Some of the media reckon that Key slagging off the Waitangi Tribunal was an accident of honesty: he was just stating reality that the Tribunal’s findings aren’t binding, he didn’t realise it would provoke a firestorm of reaction. Others say he knew exactly what he was doing and provoked the firestorm to try to split the opposition to asset sales along racial lines.
Me, I don’t believe Key is dumb enough for the first option to be credible. And, if he hadn’t meant to provoke a conflict, he would have modified his language by now. He hasn’t.
In his round of soft interviews at the start of the week, particularly after a slow week, Key has the chance to frame debate. He regularly uses it. He comes out with pre-prepared lines, which he repeats verbatim across the interviews. That’s what he did this week. His spin team had worked out the line with an objective in mind. That objective was to wedge Pakeha and Maori opponents of asset sales.