Bill English’s secret speech

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Here is the leaked text of the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech during a closed session of National’s northern region conference

This morning I warned that Labour could win the election and that we must guard against complacency.

But I didn’t mean it. I had my fingers crossed behind my back all the time.

I warned that under our MMP system a divided opposition could still take power, even though we were the biggest party in Parliament.

But I was just kidding. I had you all for a minute, didn’t I?

Now we’ve kicked the media out for this session. It was Judith’s idea, although John and I had to talk her out of tasering them as well.  So I can be honest with you. I only said what I said because it’s what the media want to hear. It looks bad to appear arrogant and complacent.

But if there ever was a time for complacency, now is that time. We may as well relax and enjoy ourselves in 2014, because I reckon we might have our work cut out for us if we want to win again in 2017.

So if you’re planning a holiday sometime this year, September’s probably a good time to go.

When I look over at the opposition I see disarray and disorganisation. I’m not really sure why we’re even bothering with an election this year. Surely nobody on the left really believes they can win it, and if you ask me we ought to call the whole thing off and save the taxpayer a few million dollars.

But our constitutional arrangements require us to engage in this election cycle farce, even if the result this time is an utter certainty. It’s a forgone conclusion. It’s in the bag. We can bank this cheque, knowing it won’t bounce.

If ever there was a time for us to leave stones unturned in our push for electoral victory, that time is now. If you’re grasping onto any mettles or nettles (and I never know which of the two I ought to be grasping at), it’s probably safe now to let go of them. Leave the grasping to Labour and their straws.

We can put all the eggs in one basket, safe in the knowledge that the chickens we’ve been counting won’t be coming home to roost this election. The deed is done, and the fat lady has sung. The wheels are in motion, and nothing can now stop this fast train to electoral victory.

Labour have no show. Our polling is solid, and we have a dream team of capable and popular MPs and ministers, led of course by the main star John Key. It really doesn’t matter how many ministerial scandals we fall into between now and September, because the people love us. We are adored, ladies and gentlemen. Adored!

And how they adore us. I’ve given my safe electoral seat to a tobacco lobbyist, just to prove this very point. If we weren’t so universally admired it would have been a silly thing to do, but I know I have nothing to worry about. The good folk of Clutha-Southland would vote for anyone the National Party selected as their candidate.

Some people have questioned my decision to remain solely as a list MP after the election, but the reason’s quite simple: I can’t be bothered campaigning locally this election. Why bother when the result is certain? I’ll have so much time up my sleeves this time round that I may even offer my services to Labour, just to try and make a contest of this election.

I have some advice to those of you here today seeking election or re-election as an MP in 2014. Although I abhor animal cruelty in all its guises, if anyone is thinking of holding whale-hunts or seal-clubbings as part of their local promotional or fundraising efforts, this would be the year to do it. If we engage in such disgusting behaviours in 2017 we may well be punished at the polls by the voters. But the people of this country will forgive just about anything right now, so if you have to get any sort of depravity out of your system I recommend you do it now rather than in three years’ time. Scratch that itch till it bleeds!

They say that to the victor goes the spoils, and that of course will be us. They also say that hard work is the key to success, but I disagree. Why work hard if the result will still be a crushing victory?

Many in the party are gearing up for a long hard election campaign. They’re out there recruiting new members, seeking donations, and planning where their hoardings are going to go. They’re encouraging people to get involved by issuing dire warnings about the damage a Labour-led government could do to this country. I have a message for those people: relax, guys. Take a break. Put your feet up. It’s in the bag. We’ve got this one.

I hear others telling us we need to work harder every day to retain our popularity. It has taken a lot of hard work to get us where we are today, just about the most loved government since they started governing. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that. But Rome was sacked many times during its long history, and it always bounced back. So why get a sweat up?

I see all those young activists working hard for the party and I shake my head. I suppose I was one of them once, although it seems so long ago. The young people are so motivated and eager to get things done. ‘Do’ is the first part of ‘done,’ one activist, a bright eyed young thing, told me yesterday. It’s also the first word in ‘do absolutely nothing,’ I replied. I’m not proud that I made her cry, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Now I was going to spend the rest of my speech talking about the upcoming budget, but I can’t really be bothered. What’s the point? Why don’t we just spend the rest of this session resting on our laurels?