This morning I have a very rare two cheers for John Key.
One cheer for finally saying something, anything, that distinguishes his party from the other party.
Another cheer for what it was he said: ruling out Winston Peters from being a minister in a Key Government.
So why not three cheers? Because on TVNZ's 'Close Up' last night [click 'Donation Questioning'], he confirmed under questioning -- albeit rather sheepishly -- that this didn't mean he would rule out a coalition deal with Peters. Did you get that? He wouldn't rule out a coalition deal with Peters.
So despite what you've taken Key to say, just remember that if Winston's party is still there next year, Key hasn't ruled out making a deal with him. What sort of deal, I hear you ask? Who knows, but it would have to be a deal that a lazy end-of-career gland-handler would appreciate. How would you feel about a deal that saw Winston with a different bauble -- say, a plum High Commissioner's role?
UPDATE 1: Lindsay Mitchell is equally unimpressed:
Johnny come-very-lately steals the show by almost, just about, very nearly, ruling Peters out of participating in a National cabinet. (Note that is not government and not necessarily the Peters' Party). It's a decision about as bold and decisive as another he made yesterday earning him the headline, Key slams bill - but has backed it for now.
UPDATE 2: Paul Walker sees a "time inconsistency" problem here:
Key can say what he likes now but if after the election Peters is the difference between National being able to form a government and not being able to do so then Peters will be in the cabinet. Key can not credibly commit to never giving Peters a place in cabinet, and you can bet Peters knows it.
UPDATE 3: Meanwhile, David Farrar has a question people should be asking the Greens:
The Greens position themselves as a party of integrity.
So my question for the Greens, is this:
Will you rule out supporting on confidence and supply a Government which has Winston Peters as a Minister, after the election?
UPDATE 4: And The Standard (yes people, The Standard,), argues that Key's not courageous, he's poll-driven. With Winston First's slump in the polls, from 4.1% to 2.1%, "it is now in National’s interest to see NZF not return to Parliament and create a large wasted vote; the larger the wasted vote, the less close to 50% National needs to poll to govern. Hence, Key’s change of stance on Peters..." Makes sense, doesn't it.