Key Has Shown His True Strengths
The extraordinary events of the past few days have been fascinating for political geeks. The titanic struggle in the House between Peters and the Opposition has been fascinating - and I mean Opposition in its widest sense as even the Greens are supportive of what Hide has been trying to expose and the process he has adopted.
As a series of debates these have been extremely interesting days. The Questions by Key of Clark two days ago carefully extracted from Clark her unwavering support for Peters. More on that later.
Hide's Questioning for which he was ultimately shamefully thrown out, provided the media back drop needed to get the MSM absolutely focused on the issue of the mendacity of Peters. It also showed both the horrid partisanship of Speaker Wilson and the shameless method Peters has adopted (for many years on reflection) to avoid questioning in the House (the claim of sub judice). Wilson came across as partisan and ferociously biased in supporting one member's (and a very dodgy member at that) word over another.
Yesterday Deputy Speaker Robertson, with greater respect for his position than the Speaker herself attempted to find a way to let Hide have his say. Hide made great play of the language he was going to use - Peters repeatedly rose to the fly. Hide feigned exasperation and repeatedly assured the Speaker the matter was not sub-judice. Ad nauseam. Then the killer blow - with everyone waiting for the revelation Hide changed step and spoke eloquently of the mendacity of Winston Peters and the plague he has visited on the House, Helen Clark his (Peters's chief supporter) and her Government. The speech was heard in stunned silence. Absolutely brilliant planning, timing and execution.
Returning to Key - his afternoon dumping of Peters as a potential coalition partner opened his hand for all to see - he had brilliantly manoevered Clark over the past two days. The hubristic fool could not see it coming - sitting in the House chortling at her great cleverness...
First she gave regular, apparently unconditional and unwavering support to Peters. Aided by all her attack dogs blindly chasing the bait laid out. Abetted by the witless Madam Speaker. Next (as Key presumably knew would happen and as had been conveniently leaked by Heather Simpson et al) Peters gave her NZ First's support for the ETS. This linked the two - Clark and Peters together inextricably - The leaking was intended to show Clark's mastery of Peters in his predicament. This proved not a demonstration of leadership - it showed she would do anything to get the ETS legislation through - this was more than supping with the devil - no rat was too big to swallow. She was however wounded by it. It was a major miscalculation - hubrism does that.
The coup de grace was delivered in the afternoon. Key cutting Peters loose from a future National Government. Clark was now (not quite mortally) wounded and her electoral plans unravelling fast. She needs coalition partners. At a stroke Key has made it crystal clear that a vote for NZ First is effectively a vote cast for Labour - NZ First no longer have a mandate to hold the balance of power; And a vote for Labour, with the polls where they are at, is a vote for Peters's party because NZ First support will be critical to get a fourth Labour Government home. Masterful. Planning, Timing, Execution - brilliant.
As John Armstrong wrote today - Key has used all his experience as a currency dealer to quietly build and then close out his position from a place of strength.
On reading the blogs today SageNZ has come to a similar view of the preceding days events - his eloquent analogy to a bridge hand is apposite.