Much has been made this week of NZF's surge in the polls. We thank the media for finally deciding to sit up and take note of what's sure to be one of the more interesting stories this election - our comeback.
However, a surge in Peters-popularity inevitably causes all manner of spurious allegations to come out of the woodwork from the man and the party's detractors. We've already seen the re-hashing of hackneyed versions of the Owen G Glenn saga which omit to mention the police report finding in Winston's favour. Others have sought to raise the specter of Winston the Kingmaker, calling him a reason to vote against MMP due to his deftness at post-election negotiation.
Certain elements in the media (chiefly in my mind this morning's Sunday Herald editorial) are now attempting to undermine our post-election coalition position by spinning the hell out of our two previous Near-Government Experiences (rather like a near-Death experience except with more bureaucracy).
The customary opening claim runs "in 1996 Winston campaigned on destroying National and then went into government with them."
This is then followed with disparaging remarks about the 2005 arrangement, which usually attempts to seriously mis-characterise NZF's interaction with the then-Labour government.
What they're saying is that NZF can't be trusted to *remain* in opposition once we return to Parliament.
Their general thrust is plain - "you shouldn't trust Winston to keep the Government honest in 2011".
Which is ridiculous. Here's why. John Key has ruled Winston out. Winston has ruled John Key out. John Key has ruled out not selling assets. Winston has *very emphatically* ruled selling assets out. There is thus prima facie no reason to assume NZF will go into government with National in 2011.
The counter-factual narrative then usually ripostes by suggesting that New Zealand First had ruled National out in 1996. This is severely misinterpreting Winston's remark that "the price of a coalition agreement ought to be Jim Bolger's head". And, as it turned out, the price of a coalition agreement was more to the tune of ending asset sales, keeping ACT out of government, free doctor's visits for under-6s and moves toward compulsory national savings and a universal student allowance.
Or, in other words, New Zealand First hadn't ruled out National, and made substantial gains and unquestionable gains for New Zealand by going into coalition.
This contrasts markedly with 2011, wherein Winston has very definitely ruled out National; although I suppose it torments the Business Round Table no end to speculate whether he might reverse this position and entertain negotiations ... if he were to re-take his old Treasurer role and once again end the neoliberal agenda of a wayward National party.
Interestingly, it also contrasts rather markedly with the post-election stance adopted by The Greens, who consistently refuse to rule out National.
This despite its highly publicised recent use of Robyn Malcolm to castigate the Prime Minister and its seemingly-now-abandoned taxation egalitarianism.
Our logic, in effect, was this. We cannot in good conscience go into government with a major party that plans to destroy and to cheapen the nation that we love. National's second term agenda is precisely this.
They have declared they will not countenance any party which won't aid and abet them in this.
The Maori Party voting to raise GST to 15% and make our tax system more unfair as the price of its confidence & supply votes is a prime example.
National have said they will stake their second term on partial asset sales. They're hell-bent on it.
They've supped tea with the Neoliberals in Epsom to try and bring their partners in crime ACT back to help them. The record of both parties in office also suggests frank economic incompetence. Under this three-ring political circus, we've seen a massive increase in the number of Kiwis seeking a Brighter Future in Australia.
We've seen rampant inflation, rampant public debt to pay for unfair tax cuts, and rampant spending cuts to both the public purse and our own wallets. We've seen all manner of shadowy constitutional and economic posturing. We've seen the Foreshore & Seabed and aspects of our economic sovereignty quite literally given away. The record of the last three years suggests the Key-lead government might well have resembled the bridge of the Rena.
Any party which is not prepared to rule out coalition with National is, in effect, refusing to rule out assisting National in the despoilment of the country which we hold so dear.
Any party which is not prepared to be honest with voters about its post-election posturing has something to hide.
There would have to be some seismic shifts in heaven, earth, and National Party ethos before coalition with them became an idea which any party genuinely committed to social justice and national sovereignty could support.
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