One of the defining moments in John Key’s rise to popularity as opposition leader was when he made a deal with Helen Clark to support the Bradford smacking amendment. Key ‘rescued’ Clark, much to the outrage of National Party partisans, but he also transformed himself from an opposition leader to a potential Prime Minister. The public isn’t really interested in politicians yelling nonsense at each other. They like people who can get things done, and Key did something.
I’ve been a bit mystified as to why Andrew Little didn’t exploit Key’s weakness over the flag referendum to emulate his old trick. And now the Greens have done it. People are saying that they’ve played into Key’s hands, and so on, just as some in National said of Key’s deal with Clark. But if Key was such a ten-dimensional chess grand-master he wouldn’t have botched his precious legacy project so badly it needed the Greens to save it. The Greens ‘did’ something, which is hard to do in opposition and some persuadable voters will give them points for it.