The Dim-Post

June 7, 2016

Why mathematics itself will prevent Winston Peters from becoming Prime Minister

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:49 pm

Matthew Hooton articulates his theory yet again on Nine to Noon today. It goes like this:

  • After the election Winston Peters will hold the balance of power.
  • He can then say to both National and Labour ‘whoever makes me Prime Minister gets to be in government.’
  • National refuses (why?) But Labour accepts.
  • And it doesn’t matter that Labour leader Andrew Little has ruled this outcome out, because the decision – Hooton reckons – could be made by Grant Robertson, in exchange for being Foreign Minister, and on the Green’s side, by Metiria Turei and James Shaw in exchange for Ministerial portfolios.
  • So a vote for Labour is clearly a vote for Winston Peters as Prime Minister!

The problem with all of this takes us back to the oldest rule of democratic politics. Learn to count. Let’s say that New Zealand First has ten MPs. Plus Grant, Meyt and James, who are supposedly backing this deal in exchange for senior portfolios. That’s thirteen. They still need 48 MPs in Labour and the Greens to support the arrangement and form a government. And the majority of those MPs, in exchange for ditching the Labour leader and putting a guy they mostly really don’t like from another party in charge of their government, which is likely to be very unstable and very unpopular and lead to an extended term in opposition or, possibly, electoral annihilation, will get nothing. There simply aren’t enough baubles to hand out to make the deal palatable to everyone.

We think of parties as blocs of votes because under normal conditions MPs will always give support to their own party to form a government. But there’s no way you’d get the whole of the Labour caucus to back this. And I’m pretty confident the same is true of National. ‘You want us to ditch John Key and Bill English and put Peters in charge of the country so that Joyce can be Finance Minister?’ Why would they say yes to that?

No one who knows anything about politics believes this could work. And Hooton knows a lot about politics. It’s a line, manufactured to create fear about the potential dire consequences of voting Labour, without any relationship to political reality. It’s stupid.

63 Comments »

  1. Why do you assume National wouldn’t say yes?

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 7, 2016 @ 5:57 pm

  2. Didn’t you read the article Matthew?

    Comment by Adrian — June 7, 2016 @ 6:06 pm

  3. Why do you assume National wouldn’t say yes?

    The same reason Labour/Green wouldn’t say yes… It would be FUCKING MENTAL.

    Comment by Phil — June 7, 2016 @ 6:12 pm

  4. It would definitely be mental Phil, but so are many things that happen.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 7, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

  5. Coincidentally, this is a theory that apparently is proposed seriously by only Matthew Hooton and David Farrar … and no-one else. Oh, Tracy Watkins got a cheap “what if” column out of it in the weekend, but she just has column inches to fill.

    So – what do Hoots and DPF have in common? Cui bono? And there’s your answer to how seriously this “hypothesis” (which apparently is immune to any and all evidence, such as Andrew Little saying it is false) ought to be taken.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 7, 2016 @ 6:47 pm

  6. Under Cunliffe this scenario would have been extremely plausible (aside from getting more than 25% to make it happen). Andrew Little may not be a success, but he is not a sociopath and detested by his own caucus more than leaders of other parties.

    Comment by Mike — June 7, 2016 @ 6:59 pm

  7. You’re a Labour MP and it is a choice of Winston Peters for PM or a 4th term for John Key. Not so sure they’d say no to their only chance to stop John Key retiring undefeated for a 4th term.

    My wish is that if NZ First does hold the balance of power, National refuses to do a deal with him, and let a Labour-NZF Goverment be formed. Better to be in opposition for one term than three terms. But sadly few MPs vote for honourable opposition.

    Comment by David Farrar — June 7, 2016 @ 7:26 pm

  8. @DPF: Surely the whole “few MPs vote for honourable opposition” logic applies to National MPs too?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 7, 2016 @ 7:36 pm

  9. @OS,

    That’s what he meant – that there will be a National-NZ First arrangement post-2017, but he is unhappy that this is so. Unless, of course, he really means that National MPs are somehow purer and more principled than not-National Party MPs. Which he can’t, given National MPs’ acceptance of interest free student loans, WFF, no nuclear ship visits and continued existence of the Maori seats (etc, etc) as the price of power.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 7, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

  10. Also note – the voices saying “Labour will accept Peters as PM to get power!” are … Matthew Hooton and David Farrar. While the actual leader of the party concerned (Labour) has categorically ruled it out. No “maybe”, no “we’ll see”. Just a flat “it won’t happen”.

