If the latest Roy Morgan poll is to be believed, John Key’s big gamble of ruling Winston Peters out of any future coalition may well turn out to be one of the stupidest plays in New Zealand’s political history.
According to the poll, NZ First has increased its hypothetical share of the vote to 5%, and while Labour are down and National are up it’s far less of a swing than expected given the recent negative media coverage over Owen Glenn and the Privileges Committee.
For Labour, Winston’s presence provides an insurance plan. If he gets in there’s another three years of mild centre-left government; if he doesn’t then a genuine Left government incorporating the Greens and the Maori Party is that much easier to form.
For National, on the other hand, a NZ First presence in the next parliament now almost certainly means three more years in the wilderness. In one reckless spin of the dice, John Key may well have handed Labour its historic fourth term and assured the end of his own political career.