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Written By: - Date published: 8:00 pm, February 2nd, 2011 - 44 comments
Categories: election 2011, john key, nz first - Tags: ,

So John Key has flip flopped and decided to rule out working with Winston Peters again. He’s trying to portray that as a principled decision, about running an “aspirational” government.

“Nothing has changed since 2008. My reasons for ruling him out then still stand.”

“He’s about yesterday – I’m about tomorrow.”

Here’s the thing about principles. Principles are a firm foundation and a constant guide. You don’t need to spend months working out if your principles are the same as they were three years ago. Which is what Key has done. Because just last August he was singing a different tune:

Key hints at NZ First deal if Peters stands

Prime Minister John Key yesterday indicated National might consider working with NZ First should leader Winston Peters make good on his pledge to stand at the next election.

or here:

Key does not rule out working with NZ First

Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out working with New Zealand First in the future. The latest Roy Morgan poll put NZ First at 4.5 percent, almost enough to get the party back into Parliament without any electorate seats. … Mr Key said today he would decide whether he would work with NZ First leader Winston Peters when he announced whether he was running or not.

So yes Key has decided, and stated his position clearly. But let’s not pretend it’s a principled decision. It’s a political decision. Key thinks he can squeeze a little more milage out of flogging the dead horse that is Winston Peters. He may be right, he may be wrong. But he isn’t principled.

44 comments on “Principles”

  1. grumpy 1

    One thing the recent survey of Maori voters shows…..if Labour/Greens/NZFirst and Maori Party can form a government, then Winnie is odds on favourite to be PM.

    More popular as PM than Goff and Sharples ….. heh

  2. burt 2


    How do you feel about the prospect of another Labour-led govt being held to ransom by a proven liar.

  3. Alwyn 3

    John Key said in 2008 that he would not accept support from Winston Peters.
    John Key says in 2011 that he will not acccept support from Winston Peters.
    Can you please explain how it is a “flip-flop” for John Key to say that nothing has changed and that he can still not work with Winston Peters.

  4. Shazzadude 4

    He’s gone from no in 2008 to maybe in 2010 to no in 2011. So he’s flip-flopped on that basis.

    • higherstandard 4.1

      Nah he never said maybe, anyhoos his announcement regarding Winston has less to do with principles than it has to do with strategy.

      • pollywog 4.1.1

        i’d rather not see Uncle Winnie anywhere near the big house again either. He had his day in the sun and he fucked it up…

        …best thing Goff could do is say he wouldn’t work with him either.

        Match ‘smile ‘n wave’s’ strategy and leave Winston out in the cold so that anyone who votes for him knows it’ll be a wasted vote…

        • Lanthanide

          Yip, ’cause having a hung parliament because no one wants to work with the kingmaker is the best thing for our country.

          • higherstandard

            Probably better than being held to ransom by a twat who might get 5-6% of the vote at most.

            Might be a brilliant play leading into a referendum on MMP.

            • QoT

              I have said it once and I will say it as many times as it takes, no 5-6% party can “hold the country to ransom”.

              Because Labour and National could always just put on their big-boy pants and agree to work out a set of shared principles to avoid either having to acquiesce to extremist left/right/conservative/liberal policies.

              The fact this will never happen because they’re too busy engaging in “neener neener you’re a diddle!” slap-fighting notwithstanding.

              • Lanthanide

                I don’t think they’ll ever formally enter into a grand coalition. But there’s nothing stopping them from using votes outside the coalition to pass laws as required: see the anti-smacking law that Labour passed that required National to vote for it.

                captcha: recently

              • higherstandard

                QOT are you forgetting the way he carried on in the mid nineties ?

                Yes you’re quite right with your last para.

                • QoT

                  I just don’t see how it’s relevant to the continuing ridiculous “waaaa MMP is bad because the major parties choose to give concessions to minor parties instead of acting like grown-ups” meme.

                • Colonial Viper

                  QOT are you forgetting the way he carried on in the mid nineties

                  Will be especially interesting if the old dog has some new tricks to show the circus masters. 15 years on Winnie might still surprise.

            • Lanthanide

              The referendum is held at the same time as the election, so the outcome of the election won’t impact on the outcome of the referendum.

              Now the second referendum, maybe, but I believe if MMP is chosen in the 1st referendum, the second one will be about making alterations to it, rather than ditching it. I think MMP will probably survive this first referendum.

              • It is, of course, possible that John Key may be ‘ambitious for himself’ in wanting to become the first (and perhaps only) PM to win over 50% of the vote for his party in an MMP election (he’s an ‘achiever’ and achievers like measurable and obvious success). Given he has supposedly ruled out NZF (with the wiggle room caveats already noted) and, supposedly, will be putting up a (serious?) candidate in Epsom this would be a remarkably bold gamble for glory – short of an unforeseen surge in support for Peter Dunne or a stunning improvement in the MP’s party vote.