    So, y’know, this “theory” is clearly a distraction technique designed to stop people talking about something that might hurt National (like Labour and the Greens working collaboratively) by getting them talking about something that helps National (like Winston Peters governing the country at the head of a three-way arrangement in which his party is a minor player). The fact the theory makes no sense, would be unworkable in practice and that they don’t actually believe in it themselves is irrelevant … as long as others discuss it. But grown adults should be able to see what is going on for what it is.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 7, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

  11. Think about this: In order for Winston to become PM of a Labour-led government, the liberal, Pacific, and Maori sections of the Labour caucus would need to agree to it – because the right of the Labour caucus is small and dwindling. The idea that Robertson, Ardern, Sio, Salesa, Mahuta, and Henare, as examples, would all support that option is absolutely insane, not to mention Little, Twyford, Faafoi, Hipkins, and Woods.

    I know that Hooton and DPF are very smart men, which is why I thoroughly agree with Danyl’s last paragraph and his conclusion.

    It is much, much more likely National-NZF government. The idea that Key would turn down a fourth term as PM also seems unlikely, which is probably why the shills are taking the line they are – they know that at some point, as the polls narrow, people will start talking about how National needs Winston and the price he will exact from them.

    It would be a much more useful question to ask Key if he’d go with Winston, considering that Dunne is rumoured to be retiring, ACT is a zombie party that is polling lower than the defunct Conservatives, and that the Maori Party will be lucky not to be a one-seat over-hanger.

    Comment by RHT — June 7, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

  12. You’re a Labour MP and it is a choice of Winston Peters for PM or a 4th term for John Key. Not so sure they’d say no to their only chance to stop John Key retiring undefeated for a 4th term.

    It wouldn’t be a fourth term for Key thought, would it? Because under this theory he’d be stepping down to let Peters run the country. If the entire National caucus agreed to that, which they almost certainly would not do.

    Comment by danylmc — June 7, 2016 @ 8:20 pm

  13. DPF specifically has been banging the “LABOUR = WINSTON” drum since before smartphones were a thing.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 7, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

  14. A quick refresher course in history: Hooton and Farrar were among those saying “No Winston, no way”, back in 2008 and 2011. They said it before Key in 2008, and with him in 2011 (he wasn’t in parliament from 2008-11, so it wasn’t a tough call).

    Once Winston got back in 2011, National ( = Key, Hooton, Farrar) realized that definitive line was no longer a goer. It was one thing to be “principled” (which was naturally how it was sold) when the principles had little cost. But by 2014 Winston was rehabilitated. Winston hadn’t changed, only the numbers had. Therefore the Key/Hooton/Farrar principles conveniently changed too.

    You can take your pick: the facts of history, or the fiction of spin.

    (Matthew and David are welcome to dispute these undisputed facts, we’ve all got Google).

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 7, 2016 @ 10:19 pm

  15. This kind of disinformation thrives in an environment of uncertainty. Labour-Greens should announce their own leadership team (PM, DPM and Finance) rather than letting DPF and Hooton do it for them.

    National has similar weaknesses, in that Key hasn’t said how long he’s sticking around, and it’s not 100% clear what National’s current stance on NZ First is.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 7, 2016 @ 11:19 pm

  16. DPF did mention that he’d prefer if Key didn’t leave the door open to working with Winston in 2014, but I think he gave it literally a single line in a general post about possible coalitions, despite dedicating probably upwards of 3000+ words to the effect of “Labour must disavow Winston or be forever condemned by all right thinking New Zealanders” in 2011.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 8, 2016 @ 12:22 am

  17. Winston won’t be offered the top job but if he’s in a king maker position he’s going to want quite a bit to buy his support.

    He’s going to want to hit immigrant groups. I can’t see either National or Labour have shown they wouldn’t be prepared to go along with that.

    That’s a far greater concern than Hooten’s mischief making.

