Small on how it went down and Nats’ bidding war myth

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, October 21st, 2017 - 25 comments
Categories: election 2017 - Tags: , , , ,

Vernon Small has the best account of the events of “D-Day”:

The longest day of a very long campaign – 17 hours that decided the new government

Labour knew they were still in the game because the to-ing and fro-ing, and the requests for clarifications, kept up a steady pace.

But on Bill English’s side the contact drifted away as early as lunchtime. Silence was not golden. Up at Paula Bennett’s office what turned into a consolation party – silly hats and all – kicked off about 5pm, two hours before the official announcement, and ran late into the night.

The strongest sign came mid-afternoon, with an apparent scoop by the National Business Review reporting National had knocked back NZ First requests for even more Cabinet and ministerial posts.

Whether it was right or not, the fact of a leak from the previously tightly held talks was seen as a clear sign all was not well on the National side – and that someone was trying to spin a narrative that Labour was caving in while National stood firm and principled.

Peters – as well as English and Ardern – has since rubbished the claim. It seems the truth was quite the reverse. National had in fact offered five Cabinet posts and two ministers outside Cabinet compared with Labour’s offer of four and three.

What had really been the decisive issue was National’s refusal to bend on key policies – which just fed what was seen as NZ First’s preference for a new government of change rather than supporting a fourth term National administration with some nipping and tucking on economic policy.

It seems National was prepared to offer more “baubles of office” but was not prepared to compromise on key economic policies including monetary policy, and major increase in spending or further curbs on foreign investment. Labour’s policy – by comparison – was already moving in that direction.

Read on for plenty more.

So much for the myth that Nat supporters are trying to pedal – that English lost a baubles bidding war because of his principles (hah!). It was the obvious better policy fit with Labour that won it. Politics working as it is supposed to. Amazing.

25 comments on “Small on how it went down and Nats’ bidding war myth ”

  1. Doogs 1

    The shining light of truth vs. the dark corners of spin. The floodlights are on and the gnawing rats are running in all directions, confused, rudderless, frightened. They thrive on darkness and hate the glorious shine of positive victory.

    Don’t let anyone tell you the Natzis had a majority – they didn’t. 56% of all NZers who voted did not endorse the status quo.

  2. Pat 2

    “So much for the myth that Nat supporters are trying to pedal – that English lost a baubles bidding war because of his principles (hah!). It was the obvious better policy fit with Labour that won it. Politics working as it is supposed to. Amazing.”

    One can predictably take the spin of the previous administration and apply the opposite to reliably arrive at a position amounting to truth…and so it had been for the previous 9 years.

  3. millsy 3

    National wasn’t able to form a government, but Labour could. Simple as that. Standard practice in Europe. All about knowing how to count. English couldn’t get to the magic number.

    I’m just glad that we now have a government for the first time in a long time that wants to build things up, not tear them down.

    We will probably see what National offered Winston in due course. Though, as we saw in 1997-98, National tried more than once to re-write the agreement.

  4. Keepcalmcarryon 4

    The truth is a beautiful thing. English and Joyce disappear into an 11 billion dollar hole never to hold the levers of power again.
    The shrieks of the right are incredible- did they actually think they would hold office forever?
    The dangerous thing is that the right controls the media and continues to peddle lies. Roll on public broadcasting, sue a few nat mouthpieces for defamation and break up the media oligopolies would begin to level the playing field.
    And where is Wayne? Anyone seen Wayne? Did I hear tyres screech?

    • The shrieks of the right are incredible- did they actually think they would hold office forever?

      They certainly tried to get it that way when they tried to get the electoral system changed to Supplementary Member instead of MMP. SM benefits the largest party making it non-proportional and would pretty much have guaranteed National in power for the foreseeable future.

      The dangerous thing is that the right controls the media and continues to peddle lies.

      And we need to do something about that as well – lies need to be prosecuted.

  5. tracey 5

    ” seems National was prepared to offer more “baubles of office” but was not prepared to compromise on key economic policies including monetary policy, and major increase in spending or further curbs on foreign investment. Labour’s policy – by comparison – was already moving in that direction. ”

    We saw the same myth peddled here by tsmithfield and others. Nats and media have long labelled Peters as only interested in baubbles so that is how they played him. Negotiating on the back of a myth was always doomed to fail. Any genuine analysis of NZF prior negotiations and espesh 2005 would reveal this myth.

    • lprent 5.1

      Nats and media have long labelled Peters as only interested in baubbles so that is how they played him. Negotiating on the back of a myth was always doomed to fail.

      I think that is the take-home point of this election campaign. Believing your own myths is just a stupid way to go, and that ‘baubles’ myth was one that was fostered by Kiwiblog after the 2005 election.

      I’ve been to couple of NZF conferences as ‘media’ for this site. The take-home point for me was that it was a real political party.

      There weren’t the people clinging on to the great leader that you expect from a personality cult. There was a lot of work going on between delegates, candidates, and MPs. But the senior statesman of the party was just as happy to be left on his own to eat lunch. And people at conferences respected that.

      Most of the people looked more like they would actively seek responsibility rather than baubles.

