Written By: - Date published: 11:58 am, October 1st, 2017 - 132 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, election 2017, labour, Media, national, nz first, paula bennett, Politics, spin, Steven Joyce, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, winston peters, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
This weekend we have had the full court press as the Herald threw article after article at the preposterous notion that Winston may go into coalition with Labour.
First to address what is their primary claim, that the largest party has first claim to forming a Government. The largest party has no expectation of anything, all it has is a starting point where it is closer to 61 votes in Parliament than anyone else, no more, no less. After that the rules of arithmetic kick in although you can bet that if National do not form the next Government then its sense of self entitlement and its indignation at having power taken away from it will be on display big time.
This election is especially difficult for National because apart from puppet party ACT it has no mates. None. Clearly the strategy was to burn everyone off, get New Zealand First under 5% and then have a majority. It nearly worked. But the people have spoken and National needs to make deals and compromise, something it has been very bad at doing previously unless the compromise was opinion poll and focus group mandated.
But this did not stop the Herald collectively claiming before the negotiations had started that they should be finished and the reigns of power handed back to National.
First up was John Armstrong. He said this:
The feeling that the monarch-maker is the one who will end up being the monarch is accentuated by the sudden deference displayed by the two major parties towards Peters.
After months of intimating that accommodating the veteran politician was about as inviting as cohabiting with Attila the Hun, Labour and National have been auditioning as doormats who could not welcome Peters across their respective thresholds fast enough.
The level of obsequiousness to which those two parties are capable of sinking was amply demonstrated by English’s labelling Peters a “maverick”.
This is a complete rewrite of history. Labour relationships with New Zealand First have been constructive for a long time. Both parties realise that there is considerable agreement about a number of policy areas.
But this claim about the parties being doormats? Well it is true at least as far as National is concerned. Since the election:
And how has Labour resembled a doormat? Umm? Apart from treating New Zealand First with respect for the past decade nothing. Before a negotiating position is advanced Labour is accused of being a doormat. I mean WTF?
National’s dramatic action is required because it has to repair relationships with New Zealand First fast if it wants to remain in power. The dirty politics it has been engaged in this year which include the attempted hit on Peters over his Superannuation overpayment is but the latest of nine years worth of attacks it has put Peters through.
Armstrong thinks that Peters’ main goal will be to ensure that New Zealand First survives Government and claims that going with National will achieve this. He forgets that Peters spent the campaign advocating for change. Backing National will betray most of his supporters as the polls show. And it did not work out well in 1996 when in very similar circumstances New Zealand First did exactly that.
John Roughan wrote an article with a similar view. It contained this rather unusual passage about the prospect of a Labour-Green-New Zealand First government:
A coalition of losers is a definite possibility, especially if special votes reduce National to a two point margin over the combined tally of Labour and the Greens. Mr 7 per cent (probably, after the specials) is planning to sit like King Solomon and invite bribes from both sides.
He and leaders of other losing parties are trying to convince us this is perfectly legitimate under MMP. Professors of politics explain that under proportional representation we get to elect a parliament not a government. Professors of politics need to think more carefully.
Elections for most people are not just a debate, they don’t vote for academic interest, a parliament of neatly proportionate views is not the point of the exercise for them. They think they are electing a government and that matters to them very much.
But again this ignores the nature of MMP. If this formula was to be applied then the grouping (left or right) with the weakest support parties would always win. Having diverse parties is somehow a weakness with this sort of logic.
And this morning there was this tragic attempt by Heather du Plessis-Allan. Right from the start she gets things wrong.
There’s something unseemly about the current coalition flirting. The way the two major parties fawn over Winston Peters. The way the two deputies act like martyrs by giving up jobs that would be taken off them anyway. The way the leaders almost salivate at the thought of power.
Note to Heather the only person who will be giving up their job is Paula Bennett who last time I checked is the current Deputy Prime Minister. And can she point out where Labour is fawning over Peters? As I noted before National is the only party knifing its own members to clear out those most upsetting to Peters.
She then offers this really passive aggressive “advice” to Jacinda. According to her Peters will dominate the media and the Greens are a shambles and at the same time will force Labour to tack left. Of course National faces the same problem about Peters dominating the media and its one remaining support party ACT is a complete and utter shambles so her concern rings a little hollow.
She then talks about how previous Labour Governments only survived for one term, neatly ignoring that the more recent Clark Government lasted three terms and the Lange Government lasted two.
And she notes that we have never had a MMP Government run by a party that gained the most votes and “who knows what happens next”. Maybe they have a vote or something and see who gets the most votes in Parliament.
Her advice have some merit in a political game playing sense. But there are hundreds of thousands of kids living in poverty and our environment is being wrecked. Waiting for our turn means that nothing apart from PR will be done about these problems.
To be fair to the Herald there is this much more nuanced effort by Audrey Young. She describes in some detail what happened in 1996 and leaves open the possibilities of what may happen in the near future.
But the tone of the other articles, that it is all over and we should just hand power back to National, is concerning in the extreme.