    Comment by NeilM — June 8, 2016 @ 3:37 am

  18. I think National won’t vote for Opposition and do a deal with Peters. However they won’t agree to Peters as PM. Not when their leader is four times more popular than Peters, unlike Little who is at half Peters popularity in Preferred PM.

    As National can give Peters more of what he wants (as they can form a two party coalition) they won’t need to offer PM. Labour will as it is only thing that would make up for Greens being needed to govern, and hence less power for Peters.

    If positions were reversed my argument would be the same. Not that National MPs are unwilling to sell out, just that a party on 45% is in a very different position to one on say 23%.

    Comment by David Farrar — June 8, 2016 @ 5:31 am

  19. @DPF

    How about Deputy? Wayne Mapp seemed to be saying Natl would offer Deputy.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 5:49 am

  20. Not that National MPs are unwilling to sell out, just that a party on 45% is in a very different position to one on say 23%.

    My point is that the party on 23% is less likely to be able to pull this off, because you don’t just need the senior MPs to agree to it in exchange for senior portfolios – you need EVERY MP to agree to it, most of who get nothing, otherwise you can’t form a government. So why would David Cunliffe, for example, agree to this?

    Comment by danylmc — June 8, 2016 @ 6:07 am

  21. Not so sure they’d say no to their only chance to stop John Key retiring undefeated for a 4th term.

    Key Beatification Syndrome strikes again.

    Comment by Ross — June 8, 2016 @ 6:56 am

  22. Let’s not forget that Peters is 71 and in the twilight of his career. Retirement may not be far off.

    Comment by Ross — June 8, 2016 @ 7:02 am

  23. @Antoine,

    This kind of disinformation thrives in an environment of uncertainty. Labour-Greens should announce their own leadership team (PM, DPM and Finance) rather than letting DPF and Hooton do it for them.

    Problem with that claim being that, even when Labour does make a clear, unequivocal statement about “leadership” (unequivocally saying Winston Peters will not be PM), Hooton and Farrar just say it’ll happen anyway. So if the aim is to stop them making shit up, it appears literally nothing will work.

    @DPF,

    Not that National MPs are unwilling to sell out, just that a party on 45% is in a very different position to one on say 23%.

    But this isn’t the proper comparison, is it? Even given your wildly optimistic figures, it’s “a party on 45%” against “one on say 23%” plus the Greens on say 10%. And as Danyl says, every single parliamentary member of both these parties will have to agree to live with this unprecedented, basically unworkable in practice suggestion. And then the Greens membership will have to vote to ratify it.

    So, sorry … but if “Winston as PM” is all that you think stands between you and the specter of a NZ First-National Government, best get ready to eat a very large dose of humble pie. Because, remember back when you wrote stuff like this:

    “Yay, yay, yay. It is indeed preferable to go into Opposition than try to run a Government with Winston in it. Key has explicitly said that if Winston holds the balance of power, then Phil Goff will be Prime Minister.”

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/02/key_rules_out_winston_again.html

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 8, 2016 @ 7:14 am

  24. Ross, yes, I think his advanced age makes it easier for Nats or Lab to sell it as it can be seen as a short-term retirement job.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 8, 2016 @ 7:23 am

  25. @AG

    (Genuine curiosity) When did Labour make this statement?

    A.

    PS My suggestion of announcing a leadership team is genuine, not some kind of malicious reverse psychology thing, I honestly think it would be the best thing to do

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 7:49 am

  26. (Genuine curiosity) When did Labour make this statement?

    Morning report yesterday. I may paraphrase slightly, but gist is accurate.

    Guyon Espiner: There’s been some speculation about sharing the PM’s role with Winston Peters for a parliamentary term. Can you rule this out?

    Andrew Little: Yes.

    Of course, that just shifted Hooton to saying that either (i) Little is lying in his unequivocal statement, or (ii) post-election Grant Robertson would knife Little and do the deal with Peters, or (iii) whatever else keeps the Hypothesis alive. So it really is no-win with these people.