      The different situation happened with the media. It was quite amusing looking at the way that Winston deals with media. It is with an air of amused and only slightly veiled contempt for those who ask stupid questions. When there was a real question, it tended to get answered clearly. When it was a “when did you last kill your mother” question, the person tended to get the same kind of question back. Media – such fragile egos.

      I suspect DPF and others in the National/Act party are just projecting themselves rather than trying to understand who they were dealing with.

      • Most of the people looked more like they would actively seek responsibility rather than baubles.

        So, the exact opposite of National who grab all the baubles that they can reach while denying any responsibility.

        I suspect DPF and others in the National/Act party are just projecting themselves rather than trying to understand who they were dealing with.

        I don’t think that they’re capable of understanding anyone else. I’ve never any such capability from them in their repeated attacks upon the poor.

        • tracey

          If Small is correct then the extra offering of cab places over policy concessions must have been both frustrating for Peters but also edifying.

          • Draco T Bastard

            I think National offering more ‘baubles’ over policy would have confirmed to Winston that National just isn’t right for government. That they’re just not mature enough.

      • tracey 5.1.2

        It feels like projection to me too. And also that what starts as a meme to discredit an opponent quickly gets believe when repeatrd often enough.

      • esoteric pineapples 5.1.3

        Yes, no one was really expecting Winston to decide which party to support based on what he thought was best for New Zealand. We had all become too cynical. This is Winston’s finest hour.

  6. EE 6

    Don’t underestimate the Gingernuts and Chocolate Wheatens.

  7. SpaceMonkey 7

    All about policy match = National unable to wind back neoliberalism because they’ve been totally captured by foreign money men.

  8. swordfish 8

    Anthony R0bins

    So much for the myth that Nat supporters are trying to pedal


    Yep – Including Small’s Fairfax stable-mate Tracy Watkins

    Watkins on Front Page Friday Dominion Post

    The price of power. Deputy Prime Minister, four ministers in Cabinet, one more outside Cabinet. And some big policy wins, including immigration. It was a price Jacinda Ardern was prepared to pay, and one that Bill English judged as too high.

    Over the coming days and hours we will find out more about what finally tipped Winston Peters’ hand in Labour’s favour. But for now we know enough. After days of hard-ball negotiation, and talks that Peters dragged out till the 11th hour, Ardern just wanted it more than English.

    • tracey 8.1

      They are still in sporting cliches…. shallow analysis no less.

      ” the All Blacks just wanted it more today” is easier than analysis of technique, skills and strategy. Noting pivotal moments etc…

  9. cleangreen 9

    100% correct Anthony,
    “was not prepared to compromise on key economic policies ”

    We met in tight discussion for 30 minutes with National’s “arch stratagist/policy planner” Steven Joyce about impoving our rail services in HB/Gisborne in Napier March 2011.

    While during the discussion we produced paperwork as everything to prove that spending to improve the services would reap financial rewards & more customers wanting to use rail.

    When we came to the blunt end of the questions back to Joyce like asking “will you help us to improve rail access so more customers will use rail, the question hung there for less than two seconds before Joyce said dismissing it instantly saying bluntly; NO!!!

    This man does not believe in compromise at all, and our committee that day all felt this very sharply.

    Labour will always win, because jacinda said at her first speech in Auckland town hall that Labour party is a party of “inclussion” and said “where everyone will have a voice and be heard”.

    The truth is we now live in a time where everyone is seeking compromise.

    So with National using Steven Joyce was possibly the single reason why Winston felt as we did, that it was useless to try and discuss compromise with National using Joyce.

    Perhaps National should replace using S Joyce in future as he has made his party look bad over several issues recently, most notably the allegation of a $11.7 Billion hole?

    “It seems National was prepared to offer more “baubles of office” but was not prepared to compromise on key economic policies including monetary policy, and major increase in spending or further curbs on foreign investment. Labour’s policy – by comparison – was already moving in that direction.”

    • tracey 9.1

      And Greens and Labour policies had more clear intersections with NZF than Nationals.

      I agree with Lprent, if Greens and NZF didnt exist how many votes would go to Nats versus how many to Lab.

  10. esoteric pineapples 10

    I find it hard to believe that Winston made his decision only shortly before he announced it. His speech was very well thought out. That would have taken an hour or two. Even if/especially if he got someone else to write it.

    • Incognito 10.1

      I’ve heard rumours that there were in fact two speeches and the decision was made on which one was best. This is really how Labour ‘won’ the bidding war 😉

  11. Philg 11

    I’ve heard rumours… Lol. Are you a journalist? How Labour won the bidding war? Winnie wanted a fair and equitable system. Not National.

    • Incognito 11.1

      Did you see the emoticon? The comment was made in jest 😉

      BTW, I’m assuming that this was meant as a reply @ 10.1.

  12. carlite 12

    Interesting how, when the contact with National started to drift off around lunchtime, that’s about the time the dollar also started to descend.

    Except nobody would have known that things were going south for the Nats except for them and NZF.

    A case of the party of business telling their mates to start pulling their NZD positions as a change govt was on the way? Didn’t they also have a currency trader at some point who has form in betting against the country?

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