The Soap Box: Let the battle for Winston begin

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 6 October 2017, 5:53AM
In fairness to Peters though it's not a position that many of us would relish, it's a decision that the country has to live with for the next three years. (Photo \ NZ Herald)
In fairness to Peters though it's not a position that many of us would relish, it's a decision that the country has to live with for the next three years. (Photo \ NZ Herald)

There'll be nothing holy about the coming Sabbath, although Bill English will be saying his prayers and the agnostic Jacinda Ardern will be crossing her fingers.

Sunday will see the start of the serious talks for the highest of political stakes, control of the Treasury benches and the ultimate prize, the job of Prime Minister.

Winston Peters was at pains during the preliminary talks with the National and Labour teams to point out that the decision of who gets to form the Government isn't made by him alone, it's made by his board and his MPs, although in truth what he says his party generally goes.

In fairness to Peters though it's not a position that many of us would relish, it's a decision that the country has to live with for the next three years and it's a position that the New Zealand First leader confided was a dreadful one to be in.

But the voters have dictated that it's his to make even if he laments it's like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and no, Labour's not the devil and National's not at sea. You can't win with the public, you can't win with the media, or what he likes to call the commentariat, and you can't win with people who believe it's still a first past the post environment and bang on day and and day out that he's holding the country to ransom.

So the negotiating teams have had their first public outing and you'd have to say National's again chancing its arm, as it did during the election campaign in a bid to bring down New Zealand First. It's campaign manager Steven Joyce is on board and so too is outgoing Prime Ministerial chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, one of just three in the Government who knew about the over payment of the pension to Peters which was leaked from within National to discredit him.

Also on board is Gerry Brownlee who was described by Michael Cullen before the 2008 election bringing National to power, as the ex-carpenter who erected the scaffold for Peters' public hanging. It was successful, he spent three years in the political wilderness.

Contrast that to Labour's team which includes Cullen, who successfully negotiated with Peters after the 2005 election to keep Helen Clark in power. Although Cullen has had his moments with Peters, once describing him as the blowfly of New Zealand politics for his propensity to wallow in political refuse.

Another on Labour's team is Clark's former chief spindoctor Mike Munro, an ex journalist, a profession which isn't held in high regard by Peters who's described them as smart alec, arrogant, quiche eating, chardonnay drinking, pinky finger, fart blossom snobs.

Let the battle begin.

 

ON AIR: Leighton Smith Show

8:30AM - 12PM