So we are heading into another election. We have a target date: 23 September 2017. The political parties in Parliament are mobilizing for an election campaign that promises to be the muddiest, grubbiest one ever fought in New Zealand. And among the arsenal of dirt and political poo that is being stored for this massive crap fest is a popular weapon called the dirty deal.
The dirty deal has been strategically used in the past. In 2014, when A.C.T. Party was in danger of being obliterated across New Zealand, National cut a deal with its youthful leader David Seymour to not actively back its own candidate Dr Paul Goldsmith, so that A.C.T. could win the seat and still exist in Parliament. The left was revolted by the deal that enabled a party they heartily despise to live to fight another day knowing their support in virtually every other electorate was non-existent.
Now we hear the screams of revulsion again. Except that they are not coming from the left, but from the right – from people like Newshub’s Patrick Gower and Seven Sharp co-host Mike Hosking. Convieniently they seem to have forgotten their right wing heroes did said deal with A.C.T. in 2014. They also seem to forget the infamous cup of tea that Prime Minister John Key and then A.C.T. leader Don Brash had in 2011, where a recording device was left on the table where they sat. In that year, A.C.T. was also in survival mode, having had a cataract of disasters of its own making in the previous two years, which involved perk buster Rodney Hide coming unstuck; M.P. David Garrett being found to have committed passport fraud using the identity of a dead child; revulsion at the brazen attempt to revive “Rogernomics” – the controversial market economics of Sir Roger Douglas.
The cause of the screams is a deal between Labour and the Greens to support the Labour candidate, former Police officer, and Police Association chair Greg O’Connor. Mr O’Connor is a well known, high profile figure who the Greens in another time would have had difficulty supporting as Mr O’Connor supported the arming of Police among other things, which the Greens oppose(d). Their ease of working with him now stems from a change of heart by Mr O’Connor.
So, yes this is a dirty deal and it is not the sort of deal I necessarily want to see any party participating in. Labour and the Greens have shown themselves to be no better than the A.C.T Party and National. But that is where the similarities stop. Labour are standing a strong candidate in the Ohariu electorate, whereas the Greens candidate has no chance based on the past performance of the Greens in Ohariu. By standing a candidate who have easily taken Epsom electorate in 2014, and then saying they will support a candidate whose party is getting thrashed nation wide and who does not have much chance in Epsom, National and A.C.T still have ownership of the dirtier deal.