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.