                It does, however, provide leverage on two fronts.

                1. Presumably, if National slipped below 50% in the polls in the run up to the election the spectre of NZF being in government could be hammered as a leverage to try to get National back up over the line, as would the claim that the party with the highest party vote ‘deserves’ to be in government (and yet ‘we’ – National – won’t go with NZF).

                Imagine pre-election polls like National 44%, Labour 36%, Greens 8% NZF 7% and other parties fighting over the remainder (though with the MP overhang plus Peter Dunne). National could rhetorically lever that in numerous ways and some NZF voters could be scared back to National if there was the prospect of the MP holding the balance of power (especially if Hone was looking strong within the MP).

                2. But there’s another factor, as has been mentioned. The referendum over MMP could become interesting if in the lead up to the election the polls looked like I’ve suggested. NZers could then be ‘warned’ that MMP might lead to some ‘unfair’ result. The ‘evidence’ would be before their eyes (Here’s ‘principled’ National, the party with the largest vote, being denied the government benches because it won’t co-habit with a scoundrel – the line is easy to guess, MMP is a breeding ground for scoundrels). By burning his coalition bridges, Key could be manufacturing an argument against MMP while still having post-election options

                The voters then walk into the polling booth … having to put three ticks in boxes.

                anti-spam: losing (that’s the problem with tea-leaves – you never quite know what they mean, or for whom they mean it).

    • Bazar 4.2

      Thats not flip-flopping.
      Hes never changed his stance. He considered changing it, but never ultimatly changed it.

      Honestly i don’t see how thats a bad thing. Someone who is unable to review their decisions, when circumstances have changed is stubbon. And thats not a quality i like in people.

      Changing his stance on election cycles is also pretty fair. I can understand flip-flopping on an stance they took to the elections mid-way (like GST). But this is neither.

      Its the same as selling state assets. They haven’t sold state assets in this election term, they might next, but that type of flip-flop is 100% fine by me.

      I’ll get to judge their new stance with my vote.

      • r0b 4.2.1

        He ruled it out. He didn’t rule it out. Now he rules it out again. Flippity flippity flop.

      • orange whip? 4.2.2

        Honestly i don’t see how thats a bad thing. Someone who is unable to review their decisions, when circumstances have changed is stubbon.

        Yeah? What changed?

  5. BLiP 5

    Heh!! What’s Bomber’s catch cry about John Key? Something like:

    John Key, a man of principles, and, if you don’t like these ones, he’s got others

  6. sean14 6

    It’s a political decision.

    The paragons of virtue on the left would never make a political decision. How icky.

  7. ak 7

    I think it’s very simple akshilly r0b: sour grapes. A pre-emptive swat to maximise profit from the inevitable. Grinny’s finally accepted what has been as obvious to Joyce, his handlers and the emotionally whole as the emphatic beak on his slimy date since late 2007: that not everybody loves him.

    More particulary, he’s accepted that Winnie was never, ever, going to get into bed with him – which is why the media goons were sent in to pack-grape the Winster in 2008, thereby denying the few thousand votes that would have delivered a Labour-led guvvy.

    And the Slipper’s also realised, that after that particular near-fatal brush with the same Big Money cabal he had wounded so deeply over many years, Winnie’s sole motivation this time was utu. And still is.

    And the goons are running Grinny’s campaign this time: more blatantly, more forcefully, than last time. Which heralds its own Nicey/Nasty contradictions. Winnie is marked. Again. But loved.

    Witness tonight’s One news: Grinny of Principle being Nice. Too nice; so edit to Guyon Goon for the shiv: “So a vote for Winston Peters is a vote for Phil Goff as PM?” (NB and re-view, any hapless naif who still clings to the fantasy of an “independent” nz media).

    Key will be remembered as an unwitting pawn for Maori progression. Divide and conquer is now confined to bennies, and there’s a big bash just round the corner.

    This election hangs on how Nice Cop handles the pressure. Entrails to date: it’s telling.

    • Yes ak key’s and whatisfaces line that a “vote for Winston Peters and NZ First would be a vote for a Labour-led government” is telling I think. It’s indeed a preemptive strike designed to throw off goff – how many times are we going to be hearing it – a lot I bet.Thje goffice better have their lines sorted because the ‘leaving it all up to after the election’ may not cut it, even if reasonable and true. But didn’t I read somewhere the other day that goff has said he won’t work with Hone? Maybe if Hone was leading an alternative maori party he may change his mind.

  8. But let’s not pretend it’s a principled decision. It’s a political decision.

    If I get to sleep with Angelina Jolie tonight I won’t be worried about the fact it’s undoubtedly sympathy sex (or she’s doing it for a bet), I’ll be focused on the joyous bloody outcome.

