By Patrick Gower
Another electorate seat, another dirty deal.
This time it’s New Plymouth - ACT have completely given up and won't stand a candidate to help National beat Andrew Little.
And what we learnt this morning when Don Brash was interviewed by Rachel Smalley on Firstline was that this deal was cracked by none other than the Prime Minister John Key.
ACT have been done over, dirt cheap. John Key has forced ACT to do a dirty deed.
I call these ‘dirty deals’ and make no apology for that.
And why are they dirty? They are really dirty if the politicians do them but don't openly admit them to voters. If they exploit a loophole. If the parties use them to try and hoodwink or manipulate voters.
And you know it’s election year because they are getting done all over the shop.
They are dirty and they are cheap and virtually all parties; Labour, National, Greens, ACT and United Future are doing them.
The Maori Party and Mana haven't done a dirty deal yet but they have been skirting around one.
DIRTY DEAL 1: NATIONAL & ACT IN EPSOM
This deal involves John Banks the former National man standing for ACT and getting the nod from National for its voters to bring him in. This keeps ACT alive.
It’s pretty much out in the open this deal.
But it's still a shabby deal in my opinion because it is blatant exploitation of a loophole.
ACT most likely can't get 5%. The only way they can survive is if they win an electorate seat - then they get whatever party vote they chased.
I can see this rule being relevant if an MP genuinely won an electorate seat.
But in this case it’s a total jack-up, stitch up and a rort, so I don't think they deserve to get the party vote.
It benefits National, even if ACT poll dismally at 1.3% like they are now that could be two or three seats.
So the good people of Epsom roll over like a pack of schnauzers and do what they are told and vote ACT.
And just in case they don't get what to do, the National Party has chosen John Banks' biographer Paul Goldsmith as its candidate in the ultimate symbol of master and servant.
In another rort of the system Goldsmith will get a decent list spot at the election and a seat in Parliament as a reward for not being a proper candidate and deliberately losing.
Goldsmith has essentially said, in the words of the AC/DC lyrics: "For a fee, I'm happy to be your back door man."
I hear the argument now: "It’s within the rules." A politician's favourite excuse.
This is democracy. Whatever happened to playing to the spirit of the game?
DIRTY DEAL 2: NATIONAL & PETER DUNNE IN OHARIU
A filthy deal this one. National are letting Peter Dunne win even though he is polling 0% in our 3 News polls.
Why? Well there is an off-chance he could have a blinder and pick up enough votes to bring in an extra MP but I doubt it.
More likely a dirty handshake deal with John Key has set this one up.
There’s no real strategic advantage like with Epsom, so it’s really just a dirty deal.
Equally so, National knows "no deal" would mean Dunne would go more feral than the possums he doesn't want to use 1080 on and create a three-way race with National's Katrina Shanks and Labour's Charles Chauvel, with Chauvel possibly coming through the middle. Once an MP like Chauvel gets a seat he'll hang on to it.
So in order to keep Chauvel out they do a deal with Dunne and will try and win it outright themselves when he's gone.
So it is a spiteful arrangement that is more about who holds the seat than anything to do with the actual numbers in Parliament.
Watch out for part two of this deal in the coming years when Dunne gets his retirement job.
DIRTY DEAL 3: LABOUR AND GREENS IN OHARIU
Now this is a really grubby deal.
The supposed peace-loving Greens have turned into a bunch of political hitmen doing a contract job on Peter Dunne.
The Greens want to give Dunne some concrete shoes, a "neck tie", even use some high voltage on him and if that fails T.N.T.
So candidate/contract killer Gareth Hughes has directed his voters to go for Chauvel.
It could be argued this is a retaliatory deal but that doesn't make it better.
In rugby as a young fulla, referees would often send people off for retaliating… it’s just as bad.
The grubbiest part of this set-up is how Labour and Greens have started crying since being accused of a deal.
I fell asleep reading some semantic-laden rave from Hughes about how there's no deal, or arrangement, or strategic-voting accord, or whatever you want to call it.
There's something murky going on, the Greens want rid of Dunne, at least come out and admit it.
Be honest with the voters.
A "deal" doesn't have to be a piece of paper witnessed by a JP.
It can be a nod or a wink with the understanding you've built some goodwill for later on.
So what is the fee? Well the Greens may not have charged for this contract yet. They'll do it for free, knowing some business will come their way later on.
So Labour and the Greens are trying to make mileage out of the dirty deals the other parties are doing but they have a grub of a deal themselves to try and rid the Parliament of Dunne and get Chauvel an electorate seat.
DIRTY DEAL 4: NATIONAL AND ACT IN NEW PLYMOUTH
Ugh, this deal makes me feel gross just thinking about it.
The party vote decides the make-up of Parliament. So it doesn't really matter who wins New Plymouth out of Jonathan Young or Andrew Little.
It’s a case of: "may the best man win".
But John Key and Don Brash don't see it that way.
Young won by a tiny 105 vote majority. ACT got 450 votes. It’s gonna be tight in the 'Naki. Those 450 votes could decide it.
National would love to knock Little out of there.
If Little wins the seat - mana enhanced. If Little loses - mana trampled.
There is also a strategic advantage in winning marginal electorate seats.
There is absolutely nothing in this for ACT. Nothing at all. It’s a tit-for-tat battle in the scheme of things.
But they have caved into National and done the deal.
Ex-New Plymouth man Steven Joyce and his crew of electoral fixers have their fingerprints all over this. And that's fair enough: National has a very good machine of its own when it comes to winning the marginal seats it wants. It is of course, within the rules.
But this is a distasteful deal because Brash has refused to admit it, and because it takes the candidate right out and deprives the voter of choice.
So ACT, the so-called party of freedom, has caved into its big brother National and decided to take away the freedom of its supporters to vote for an ACT candidate.
There's no nod and wink. No strategic voting. Just no candidate.
In the New Plymouth deal ACT has been done over - dirt cheap.
DIRTY DEAL 5: LABOUR AND NATIONAL AND RUSTY KANE IN NEW PLYMOUTH
A more minor dirty deal this one.
But it shows just how endemic the dirtiness is. Rusty Kane got 756 votes in New Plymouth. Split the left vote. He told me Labour is pressuring him not to stand so Little can win. He also said National are pressuring him to stand so Little loses.
The two big parties really are the worst. They can't help themselves. Bullies. Voters are just pawns. They should just try and win electorates themselves.
I am a New Plymouth but man never realised it would become the home of MMP-gerrymandering but somehow it did.
So they are the dirty deals out in the open so far.
SO WHAT WILL BE DONE OVER DIRT CHEAP NEXT?
ACT is now distancing itself from a dirty deal in Waimakariri but boy-oh-boy the old Waimak river was starting to smell for a while and it wasn't trout.
It's a logical place for a deal. Labour's Clayton Cosgrove won by only 390 votes over National's Kate Wilkinson.
Moral victory over Cosgrove as well as taking the Labour stronghold of Kaiapoi that belonged to Mike Moore and "big Norm" Norman Kirk.
The ACT candidate got a substantial 1717 votes which definitely would have swung it to National.
But Brash has gone off this dirty deal.
Places like Auckland central, Maungakiekie and West-Coast Tasman all have potential for dirty deals.
But it’s in the Maori seats where some dirty deals could really work.
The Maori Party could take the seats, the Mana Party the list votes, and essentially rort the system.They've been working on this - but are too busy fighting - so that keeps at least one dirty deal at bay.
source: newshub archive