes the next best thing to redemption via career hara kiri for a disgraced politician is to take the blade to the bad guys and remind us all whose side they are on. Clayton Cosgrove was in urgent need of political redemption or self-sacrifice after that visit to the Sky City corporate box at Eden Park. Sure enough he has blooded his blade, causing a brief divergence between John Key and Bill English, who suddenly had different stories to one another – and a different story again to treasury – on whether or not the proceeds of asset sales are going to be spent propping up Solid Energy.
This is the stuff opposition politics is built on – close reading of official paperwork, following one’s nose and baiting the hook, striking when the time is right and splitting the enemy camp so that they are so busy scrambling to get back on message that they throw lazy and easily refuted comments into the wind without thinking. For instance, Jonkey’s gonna look back on this one and burn:
Early yesterday Prime Minister John Key said Labour spokesman for state-owned enterprises Clayton Cosgrove was “making it up” when he had pointed to Treasury papers showing the Government was planning to use $100m from the sale of Mighty River Power shares for “Solid Energy recovery facilities”.
If you are going to make that kind of claim off the cuff, you’d best not be dealing with someone who stepped up to the plate ready to bat a home run. From the same article:
Key later backed down, saying the allocation appeared to be “buried pretty deep” in the Budget documents.
“I haven’t actually seen those myself, well I can’t recall them.” [cheers to Jonkey for bringing the obvious lulz - CJ]
Cosgrove said Key had revealed “his true incompetence … with his bizarre denial that asset sale proceeds have been set aside to bail out Solid Energy, despite signing it off in Cabinet”.
Jonkey’s lazy accusation that Cosgrove was “making it up” leaves the PM trying to credibly assert that on the one hand, he apparently knows enough to claim that Cosgrove is “making it up”, but on the other hand claim he either definitely hasn’t seen the papers, or can’t recall having seen them. Yes, he is still playing that card after all that has gone on.
Cosgrove meanwhile drives the humiliation home with a good sledge to the skull that shows Steven Joyce and Judith Collins up as the amateurs they really are at this stuff:
Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove found the reference to Solid Energy in the Budget documents and said National had promised that those asset sales proceeds would be used for other assets, “not to pay for its mistakes”.
Nice combo, Cosgrove – sew disarray in the enemy ranks that shows that the incumbent is getting flabby and off message, put a Nat-cat among the pigeons over at treasury, and put yet more gravel in the boots of the argument for asset sales. It also nicely lines up with the vulnerability this government has always felt over their tax cuts, which have necessitated a budget-blowing strategic deficit, which just keeps growing and growing. Instead of making the case for asset sales more compelling, it has slowly shaped into a whitewash, with the investment fund formed from the proceeds of asset sales looking more and more like a vehicle designed to go around papering over the cracks those tax cuts have caused.
Meanwhile, Jonkey and English are left childishly heaping the blame for Cosgrove’s revelation upon treasury officials:
English said Treasury, by booking the $100m against the cash from Mighty River Power, had taken “a conservative view” of the Cabinet decision that the money could be used to buy Solid Energy assets.
and from Key:
“Look, at the end of the day there’s a whole range of views come out of Treasury about what should happen next but none I’ve seen is to take money out of the mixed ownership process,” he said.
Maybe that’s why these guys are all about asset sales; they just hate taking ownership of anything!
Best of all though is that for those of us who reside outside the beltway, the result over at Stuff looks like this:
Well done, Cosgrove – you’ve just about earned your keep with that one. Now if the Labour party could bring itself to stop the navel gazing and attempting to re-live the debates of the 1970s and remember that this is what the working class wants – overconfident tory fucks getting served a belly full of their own cold blue steel for the first time in far too long by a left winger who knows the political value of a well served intervention and a documented fuckup.