Nine days ago Christopher Luxon refused to rule out going into coalition with Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church after the next election.
This should have been a really simple response for a politician to make. Like do you approve the mass murder of kittens or the clubbing to death of baby seals? It should have been a simple no. But somehow Christopher Luxon failed to say this.
The calculations that must have gone on in his head would have been along the line of National needs every single vote it can get even from people who have been deluded by the Tamakis and you never know, they may sneak an MP or two. So let’s not rule anything out and hope to at least get their party votes.
Nine days ago instead of saying no way no how he said that it was too early to tell. If somehow “Bishop” Tamaki gets enough support Luxon would be willing to sell his soul to the Bishop for power.
On Wednesday Grant Robertson let National have both barrels in Parliament.
His concluding remarks must have really hit a nerve. From Hansard:
Now, everybody in the House knows that I enjoy taking the mickey out of a National Party leader that makes a colossal cock-up like this, who shows their inexperience. But I actually want to say something serious to Mr Luxon: doing what he has done gives legitimacy to the most extreme views in our community. Doing what Mr Luxon has done gives confidence to those who have threatened and harassed our health care workers, our journalists, many politicians in this House, and citizens around New Zealand. What Mr Luxon has done, by failing to rule out Brian Tamaki, undermines the inclusive and accepting society that I would have hoped he would have been part of.
Now, it’s probably in the Labour Party’s interest for Christopher Luxon to go on deciding that he does not want to rule out Brian Tamaki. I am pleading with Mr Luxon to do the right thing. Do not say to young, gay New Zealanders that they don’t matter. Do not say to the women of New Zealand that they don’t have a place in leadership. Because, Mr Luxon, you will be judged by the company you keep. You have a chance and you have an opportunity to stand up for New Zealanders’ values. Do the right thing, Mr Luxon, rule out working with Brian Tamaki, or else New Zealanders will continue to believe you stand for extremism, you stand for bigotry. Rule out Brian Tamaki.
National’s leader in waiting Nicola Willis showed what she thought by talking about “the rantings of a crazy pastor who no one wants to engage with”.
This must have gone down really badly in focus group land, which has a turn around of no less than seven days because yesterday National’s head of media relations, also known as Mike Hosking, delivered up as gentle and as scripted a response as you can imagine.
From Newstalk ZB:
National will not be going into coalition with Brian Tamaki’s new umbrella party should it need a majority to rule in next year’s general election.
Christopher Luxon this morning unequivocally ruled out engaging with the fledgling Freedoms NZ coalition party that was announced in a mass demonstration on Parliament grounds last week.
He told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that as a new leader in a beltway game of ruling parties in and out he was not going to be presumptuous and talk about coalition arrangements when there was still a lot of work to do in the National Party.
But to rule out any speculation that National would be interested in speaking with the anti-Government faction he ruled a line in the sand.
“What I’ve tried to say consistently is that I’ve got nothing in common with Tamaki. I think they’re crazy, I don’t think they’re serious, I don’t think they’re going to make it and you saw that coalition fall apart if you read between the lines.
“If it helps Mike, I’m very happy to give you a Mike Hosking exclusive that I’ll certainly rule out Tamaki and never work with him.”
It makes you wonder why Luxon had to go away for eight days before stating what should have been obvious. And his acknowledgment that he had tried to say consistently that he has nothing in common with Tamaki but had actually failed to say that he had nothing in common with Tamaki for over a week is really, really weird. I mean it is not hard. Prospective Prime Ministers should be able to communicate clearly.
Nine days ago Luxon said that it was “way too early to talk about [going into coalition with Tamaki’s grouping] or speculate about it”. Now he is saying that he has nothing in common with Tamaki and thinks that Tamaki is crazy and will rule out working with him.
There is wriggle room. What if this grand coalition of weird views gets enough votes to get into Parliament and then as a negotiation point disregard Tamaki as leader and go with Sue Gray instead? Will Luxon negotiate with her?
And Tamaki has announced that he is not going to stand for Parliament. Will National rule out working with the Voices for Freedom/Destiny Church coalition in whatever form it takes? Stand by for the next seven days as further focus groups results are collated.