    My suggestion of announcing a leadership team is genuine, not some kind of malicious reverse psychology thing, I honestly think it would be the best thing to do

    I accept that. I just don’t think it will have the effect you claim (stopping Hooton and Farrar being what they are). Also, I don’t think Labour and the Greens really are there yet. To take the hackneyed romance cliche, they are on early dates, so trying to work out who will wash the dishes and change the nappies in their future family is overly ambitious (and the arguments likely would wreck any chance of the relationship developing).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 8, 2016 @ 8:03 am

  27. For goodness sake Andrew. No one is saying that Andrew Little is lying or anything like that. It is simply that this is Peters’ last chance to be PM, that he plans to seek that job temporarily and one side may see this as being in their interests (or their fears may drive them there). Read what I first wrote about this in April 2015: that discussed how it would work with Peters leading a National dominated government. Your over the top, definitive declaration it could never happen is nothing more than you saying you don’t like it so it could never happen. Learn some political theory and some game theory and you’ll see it is perfectly plausible under certain conditions which may well emerge.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 8, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  28. Peters might be putting it out there that he wants to be PM – I have no idea – but the whole thing seems so obviously unworkable – for reasons I’ve just described, and which no one has refuted – that it could really only be an opening bid. ‘All right, I’ll settle for Treasurer and then Governor General.’

    Comment by danylmc — June 8, 2016 @ 8:36 am

  29. @AG

    I don’t think silencing the critics is an objective. I think it’s good to counter disinformation with true information. Little’s announcement seems like a good step in that regard.

    > I don’t think Labour and the Greens really are there yet

    Clearly there’s some kind of decision process that needs to be gone through, I’m not suggesting making a half-baked announcement. My point is that Labour (in consultation with anyone necessary) should get on with that process. Would have been preferable if they’d done it 3 years ago.

    A response could be “of course they’re working on it now” – I’m not aware of evidence of this – but hope it is correct.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 8:47 am

  30. Media oxygen is a limited resource, and the time Labour’s denying that it will make Peters PM is time that it’s not attacking the government. If DPF, Hooton and all the lesser DPFs and Hootons can shift the conversation, even only partly, to “What would Labour do with Peters in 2017” instead of “What is National doing with the economy right now” it’s only to their advantage, regardless of what position Little takes. This is why, for all their calls that they want the issue settled or addressed comprehensively, no answer or statement will ever meet their ever-shifting criteria.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 8, 2016 @ 8:52 am

  31. Danyl: He has certainly been putting it out there through intermediaries (or, it has been happening in a Kershawian “working towards the Fuhrer” way). But he also did so personally when he mused about George Forbes on The Nation, which led to John Key rubbishing the idea of Peters being PM.

    Antoine/Ortvin: I think Ortvin is right in a sense that there is nothing Labour can say or do to stop this being an issue (except get their party and leaders’ poll numbers up to a respectable level, and NZ First and Peters’ down). Just as with Key’s comments last year that I reference above, no statement a politician makes on this topic should be taken seriously. That is not to say they are lying. If you asked Bolger in 1995 if Peters would be his Treasurer or Clark in 2004 if he would be her Foreign Minister they would have “absolutely, categorically, totally” ruled it out. And they wouldn’t have been lying. Similarly, when an employer says publicly the pay rise can be no more than 1%, and privately they will not go higher than 2%, and the union says publicly it can’t be less than 5% and privately they will not go below 4%, they aren’t lying, even if they settle at 3%. Just as people aren’t lying when they head off the the rugby saying they’ll have no more than 2 beers. But these things take on a life of their own. And, IF (still a big if), NZ First gets in the 15-20% range and Peters for PM about the same, and Labour gets the low 20s and Little 5% preferred PM, then why can’t be again have a PM from the smaller party in a coalition, like Forbes was?

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 8, 2016 @ 9:06 am

  32. “there is nothing Labour can say or do to stop this being an issue ”

    looks awfully like a statement of intent

    Comment by framu — June 8, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  33. ” it is perfectly plausible under certain conditions which may well emerge.”

    This is about the most weasel way one can make a claim and still have it actually be a claim. By these criteria, monkeys might fly out my butt, if Labour doesn’t get its polling numbers up.

    Still, the problem isn’t Matthew. The problem is the people booking him in places where one would normally expect serious commentary.

