If I were Winston, I'd resist the embrace of both National and Labour

by Bill Ralston / 05 October, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Winston Peters

Winston Peters. Photo/Getty Images

Out on the political dance floor, the major parties are playing an anxious waiting game. 

When I was at school last century, I always loathed the balls and socials. Suffering from acne and a debilitating reticence with girls, I seldom had a partner to take. I usually contented myself with standing alone in the corner of the hall, next to the heavily spiked fruit punch, while trying to get up the courage to ask someone for a dance.

In a modern political sense, David Seymour and Act are like that, except no one will agree to dance with David at the parliamentary ball. I get the feeling that the Greens, Labour’s best friend forever, may once again be left a wallflower as Labour pursues the winsome Winston Peters. I recommend that Greens leader James Shaw starts hitting the punch. Meanwhile, that strumpet Winston, done up to the nines, is walking across the dance floor, haughtily spurning all suitors – at least until the band starts playing the last waltz.

The best thing about the long interregnum between the election and the painfully drawn-out process that will decide which parties form the next government is that very little will happen. The economy, as the heart of the nation, will continue to pump on. Journalists will be forced to write about other things during the lean period when public politicking goes into temporary hibernation.

During this blissful period, most of us will forget there isn’t a government and those who do remember will start wondering why we even need one when life is continuing so peacefully and well.

It always amazes me that minor parties consent to enter government with a larger party. The inevitable result is that they feel voters’ wrath at the next election. Remember what happened to the Alliance, or how New Zealand First was thrown out of Parliament? Or how under the last Government, United Future shrank to the point that its leader resigned before the election? Then there is the sad story of the Maori Party, which is now gone altogether.

If I were Winston, I’d resist the deadly embrace of both National and Labour and head for the cross benches, where he can pick and choose which legislation he wants to support and what favours he wants from the minority government that he gets to pick. With his support, it could be Labour or National.

That would be fun for six months until the big party that had his nod to form a government got fed up and trooped off to the Governor-General to demand a new election. At that point, Winston could flip his vote to the other big party and head off the risk of an election, thereby giving the other guys a run at leading the country with his backing.

The result would be fewer controversial laws going through the House and, aside from legislative lollies thrown to Winston, more frugality with taxpayer dollars. Yes, it’s hardly “strong and stable government”, but the reporters in Parliament’s Press Gallery would have a field day.

The only other option is a grand coalition of National and Labour, which makes absolute sense except for the unfortunate fact that neither wants to share its toys with the other. The two parties represent more than 80% of the vote and, frankly, it’s hard to fit a cigarette paper between their policies, but there just isn’t enough space around the Cabinet table to accommodate their combined egos.

Let us wait, then, for Winston.

This article was first published in the October 7, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


The art and soul of Te Papa
88235 2018-03-17 00:00:00Z Arts

The art and soul of Te Papa

by Sally Blundell

Twenty years ago, Te Papa opened with little space to exhibit its national art collection. Now, it is showing off its new dedicated art space.

Read more
Does chewing more help curb your appetite?
87918 2018-03-17 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Does chewing more help curb your appetite?

by Jennifer Bowden

Our appetite-control hormones are affected by chewing, according to some studies, whereas others show no change.

Read more
How Auckland rapper JessB went from face in the crowd to queen of the stage
88396 2018-03-16 09:42:00Z Music

How Auckland rapper JessB went from face in the cr…

by Vomle Springford

Auckland rapper JessB is making her mark in the male-dominated hip-hop scene with the release of her much-anticipated debut EP Bloom.

Read more
Defence Minister Ron Mark defends his use of military aircraft
88389 2018-03-16 07:02:40Z Politics

Defence Minister Ron Mark defends his use of milit…

by Craig McCulloch

Defence Minister Ron Mark is denying any inappropriate use of military aircraft after revelations he has used them to fly to and from home.

Read more
Corrections moves sex offenders from lodge close to school
88387 2018-03-16 06:55:59Z Crime

Corrections moves sex offenders from lodge close t…

by Eva Corlett and Sally Murphy

Corrections says it will review its processes after it was discovered 11 sex offenders were living less than a kilometre away from an Auckland school.

Read more
Rodney Walshe: One of Ireland's best-known exports to New Zealand
88222 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Rodney Walshe: One of Ireland's best-known exports…

by Clare de Lore

When he arrived here from Ireland in 1960, Rodney Walshe had nothing but a suit and the gift of the gab. They took him a long way.

Read more
Derek Handley talks Trump, business and coming home
88378 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Derek Handley talks Trump, business and coming hom…

by Clare de Lore

The nomadic New Zealander who’s set his sights on space travel is no longer an alien.

Read more
How Lisa Walker went from teenage Wellington punk to celebrated jeweller
88263 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z What's on

How Lisa Walker went from teenage Wellington punk …

by Mike White

The Anarchist jeweller has a remarkable show at new Te Papa gallery, Toi Art.

Read more