There are days when Alf thinks it’s a shame the Common Sense Party led by the short-arsed Peter Dunne doesn’t command much greater support.
Not too much more support.
Just enough to give them a few more seats in the House than just Dunne’s.
And then The Boss would not be facing the dilemma portrayed at the weekend by the NZ Herald’s John Armstrong.
It’s the dilemma of being lumbered with Banks by virtue of needing his vote to secure a majority on legislation where National has no backing from the Maori Party.
Alf overlooked this thinking by Armstrong at the time it was first published. Must have skipped the politics that day and gone straight to the sports pages.
But in a nutshell, Armstrong was saying (here) Peters is starting to look like a better option for Key than Banks as the donations-row pressure mounts.
Presumably he means a better option for a deal that would secure enough voting support in the House to enable the government to do what governments should do, which is govern.
This means selling assets, reforming the social welfare system, helping casino companies and movie moguls with state aid while our two-bit manufacturers struggle – that sort of thing.
Peters may well be persuaded that supporting those policies is a small price to pay for getting another grip on the baubles of power.
But let’s look at why Armstrong is considering such a scenario.
His analysis starts with Banksie’s smart-alec response to a media question about why had he had not shown up in the House the day Kim Dotcom had staged his appearance in Parliament’s public galleries.
Banks replied he had been elsewhere doing what he did best – “raising funds”. He quickly added that he was joking.
It is conceivable Banks was making the joke at his own expense. But it did not sound like it. Rather, it was the sort of joke making light of your troubles that you tell to a confidant who can be trusted not to repeat it.
The remark was a telling indicator of Banks’ “me against the world” state of mind after last week’s release of the file covering the police investigation into large, supposedly anonymous donations to his campaign for the Auckland Super City mayoralty in 2010.
Armstrong credits Banks with maintaining a Churchillian facade.
There was no sign of contrition or meaningful apology.
In that context, his joke about fundraising was a conscious effort to retrieve a few crumbs of dignity in the face of what amounts to a humiliating and very public dressing-down.
But it was also a two-fingered salute to those disturbed by his seemingly cavalier regard for the laws on campaign donations.
The article proceeds to examine aspects of Banks’ sheltering behind his claim that top police officers had essentially found nothing untoward in his behaviour, despite the file’s incriminating contents.
Most people are familiar with those contents and the picture they paint of a friendship with the internet tycoon until Dotcom sought help while he was banged up in prison.
Alas, Dotcom was foresaken, which demonstrated (a) that a $50,000 donation bought Dotcom nothing by way of influence over Banks and (b) someone in the business of foresaking their friends when the shit hits the fan can not be depended upon to deliver support when it’s needed in Parliament.
Moreover, The Boss’s continued support for Banksie – saying he is taking Banks at his word that he complied with local body electoral law until it is proven that he didn’t, blah, blah – is becoming bloody embarrassing.
And as Armstrong points out, after the next election we no longer will have Act’s single vote because –
Banks now has not a snowball’s chance in hell of holding the seat. Although he insists otherwise, it consequently seems highly unlikely he will stand again in 2014.
Such has been the drain on his credibility that National voters in the seat are saying enough is enough. They will no longer comply with any nod-wink arrangement that requires they cast their electorate vote for the Act candidate for National’s greater good.
With that kind of writing firmly affixed to the wall, it is not surprising there is speculation that some of Act’s remaining best and brightest are now planning to form a new libertarian party of the right as a replacement.
At this point in his analysis Armstrong has turned to looking for other potential coalition partners.
He suggests John Key is focusing ever more on how he might do business after the next election with the one politician and party with whom he has previously refused to be a partner – Winston Peters and New Zealand First.
This is surprising. The Boss often confides in Alf on such matters, but has not done so in this case.
If he had confided in Alf on this occasion, he would have been advised it’s a bad idea, boss.
Let’s not forget that Peters’ undoing before the 2008 election was…
What was it again?
Oh, yes. Something to do with political donations.
A bundle of official documents was released in October 2008.
The papers showed an email trail in which Peters – then Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Clark Government – pressed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to have Owen Glenn appointed honorary consul in Monaco.
Key said the revelations were “as smelly as a seven-day-old snapper” and the saga was dragging the Government down.
And that, of course, is what these things are apt to do.
A Dunne deal, accordingly, would be preferable.
It remains for sufficient voters to get the necessary appetite for common sense.