    Comment by Stephen J — June 8, 2016 @ 10:02 am

  34. Worth noting, as we gauge Hooton’s credibility on this topic, that on 9-to-noon yesterday he was confidently predicting the Labour-Green MOU would “fail” as it would not cause either NZ First or National voters to switch their support to Labour. Then this poll came out: https://twitter.com/toby_etc/status/740065253468164096

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 8, 2016 @ 10:11 am

  35. @AG

    I note there was a net shift from the Labour – Green – NZ1st bloc to the National – ACT bloc, but (a) not enough information to know if this shift is statistically significant, (b) it’s just one poll, and (c) it’s early days yet.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 10:18 am

  36. Ungh, just noticed DPF made a similar point. Hadn’t read Kiwiblog when I posted the above

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 10:24 am

  37. @A.

    The only statistically significant* results were that after the MOU (i) Support for Labour went up; (ii) Support for NZ First went down; and (iii) Support for the Conservatives went up (wtf?). So, one poll, early days, and not what Hoots told us would happen. That is all.

    * To 95% confidence, of course.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 8, 2016 @ 10:49 am

  38. Fair call.

    Further reaction to that polll… The reduction in the Green vote may not be statistically significant – but I wonder how they will react to apparently losing a quarter of their support overnight.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 8, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  39. @A

    Well, as the Green’s are the party for scientific literacy, I assume that they will understand the concept of statistical significance and not be especially bothered.

    Comment by RJL — June 8, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

  40. Can some one explain to me how if Peters was PM he could stagger out of Chow at 2pm after a lunch of cocktails?

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 8, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  41. Can some one explain to me how if Peters was PM he could stagger out of Chow at 2pm after a lunch of cocktails?

    Gracefully – scotch in one paw, fag in the other – as he decants himself directly into the comforting, leathery womb of a Crown Limo.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 8, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  42. “Well, as the Green’s are the party for scientific literacy”
    Right on, brother (or sister): vegan, homeopathic statistics. And that’s why they understand GMOs, vaccines, economics, fracking and nuclear energy so well…

    http://what-if.xkcd.com/29/

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 8, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

  43. @Gregor I suppose a crown limo on hand would prevent him brawling with taxi drivers.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 8, 2016 @ 4:12 pm

  44. Exactly. Can’t have the Office of PM brought into disrepute now, can we.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 8, 2016 @ 4:49 pm

  45. I think the Peters PM impossible tribe is:

    Underestimating Peters’ negotiating ability – he has been Treasurer and Foreign Minister in governments on either side of the centre line, in which the dominant party prided itself on its economic management and grasp of foreign policy respectively
    Overestimating his interest in policy – somewhere Don Brash recounts his experience after the 1996 coalition deal with National about turning up at the new Treasurer’s office – as all good public servants would – with a number of options about how the Monetary Policy Agreement between the Treasurer and the Governor of the Reserve Bank could accommodate Winston’s stated positions on the campaign trail and NZ First’s election policy. Brash was shocked – shocked! (he is a very Victorian chap) – that Winston had no interest at all in what he was talking about. He will be happy to sell his MPs into serfdom to accommodate Labour if it means he is PM and both he and Labour know from experience the Greens will not bring down a left wing government even if they aren’t in it. He will allow Labour maximum freedom in most of the grunt portfolios as long as his pet interests (funders) receive more money, even to the extent of allowing a Ministry that accommodates most Labour MPs – he knows his own MPs are universally stupid, otherwise why would they be NZ First MPs? (Deputy Leader to be Shane Jones excepted of course)
    Underestimating the motivation of Labour MPs to be in government – if Winston offers them all of the baubles of office and the substance, aside from the PM’s role, for the first 18 months and keeps the Greens on the outer, it will be very. very hard for Labour to resist.
    Overestimating the Machiavellian nature of David Farrar and Matthew Hooton – Quite aside from the political calculations, the dilemmas of Labour, the Greens and to a much lesser extent National re Winston are just so damn funny, something I think they appreciate more than some of the Temperance Union types commenting here.
    Overestimating the vulnerability of a Winston led left wing populist government – If Labour dominate the policy and implementation side of the government the whole thing could – this is a bit of a stretch, I freely admit – be a tidy ship because Winston will preside over rather than manage his own government and he has never micro-managed anything in his life. And National would be a large probably fractious and not necessarily stable opposition. I can see how this scenario could be very appealing to most if not all of the Labour caucus.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 8, 2016 @ 8:50 pm

  46. None of which gets us past the most basic and obvious hurdle of all: a cynical move to make Peters PM – immediately after the election in which the option has been unequivocally ruled out – will make an incoming government untenably unpopular from day one.

