Quick observation: Once the Nats lose control of the story they turn nasty. They don’t know what to do so they go on the attack in an attempt to deflect attention and, more importantly, blame. They don’t care who they attack – even the public is fair game. This only serves to feed the negative narrative. It’s dumb politics from the usually shrewd Nats. But I guess when you’ve cruised through the last three years having exerted a fair amount of control over the media and having never encountered sustained pressure from the media and the public you wouldn’t know what to do would you. The Nats seem to be using Helen Clark as a template i.e. get angry and blame someone else or something else. The Nats response to Rena is a failure of political management. The public knows that responsibility falls upon the government, but the government seems unwilling to properly own the problem. Instead choosing to share it with Maritime New Zealand (I make the distinction between Cabinet and MNZ), the shipping company, Iwi (would you believe it) and the Rena’s insurance company. The Nats need to own the problem and counter the perception they’re loose and hands off. It doesn’t matter whether the government is in the wrong or not – either way they will field the blame so they may as well take charge and own the problem.