I have some sympathy for Dr PIta Sharples over the fallout of Mr Key’s promises. He’s clearly been left high and dry by Mr Key, his would-be coalition partner. According to the Maori Party’s chief of staff we now find:
…that Mr Key was clear in the meeting that National’s position could be put on the backburner. Mr Walker and National’s deputy leader Bill English were both present in the meeting
If you missed it when the issue was raised on the leaders debate here’s the footage:
Mr Key has denied it before, after Dr Sharples first made the claim in a Sky TV leaders’ interview 11 days ago. No wonder Mr English has gone to ground! His boss’s predilection for telling people what they want to hear is becoming something of an ongoing issue (is that what English meant when he talked of Mr Key bouncing from cloud to cloud?)
Now I’ve just caught up with Mr Key on Sunrise – still not saying why he thinks Pita Sharples is wrong:
Oliver Driver: But I’m not, I’m not actually asking you if there was a formal agreement with, ah, with Mr Sharples, I asked Mr Sharples if he was wrong during an Alt TV minor leaders’ debate last night, and he once again said that, ah, you did make that assurance privately. Why, why [sic] would he be lying about this.
John Key: Yeah well I think it’s interpretation of where you’re at, I, there’s no formal agreement, so I don’t know how that would work, if you going to say the 2008 to 2011 period, ah, the Maori seats won’t be abolished under National in that period of time. Now yes, if we have a deal with the Maori Party after the election, we’re going to go in there in good faith, we’ll negotiate across a range of issues….
So if you’ve had a conversation but not formally signed something you can’t count on him not to change his mind?
[Update: Sharples on Maori TV explains what Key promised him]