Home > The Body Politic > John Key: Man of Many Principles

John Key: Man of Many Principles



In case anyone has been holidaying on Planet Key lately, and missed the latest shenanigans from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive,  John Key has apparently  abandoned his earlier principles rejecting  possible coalition deals with Winston Peters. He  has found new principles of  “wait and see”.

In 2008 and 2011, Dear Leader Key was fairly adamant and all but promised to poke himself in both eyes with red-hot pokers, rather than go into any coalition with Peters,








But this blogpost is not about Key’s ‘principles’ which, as we all know by now, are so bendy-twisty ‘flexible’ as to be positively plasticine.  When Key assures us that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, we still want to see it for ourselves. Just to make sure.

Indeed, another blogger – NZ Pundit – scarily predicted back  in August 2008  that Key’s “read-my-lips’ rejection of Winston Peters, as a possible coalition partner, was little more than a “hollow promise“, and would change overnight if National found itself desperate for a coalition partner.

See: NZ Pundit – Key’s Hollow Promise On Winston

Fast forward to 2012 – National finds itself desperate for a coalition partner.

With ACT now a Dead-Party-Walking after one scandal too many and Peter Dunne effectively a One-Man-Party, that leaves the Nats with two options;

  • The Maori Party. Does National really want to be beholden to a Maori nationalist party? Even if it is a paler-version of Hone Harawira’s Mana Party? Will the Maori Party make it back in 2014 anyway?
  • The Conservative Party. Notwithstanding it’s quasi-religious flakiness, Colin Craig has managed to alienate about 60% of the population (women and gays) plus probably everyone else with two interconnected braincells. Even if National drops the MMP Party threshold from 5% to 4%, there is no likelihood Craig will increase his electoral support.

In reality, with John Key showing the amorality of a  political  serial-adulterer, he will take whatever option is on offer. Whether his coalition bedmate is  the Maori Party  or CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party) or a menage a trois of both, concerns him nought.

As long as he can cross that magic 61 or 62 seat majority (depending on over-hangs) is his sole concern.

To achieve that end, National’s back-room strategists have been working over-time and have fixed their laser-sights on Winston Peter’s New Zealand First.

Said strategists have taken a single  approach to dealing with NZ First – with two planned outcomes.

In both scenarios, National makes overtures to NZ First and make it clear to the voting public that this time, Key will not resile from a  National-NZ First Coalition . Key will make the age of super entitlement and promise of abandonment of asset sales two prime factors that Peters will  find hard to reject. ( Peters is not as hard-line in his opposition to asset sales as he makes out.  See “Peters switch on Asset Sales“)

A third common ground between the Nats and NZ First;  if water rights is still a burning political  issue, this will move NZ First to the right, into National’s camp, as both parties have stated positions firmly rejecting Maori aspirations on this issue.

1. Yay

First scenario; Despite been seen as “cosying up” to National, NZ First retains electoral support, and makes it over the 4%/5% threshold. With Peter Dunne, John Key leads a third term of a National-led coalition government.

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

2. Nay

Second scenario;  As National electoral support drops and public hostility to John Key increases, any perceived “cosying up” between the Nats and NZ First is viewed with displeasure by Peters’ supporters.

NZ First’s supporters – traditionally seen as the “grumpy vote” – either do not bother to cast a vote on Election Day (as many of Labour’s supporters stayed away last November), or cast their vote for the Conservative Party or possibly  Labour.

NZ First fails to cross the 4%/5% threshold, and loses their seats in Parliament. In effect, National has been toxic to NZ First. Why would voters support NZ First if appears they will  be getting a National-led government? Those who vote NZ First traditionally do so as a protest vote against the incumbent government (whether Labour-led or National-led).

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

Both scenarios are a No Lose situation for National. Except that in Option #2, any perception of a “cosying up” by National to NZ First may mean the “kiss of electoral defeat” (again) for Peters. If National’s support drops further in the polls; if Key’s status of Preferred Prime Minister  wanes; and if the Nats are seen as ineffectual in a stagnating economy – does Peters want to be “tarred by association” by a Party on the way out?

Many New Zealanders – especially those in the late 30s and older – will remember the events of December 1996.

Many voters viewed NZ First’s decision to coalesce with Bolger’s National Party as an electoral betrayal – especially when Peters had made several Key-like statements during the 1996 election campaign. These statements were  unequivocal in denouncing National as a a potential coalition partner, and sent a clear message to the voting public,


Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?

Winston Peters: Oh no we are not. – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996


There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First. – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996


Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?

… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance  [so] that they are now arguing for stability. – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996


The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition. – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996


It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12…  Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats. – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996


The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling  behaviour. We are not into State treachery. – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996


We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people. – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996


We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences. – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996


Despite Peters’ assurances,  on  11 December 1996  the public woke up to this announcement,


Front page, Otago Daily Times, 11 December 1996


The following three years were harsh for NZ First, culminating in it’s tearing apart in late 1998.The party split in two, with the ‘rump’ NZ First, and breakaway ‘Mauri Pacific‘, led by Tau Henare (now a National MP).