    • ak 8.1

      ….and be as deep and meaningful to Ange as the Keyster is to godzone via the identical activity…fizzpop is an ancient word that springs to mind, pints the ever-appropriate captcha…kia ora Rex

  9. QoT 9

    “He’s about yesterday – I’m about tomorrow.”

    Right, so we can totally rest assured that his entire front bench will never ever again answer a question in the House by saying “Well given that shortly after humans discovered fire Phil Goff said …”


  10. tsmithfield 10

    Rob, I think you need to read your own links again.

    All he said on those links was that he hadn’t decided at that stage whether he would be able to work with Peters. Now he has made a decision. No flip-flop at all.

    I agree that it may well be a calculated decision rather than a principled one. However, I think many will see it as a principled decision which is all that matters. If I was in Key’s shoes I would do exactly the same thing.

    • ak 10.1

      I think many will see it as a principled decision which is all that matters.

      Ah. Ta, smithy, almost had you all wrong there for a sec.

  11. The Voice of Reason 11

    “He’s about yesterday – I’m about tomorrow.”

    Bugger tomorrow, you lazy git. Try focussing on how bad things are today and do something about it, fer chrissakes.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      “the economy will recover reasonably aggressively – tomorrow”

      Tip to the wise: tomorrow never comes!

  12. Nick C 12

    The question you arent asking is: Is it good in principle to rule out a proven racist, self serving, liar from your government?

    If so, is Phil Goff prepared to do the same?

    • gobsmacked 12.1

      Nick C

      If Key (or Goff, or Clark, or Bolger, etc) had ruled out Peters because of his divisive demagoguery on race, I’d applaud them.

      But that’s not why Key has done it. Does the name “Paul Henry” ring a bell? When has Key ever stood up against racism?

    • orange whip? 12.2


      So it was a matter of principle in 2008, but six months ago it wasn’t, and now it is again.


      • Nick C 12.2.1

        Oh come on now you are just being stupid

        99% of things politicians do are about staying in power. But thats the point of the democratic system: They have to do good things to stay in power because doing good things wins them votes. I’m not denying that there is a massive element of strategy to this.

        I dont see any posts here going: “Phil Goff has no principles. He only supports a tax free threshold in order to win votes! He didnt support it 12 months ago!” Yet thats exactly why he has done it.

        But asking about the motivation is only one question. The other question you have to ask is ‘regardless of motivation, is this a good decision for the country?’ I think ruling Winston out is great. Do you?

        • orange whip?

          The position you’re attempting to take requires you to believe these two things simultaneously:

          1) That Winston was and is so corrupt and racist that Key shouldn’t ever deal with him, and

          2) That it was reasonable for Key to consider dealing with him 6 months ago

          I think ruling Winston out is great. Do you?

          Irrelevant, but given the choice between having Key as a major part of a govt and having Winston as a minor part of a govt, I’d take Winston.

          Mind you I’m only basing that on their actual records in govt so it’s a wee bit realistic, sorry.

  13. ianmac 13

    I have already written about this idea but it should have been here.
    Key has said that Peters was a non-starter for a Key Government because PMs have had to sack him all the time. (Paraphrased.) How often has a PM sacked him? I know he refused to back the sale(?) of Wellington Airport which caused the collapse of the Shipley (?) Government but fired by successive PMs? (And blocking an Asset Sale might be now seen as a good thing.)
    I have never voted for NZF but am concerned about another mis-statement from our PM.

  14. Brokenback 14

    To describe Winston Peters as a ” Dead Horse” displays a degree of political naivety that will come back tohaunt Rob and many other of his dismissors.

    I’ve never been an NZF devotee , but always a Winston admirer.

    Clark & co were guilty of labeling him a racist in an attempt to limit his occupancy of the middle ground.
    Had they in fact supported him there would be no Nact pack rapists running amok.

    Similarly if Anderton had supported the green and left within the Alliance instead of pulling the rug from beneath the growing foundations , we would have a persistent ,healthy centre left government with workable coalition partners to the left & right.

    Goff & King played a central role in the 2005 coalition agreement that included bottom feeders like Peter Dunne and destroyed working class & maori supportfor Labor .

    If the pinkish participants of this forum have any aspirations to making the current pimps & thieves a 1 term government , they not only have to believe NZF & Winston Peters have an important part to play , they also have to get of their arses and and actively support them where it is strategically necessary.

  15. Treetop 15

    Key’s ego is so big. The election is the biggest game he will ever play. Does Key actually think that he will not require a coalition partner? Key is showing no loyalty to Hyde or Dunn as he will stand a Nat candidate in their seats. Watch for the sour grapes from Hyde and Dunn. Key is probably hoping the Maori party implodes.

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