    Forget principles: the risk-reward calculation doesn’t come close to a plus.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 8, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

  47. The fact that the only – only – voices saying this scenario is in any way credible are this site’s regular ROC contributors (plus DPF and Hoots dropping by), whilst the LOC contributors are all united in saying “nope – it ain’t ever going to happen” (as, indeed, is the fucking leader of the party that apparently will do the deal) says it all! Seriously, my ROC friends … how do you think this proposal can possibly fly when those who most want to see National gone are saying it’s such a disaster in the making that it can’t even be contemplated? You think in 18 months we’ll all just magically switch around and think the opposite? I mean, it even took DPF an entire parliamentary term to go from “far better opposition than Winston” to “I guess Winston’s not that bad”, and we’re made of far sterner stuff than he!

    So this really is the right’s version of those lefties back in 2013 who claimed that John Key doesn’t have the stomach for another term – he’ll step down soon after the election and let Paula take over. Palpable bullshit, but so, so, so tempting a possibility (and so, so, so useful a distraction line) that the ideologically driven will tie themselves in the most ridiculous knots trying to sell it. Exhibit A – Tinakori’s magisterial effort at 43 above.

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 8, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

  48. @Tinakori: “And National would be a large probably fractious and not necessarily stable opposition.”

    Why do you say this?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 8, 2016 @ 10:18 pm

  49. If, say, the Nats gained by far the largest vote share but the left wing coalition put together a coalition to become the government Key might stay on as leader in anticipation of a relatively fast return to power. They might be unified but inevitably some in the caucus would have said that they should have made a deal with another party – most likely NZ First – to return to office, provide them with Cabinet posts and save the country from ruin under a left wing government led by whomever. And if the new government did not look vulnerable quite quickly Key would be under some genuine pressure for the first time in his career as leader.

    If Key resigned then we would see a fight between prospective leaders that might reveal potential fault lines in National for the first time in more than a decade. My pick is that the contest would be between Bennett and Collins, neither of whom are known for their conciliatory natures. Whoever wins, In their favour is the strong possibility that two left wing reactionaries (albeit from different reactionary traditions) like Winston and Little would struggle against a woman opposition leader.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 9, 2016 @ 9:54 am

  50. “It is simply that this is Peters’ last chance to be PM, that he plans to seek that job temporarily and one side may see this as being in their interests (or their fears may drive them there).” (25 above)

    So hypothetically, a party could decide that it would be worth their while to make Winston Prime Minister for a short time – give him the pleasure of announcing a coalition deal that makes himself Prime Minister, announcing (but not deciding) initial cabinet positions, and then after a few days? – or at least before Parliament sits, he is replaced with Winston deciding that it is all too hard / he has received medical advice etc . . . How long would he need to be PM to have all the benefits of an ex-Prime Minister accrue? I have no idea of course who could be that cynical and contemptuous of the electorate and the political process, but perhaps Matthew Hooten could explain what he meant by “temporary”

    Comment by KP — June 9, 2016 @ 10:32 am

  51. @Tinakori,

    If, say, the Nats gained by far the largest vote share but the left wing coalition put together a coalition to become the government Key might stay on as leader in anticipation of a relatively fast return to power.

    And isn’t that, right there, the best argument for why there won’t be a Labour-NZ First-Greens governing arrangement with Peters as PM?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 9, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  52. Andrew

    Re your comment 48:

    What looks like a good argument here, among us, on a blog, 18 months before the events we are considering, with little stake in the outcome is one thing.

    If you are a politician, after a bruising election campaign and weeks of coalition negotiations, and you have a choice between forming a government the following day (as was the case for Bolger with the Treasurer decision), defeating your hated enemies and (in this case) becoming prime minister in a little over a year, you may view the situation a little more emotionally and desperately and reach a different conclusion.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 9, 2016 @ 10:52 am

  53. @MH,

    Of course, on that claim – “conditions post-2017 election will be so different to today that we can’t predict what will happen using current modes of analysis” – there is literally no point to any present speculation. It’s like trying to apply current laws of physics to what happened 10 to the -32 second following the Big Bang. Which means, of course, the whispers you allegedly are getting from “Peters’ Associates” are just as useless – for who knows if they actually reflect what he’ll do in these “very different circumstances”? In which case, the basis for your claim that a Peters PM’ship is possible is just as invalid as my claim that it can’t and won’t be accepted. In which case, all this typing has been for naught.