NZ First was nearly annihilated in the following year’s General Election, with Peters barely retaining his seat of Tauranga,

1996 – NZ First Party Vote: 276,603 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 18,997 (source)

1999 – NZ First Party Vote: 87,926 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 63 (source)

The message from voters was crystal clear for Peters; supporting an incumbent Party to retain power was a ‘no-go’ . People voted for NZ First to get rid of the incumbent government – not prop it up.

Cosying up with the Nats will not serve Peter’s  interests one iota. It will remind the electorate of the events of the late 1990s, and will harm popular support for NZ First.

Peters should consider; as opposition to National grows, why would people who oppose National vote for a small Party that may end up propping it up? The answer is; people will not vote for such a small Party.

This should serve as a warning to Peters and his Party: coalesce with National at your peril. History can repeat.


Peters ‘sorry’ about coalition – NZPA – 14 September 1998




Previous Related Blogposts

Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties


Otago Daily Times – NZ First leads in ‘most loathed’ poll  (8 October 1999)

Dominion Post – Key rules Peters out of National’s future (27 August 2008)

Sean Plunket – PM should ponder the Orwellian switch to the farmhouse (22 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Duncan Garner: John Key refuses to rule out Winston Peters (24 Sept  2012)

TV3 – Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Video:  Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)



= fs =

  1. Rural Wife
    28 September 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been thinking about giving my vote to NZ First at the next election but this gives me a few things to consider first. If there’s any chance of Peters going with National then I’ll just vote Labour and be done with it.

  2. James D
    28 September 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Frank, your blogging is awesome. I’ve read a couple and skimmed a few when I’ve had time, great stuff. I’d be interested in your summarised opinion of Winston? Would you care to briefly share?

    • Budinski
      28 September 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Likewise Frank, great work buddy.

  3. 28 September 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I remember Peters’ treachery in 1996. That was the first and only time I ever voted for him. Never again. Well done for taking time to remind us of his slippery nature.

  4. Denny Weisz
    28 September 2012 at 1:23 pm

    We should start calling him St. Schultz … I know Naahthing! But The Pie Murderer Brownlee owns that one so I’ll just stick with PinoKeyo.

    • 28 September 2012 at 1:51 pm

      I think Dear Leader has a nice ring to it… 😉

  5. 28 September 2012 at 1:37 pm

    “Key’s ‘principles’ which, as we all know by now, are so bendy-twisty ‘flexible’ as to be positively plasticine. ” Lmao!! Sounds like a line for a new song from Kim Dotcom.

    • 28 September 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Heh heh heh… he’s most welcome to use it, Scintilla. A donation to Women’s Refuge or Kidscan will suffice as payment… 😀

  6. 28 September 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I bet he doesn’t walk across the road anymore, just like Helen Clark wouldn’t either…he showed up in my town this morning, I just had to stop by and wish him well

    • Ralph
      29 September 2012 at 11:03 am

      Good on you Laura!

      • 29 September 2012 at 12:21 pm

        Agreed, Ralph – Laura demonstrates the Power of One beautifully!!

  7. Shane Hayes
    28 September 2012 at 4:01 pm

    CCCP, lol

  8. Deborah Kean
    28 September 2012 at 6:23 pm

    That (Key talking about going wth Peters) was predicted just days before this announcement, by a coilleague.

  9. Jasper
    29 September 2012 at 7:42 am

    Sooo PinoKeyo. When is the Free Market going to kick in? Just wondering about the better brighter fucha’s arrival?? 2025, 2032 maybe?

  10. FT
    29 September 2012 at 10:08 am

    A most excellent blog.

    • Alison W
      29 September 2012 at 10:39 am

      That it is, Frank Macskasy’s articles are always well researched and supported with evidence, which pretty much makes any right winger who tries to refute what he says, look like the ignorant, selfish people that they are. 🙂

  11. 29 September 2012 at 12:30 pm

    thanks guys, I couldn’t let the chance go by. I got served a trespass notice for my trouble, which the policeman and I both laughed about especially given that I hadn’t set foot on school grounds. He never signed the notice and neither did I.

    • 29 September 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Sounds like a cop who understands what’s going on around him. Good on him.

  12. Kari
    29 September 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Politicians talking political double talk, nothing new about that.

  13. 26 June 2013 at 6:26 pm

    If Winston supports National’s GCSB Bill, NZ First will be toast…

  14. 26 June 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Key will be looking for an excuse for an early election this year – he needs a reason. What will it be customers?

  1. 3 June 2013 at 12:07 am
  2. 3 June 2013 at 12:09 am
  3. 3 June 2013 at 12:13 am
  4. 4 June 2013 at 12:10 am
  5. 7 July 2016 at 1:00 pm
  6. 12 July 2016 at 8:01 am
  7. 25 September 2017 at 8:51 am
  8. 30 September 2017 at 8:01 am

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