Some of the silliest speculation

The secrecy in government forming talks seems to have been very effective – political journalists seem to have had few if any leaks to work with. This seems to have frustrated them big time, they don’t like being excluded from the gaming.

So all they have had to write about who is arriving at and leaving meetings, the lack of progress, and speculation.

The speculation covers things like possible governing arrangements – Winston Peters has claimed their are nine possibilities, with no indication which may be preferred or more likely – and also possible policy agreements and ministerial positions.

Trying to second guess Peters is a mugs game. There are indications he doesn’t know things himself, given his time line assurances that have proven quite inaccurate.

After yesterday’s NZ First board meetings and then ‘secret’ meetings between Peters and Bill English, and separately with Jacinda Ardern, gave up nothing of substance some the speculation seemed to get sillier.

Audrey Young: Winston’s two offers: Why it could get personal

Which ever party leads the Government, New Zealand First could expect an unsolicited electoral arrangement in 2020 to assist the party’s survival in Northland or Whangarei – which would never be spoken of.

It would simply be in both parties’ interests.

Tracy Watkins: Coalition talks gather pace with secret meetings

With the policy discussions out of the way, those talks are likely to centre on ministerial portfolios, the structure of the next government – are the Greens in or out for instance – and assurances about 2020.

In National’s case that would likely require cast iron assurances that it will not try to kill NZ First off again – as it very nearly did this time round, when it ran its “cut out the middle man” campaign.

Future assurances might include an acknowledgement that NZ First is first cab off the rank in any future coalition deals – maybe even back channel commitments about an Epsom-style deal in Northland.

I think it would be utterly ridiculous to try to get commitments on the next election campaign, let alone coalition negotiation terms in future terms.

Many things could happen in the next two and a half years that could change things. One likely possibility is that Peters won’t stand again, so any assurances to him would be worthless.

Promising not to compete in a future election would be preposterous and an insult to democracy.

If either National or Labour formed a government now based in part in promises about not competing or assisting in the next campaign, and this government fell apart (and Peters has history on not lasting out a term in coalition) any governing party that was then seen to do a deal with NZ First in advance of the next election would be at high risk of being punished severely by voters.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and Greens turned out to be ill advised and fell to pieces after competing power plays leadership changes. And it doesn’t seem to have done the Greens much good, appearing to have been shunted to the sidelines by Peters, aided and abetted by Labour.

Assurances by Peters have proven to be unreliable – except that one thing he has staunchly stuck to is not indicating any preference for any other party in election campaigns.

For him to make an agreement to cosy up to one or the other of Labour or National in the next election seems as likely as him campaigning in shorts and t-shirt.

In the absence of actual news speculation is bound to fill the vacuum, but it seems to be getting sillier as the limbo period continues.

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17 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  October 18, 2017

    Absolutely. Say no more.

  2. Blazer

     /  October 18, 2017

    if National don’t get the Treasury benches,expect them and their…’friends’ to try everything to destabilise the Govt and force an early election.

    • Kind of like Labour have been trying to destabilise the Government for the last 9 years? Oppositions often express an interest in early elections.

      Like Little calls for early election…

    • Gezza

       /  October 18, 2017

      In the time-honoured tradition of all Opposition Parties, you mean?

    • High Flying Duck

       /  October 18, 2017

      My god Blazer – are you suggesting National would act like an opposition if they don’t get into Government? – do you have a secret inside source for this monumental scoop?

      • Blazer

         /  October 18, 2017

        I thought a sledgehammer might be necessary…this morning..,)

  3. Ray

     /  October 18, 2017

    And now Natradio are suggesting ( speculating) that Winston is asking for an electorate seat at the next election
    WTF
    I thought we lived in a democratic country, not one where rotten boroughs could be handed out like sweeties.
    This has gone beyond silly.
    Time for the journalists to step away from their typewriters, computers and take a long weekend.

    • duperez

       /  October 18, 2017

      Winston asking for an electorate seat at the next election? Who the hell does he think he is?
      🙃

    • Blazer

       /  October 18, 2017

      never heard of ACT and Epsom…then…Ray.

      • duperez

         /  October 18, 2017

        I didn’t put the answer, ‘David Seymour’, the mere proximity on the page was too much for me!

        • Blazer

           /  October 18, 2017

          you can’t be subtle with the Rays of the..world…their world is black and blue,I mean black and…white.

  4. duperez

     /  October 18, 2017

    “Preposterous and an insult to democracy”? One man’s preposterous and insult to democracy is another man’s normal modus operandi and great opportunity.

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 18, 2017

    When a politician’s self interest is at stake, no speculation is too silly. However, attempting to forecast Winston’s political position in three year’s time or tomorrow certainly is.

    • Gezza

       /  October 18, 2017

      It’s tough enough forecasting what it is when he’s addressing a hui in the morning and the Rest Home residents at the RSA in the afternoon.

      • Gezza

         /  October 18, 2017

        Just thinking about his gong. Possibly be a Knight Companion of the disOrder of New Zealand, do you think, Sir Alan?
        Sir Gerald.