    Which, when you think about it, would make a pretty good slogan for a Dimpost T-Shirt.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 9, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

  54. Quite possibly. But I think we can agree that the Labour and Green parties will not go into the next election promising to abolish titular honours.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — June 9, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

  55. Why can’t you get over it Hooton? – the ‘us’ you refer to won’t be spun – or have you started to believe your own bullshit?

    Comment by rodaigh — June 9, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

  56. But I think we can agree that the Labour and Green parties will not go into the next election promising to abolish titular honours.

    More than happy to end this discussion on a note of agreement!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 9, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

  57. I think a few posters are extending this discussion because they hope the competition will match Clinton/Trump and Johnson/Corbyn in shear amusement value, but they can’t bring themselves to admit their frivolous nature.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 9, 2016 @ 1:37 pm

  58. Hooten seems to be past his best-before date. People who are hard conservatives appear to have enough trouble thinking anyway…….but the issues for Hooten seem to be becoming……worrisome? Is he OK?

    Comment by truthseekernz — June 9, 2016 @ 4:53 pm

  59. “And isn’t that, right there, the best argument for why there won’t be a Labour-NZ First-Greens governing arrangement with Peters as PM?”

    Well, I’m sure Labour and the Greens will be receiving that advice from all and sundry at the the time as they did in 96 and 2005 when they did their dance with the Devil. There’s a big chunk of politics that doesn’t have a lot to do with what’s rational or what looks obvious 18 months before.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 9, 2016 @ 7:35 pm

  60. ” How long would he need to be PM to have all the benefits of an ex-Prime Minister accrue? ”

    There’s no time limit. Mike Moore was Prime Minister for less than two months, and is still treated as one. If the scenario being described here (unlikely as it is) occurs, and Winston was formally sworn in as PM by the Governor General, he’d be considered a former Prime Minister for his whole life.

    @Tinakori: I think in the scenario you describe – again, unlikely as it is – National would be animated by righteous anger, which would unify them, much as they were in 2005 after the “stolen election”. I think you’re just trying to downplay how good this scenario would be for the Tories in order to sell it to this particular audience, which isn’t very Tory-friendly.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 9, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

  61. @Ortvin Sarapuu ” and Winston was formally sworn in as PM by the Governor General, he’d be considered a former Prime Minister for his whole life.”

    Only if he relinquished the office. He could just turn out to be PM / God-Emperor for life instead (or indeed “for ever”).

    Comment by RJL — June 10, 2016 @ 9:52 am

  62. @RJL: Yes, well, I was engaging with the scenario as presented.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 10, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

  63. Danyl, the flaw in your reasoning lies in presuming Labour MPs will rebel if their leader agrees to Peters becoming PM. How often are party whips seen to allow such behaviour? Around 2% swing away from the Nats, with Ohariu & Ak Central going to Labour, makes the scenario feasible. If NZF & Greens pick up a seat each & the Maori Party drops one, Key has 59 seats, so he can’t form a government without Peters. If Peters insists on a term as PM as his condition of joining the government, I bet the Nats will reject him.

    You also seem to be assuming the deals made will not be supported by Labour dissidents because they will see it as intolerable. Maybe so, if Peters is granted a 3-year term as PM by the Opposition. Maybe not, if the deal is a genuine power-sharing agreement in the national interest, with a rotating PM to prove it. Faced with the only alternative – a 4th term of JK as PM – do you really believe they would choose it in preference to collaboration?

    Three-legged stools were common when I was a kid but they’ve gone out of fashion. You don’t fall off when you sit on one. Easy to demolish the credibility of any media hack who claims that a three-party government is inherently unstable, just grab one from a second-hand furniture shop, take it along to the press conference, wave it at them when you get the question & dare them to come and sit on it to prove the point. Political theatre hasn’t gone out of fashion!

    Comment by Dennis Frank — June 19, 2016 @ 8:01 pm


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