‘No ifs, no buts, no maybes’ – that’s the phrase Bill English chose to use when denying he had any intentions of launching a coup against John Key after the election. It’s a phrase that is burned indelibly into many New Zealander’s memories, not least of all English’s; a phrase heavy with connotations of deceit.
See, â€˜no ifs, no buts, no maybes’ was the phrase Jim Bolger used before the 1990 election when promising to abolish the hated superannuation surcharge. Only months after the election, not only did National renege on that promise, it passed legislation that cut super and benefits. The phrase â€˜no ifs, no buts, no maybes’ became synonymous with broken promises and betrayal. One of the MPs on the select committee that heard submissions on that legislation was a rookie backbencher called Bill English who supported the cuts but apperantly did not enjoy hearing beneficiaries and superannuitants begging for their incomes. The phrase sums up an unpleasent time for English and the first time he was part of breaking a promise as an MP.
So, what was Bill English really saying when he chose to promise fealty to John Key with â€˜no ifs, no buts, no maybes’, a phrase he associates with betrayal? And who is he speaking to?