Cracker by Damian Christie


All In

For the past six months or so, or at least as long as anyone’s been focusing on the General Election, I’ve been saying Labour will form the next Government. So rather than pop up in a month or so and say “see, I told you”, I’ll put all my chips down on Red right now, while the wheel’s still spinning, the ball still bouncing.

The odds aren’t quite as long as they were a few months ago, when reporters were on telly saying “this one’s National’s for the losing”. Even though Labour’s polling hasn’t changed dramatically, its chance of forming the next Government has. Over at the political stock market, the odds have risen from the low to mid thirties through June, July and August, and are currently at 46 percent.

As the polling settles somewhat – and one thing’s for sure, National was never going to get an absolute majority this election, regardless of what the polls said – once again it comes down to who can work with whom. Without a majority, Labour have successfully stitched together Governments for three terms now. It even managed to make this current one, with the farcical Minister-Outside-of-Government Winston “Baubles” Peters, go the distance. I certainly didn’t have any money on that.

All this talk from Key, and continued by the media, in the past week about the “five-headed monster” is ridiculous. It’s the same “five-headed monster” that’s been running the country for the past three years. Well, the Greens aren’t part of the current Government (is Minister Peters? Is Minister Dunne?), but have had an influence on policy nonetheless.

And if National lead a four-headed coalition (with Dunne, Act and the Maori Party), is that something less than a monster? Even if the coalition has only three heads, but one of those is Roger Douglas, will it not resemble Cerberus, the three-headed hound which guards the gates to hell? Well, probably not. But if John Key can’t sleep because there’s a monster under his bed (and he is looking rather tired recently), he’d better find something productive to do with all those sleepless hours. Personally I'd go down to my room of gold coins, and frolick like Scrooge McDuck.

What happens after the election is going to be as much a tale of who’s going to go back on their word as anything else. Key’s ruled out Winston, and this week ruled in Peter “D also stands for Dynamic” Dunne. The Greens have ruled National out. Hide won’t sit around a table with Peters, even though Peters says he has no problem with Act, “if Hide changes his jacket” – Peters says “all bets are off” when it comes to his support. Jim Anderton won’t work with National, but that’s neither here nor there. The Maori party could work with either National or Labour, but that decision will be based on hui, where the grass roots’ second choice is clearly Labour. When it comes to those hui, the Nats have that whole nagging “We’d like to abolish the very means by which you got into Parliament” policy against them.

Labour on the other hand, will work with anyone.

Place your bets.

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