- Date published:
7:05 am, February 21st, 2017 - 71 comments
Categories: bill english - Tags: belief, bill english, dirty deals, Maori seats, vernon small, winning is everything, winston peters
I’m having trouble getting a handle on Bill English. On paper he should be more principled than Key, but in practice he seems to be just as morally “flexible”. He’s a Catholic who has changed his mind on marriage equality and attended (but did not speak at) the Big Gay Out. He’s a “compassionate conservative” who has presided over increases in poverty and homelessness, while describing young Kiwi workers as “pretty damned hopeless”. A “fiscal conservative” who has run up record-breaking government debt. An “honest bloke” who bent the rules to screw every last cent out of Parliamentary perks. Mmmmm.
Vernon Small seems to be wrestling with the same ambiguities in this interesting piece:
English punts talk of electoral deals, Maori seat strategy, into the stands
Faced with queries about the impact of the Maori-Mana non-aggression pact, announced on Monday, he punted them all into the distant future. Would National continue its long-standing policy of not fielding candidates in the Maori seats? “There is likely to be some discussion about that. We haven’t come to a conclusion but we didn’t stand last time.”
(Yes folks it’s true, National does repeated “dirty deals” in the Maori seats – does Patrick Gower know about this scandal???)
Well then, what about abolishing the Maori seats? Hmm. If it was “on the books” it was not a policy National was pursuing and he would need to check. (Yes the policy is still on the books, prime minister, but pursuing it would likely end the Maori Party’s support.) It all sounded as clear as mud and as weak as dishwater compared to John Key’s unequivocal answer before the 2014 election. … It would be a mistake to assume there is a change of policy in the wind on either score. More likely it is English’s instinctive default to caution.
At what point does caution become paralysis? And speaking of election deals, what about Winston?
Interestingly while Labour’s Andrew Little has reserved finance for Grant Robertson, English would not rule out Peters even in that role.
English won’t share the PM role, but anything else goes! How very “flexible”.
So, silly to ask if Mana leader Hone Harawira would have a place in his Government if the Mana-Maori Party deal delivered him the Te Tai Tokerau seat? You guessed it, English wouldn’t want to speculate on that, and it was not clear if the deal would make any difference … but it was (drum roll) “unlikely”.
Flexible even enough for Hone Harawira! (It would almost be worth it, just to watch certain commentators explode.)
So back to my titular question, what if anything does Bill English believe in? I guess we have to take him at his word, a blast from 2008:
English suggesting that winning is everything despite National’s highly principled statements – he suggests you target a few and do what you need to in order to win. “Winning is everything my man,” he said in the tape.
And there we have it.
PS – Unlike certain commentators Small can add – here’s a final quote from the piece:
… Sunday’s One News-Colmar Brunton poll sent a reminder to National – if one was needed – how tight the race is despite National’s strong polling … Even on 46 per cent, and with three or even four viable allies, there was still a majority out against the current Government. Together Labour, Green and NZ First totalled 52 per cent support. And they will all be in the next Parliament. …