Home > The Body Politic > Spitting the Dummy, John Key Style

Spitting the Dummy, John Key Style

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Key - Peters' dislike of me impedes deal

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When it  comes to sheer, naked audacity – John Key has it by the Kenworth truck-load.  And just it appears that Dear Leader has reached stratosopheric heights of effrontery – he goes one better.

A few days ago, Dear Leader lamented the very real possibility Winston Peters would choose to coalesce with Labour, rather than National, at the next election.

If anything, this was worthy of a good, hearty  laugh!

To understand why, we must cast our minds back to 2008, and the donations scandal that enveloped Winston Peters when he denied knowledge of a $100,000 secret donation from billionaire, Owen Glenn,

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Phone records contradict Peters

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During this affair, John Key had plenty to say about Winston Peters,

National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.

“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.

“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.

“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.

“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.

“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.

“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.

“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”.

See: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

In early 2011, Key was still adamant that he would not countenance working with Peters in any future coalition government,

“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead,” he said at a press conference today.

“Historically, he has always been sacked by prime ministers. It’s a very different style to mine and it’s rearward-looking.

“I’m about tomorrow, I’m not about yesterday.”

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“If Winston Peters holds the balance of power it will be a Phil Goff-led Labour government,” Mr Key said.

See: Election date set; Peters ruled out

And just prior to last year’s electons, Key had this to say about Winston Peters, all but accusing the NZ First leader of being an unreliable, destructive political force in Parliament,

Prime Minister John Key warned voters yesterday that a new government after Saturday’s election could be brought down on any issue by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters unless National won enough votes for “strong, stable, dependable leadership”.

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Said Mr Key: “What Winston Peters is saying to New Zealanders is that on every Budget, on every issue, there could be a general election. How could New Zealand govern itself over the next three years, which is likely to be a volatile period in the world economy, when at any stage the whole Government can be brought down by Winston Peters?”

See: John Key’s new target: Winston

I think it’s fairly clear that up until recently, Key had ruled out working with Peters. He was unequivocal in his condemnation and distrust of Peters.

There now appears to have been some kind of quantum-shift in John Key’s approach to Peters,

“I think that the argument that he really really dislikes the Greens, let’s put it politely, that’s all true . . . but he’s not overly enamoured with me,” Mr Key said.

He and Mr Peters had chatted during a trip to Samoa as part of a New Zealand delegation.

“I had a brief chat to him but realistically I think he will go with Labour . . . Even if we were prepared to change, and that would be a big if, he was always going with Labour . . . in 2008,” he said. “I think it’s just personal.”

See: Key: Peters’ dislike of me impedes deal

“…but he’s not overly enamoured with me,” says Dear Leader?!?! No sh*t, Sherlock! When did that *news flash* come to Key’s attention?!

Let me state at the outright; John Key’s questioning  of Winston Peters’ behaviour in 2008 was perfectly justified. In a functioning multi-party democracy, we rely on opposition Parties to keep governments honest.

Without an active, critical Opposition, we end up like Zimbabwe or a One Party state like Nth Korea. Without an Opposition there simply would be no democratic system in this country.

So whilst it may have been irksome for Labour supporters and the Left, in general, to have a coalition partner under a spotlight for alleged corrupt practices (undeclared donations) – John Key was doing the job that the taxpayer was paying him for.

But whilst condemning Peters in 2008 and the following three years – by flirting with Peters as a potential coalition partner, we see a further measure of the man that John Key is.

In 2008, Key considered Peters “unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga“.

Since no such “credible explanation” was ever forthcoming – what has changed?

In 2008 and 2011, Key tried to destroy NZ First to deny Labour a potential coalition partner.

Now, with National fast running out of coalition partners (except for the one-clown bands known as ACT and United Future); with the Maori Party’s continuing survival no means a certainty; and the Conservative Party at 1% or less in the polls – the answer is prosaic; National is desperate for a Coalition partner.

Unfortunately for Key, his utterances stand in the collective consciousness of other political parties; the media, and the blogosphere.

Courting NZ First in such a very public way, and voicing indignation  at being rebuffed, will simply make Key look very foolish indeed. It will be yet another indication to the voting public that Key’s word cannot be taken at face value.

On it’s own, it would mean nothing of significance to the public and media.

But Key has back-tracked on so many policies, promises, and pledges that this will be another nail in his political coffin.

He may have started out as an “ordinary bloke” and non-political politician – but that has gradually changed. With his point-of-difference gradually eroded, what makes him any different to any other politician?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

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Previous relared blogosts

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

Sources

NZ Herald: Pressure mounts on Peters as Key all but shuts door  (27 Aug 2008)

Scoop:  Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government   (27 Aug 2008)

TV3: Owen Glenn piles the pressure on Winston Peters over donation (9 Sept 2008)

NZ Herald:  Phone records contradict Peters (10 Sept 2008)

NZ Herald:  Timeline: The NZ First donations saga (23 Sept 2008)

Other blogs

The Pundit: The art of not predicting politics

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  1. 13 December 2012 at 7:18 am

    However, if Key is planning to leave then he is positioning the party to work with National on the basis that it was only a personal clash and not a party one…

    • 13 December 2012 at 4:54 pm

      I think that’s a strong possibility, Glenn…

  2. Paul C
    13 December 2012 at 10:37 am

    Don’t know if you have noticed Frank Macskasy but John Armstrong of the NZHerald has been busy trying to match-make Key with Peters all week. The laughable part about this government and it’s media lap-dogs, is that they genuinely believe no-one can notice how desperate and conniving they appear to anyone with half a brain cell.

  3. QF
    13 December 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Quite honestly Frank, considering the history of Winston Peters, a man who in 1996, assured voters he would not go into coalition with National and then did, I feel that John Key might feel some safety in assuming that Peter’s will back him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_First#1996_general_election

    Personally, I trust Peter’s as far as I could throw a 20 storey tower block. Labour, the Greens and Mana need to win a majority. Placing Peters in such a situation is akin to allowing Dracula the right to undertake blood transfusions.

    • Jenny
      13 December 2012 at 9:00 am

      It was Tau Henare that said it. WP never said he would or wouldn’t. He maintains that stance with Labour and National each election because voters speak first.

  4. CJF
    13 December 2012 at 9:44 pm

    @ Jenny Bloxham, yeah, right! You were in the caucus when NZ First chose to coalesce with National in 1996. Peters is an Old Nat, we know that.

  5. Jenny
    15 December 2012 at 6:53 pm

    CJF :

    @ Jenny Bloxham, yeah, right! You were in the caucus when NZ First chose to coalesce with National in 1996. Peters is an Old Nat, we know that.

    So I should know then, shouldn’t I? If you really want to know who scuttled the coalition with Labour, it was Jim Anderton.

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