So the Prince of Darkness is back in business.
That master of the dark arts of politics Murray McCully has pulled an almighty swifty on Labour with a dodgy deal to get Shane Jones out of Parliament and working for National.
In layman's terms "McCully-avelli", as I call him, has kicked David Cunliffe right between the legs where it hurts.
It is rat-cunning backroom politics and McCully and John Key would have been high-fiving when they landed Jones.
Yet this "Pacific Economic Ambassador" role McCully has created for Jones needs to be called for what it is - dodgy as.
It is a good job and one Jones could not resist - McCully made him an offer he knew Jones couldn't refuse.
But make no mistake - it is a complete and utter jack-up done primarily to hurt Labour.
Sure, it gets Jones out of the game. Jones was Labour's connection to so-called blue collar, red blooded voters.
It also severs Labour's main link to Winston Peters - Jones was Labour's point man with Peters. Jones could track him down to his yacht if Peters held the balance of power and in fact probably get on board with a box of cold Steinies.
But more importantly to McCully and Key, it puts the pressure on Cunliffe and Labour.
The message is that Labour can’t win.
The message is that red blooded guys like Jones don't fit in.
The talk is all about Labour and its issues and not about the Government.
That's what this is about to McCully and Key - they know another day or even week to the election ticks by with the pressure on Labour rather than Key.
National's strategists are crossing off every day until the election and this probably gives them this week over Labour.
Some will say it is good politics - that doesn't mean it's not a dodgy deal.
I will give McCully this - Jones will be OK at this made-up job and probably do a heck of a lot more than some bureaucrats pushing paper around the Pacific.
McCully has been out of the country a lot as Foreign Affairs Minister and out of the game when it comes to the backroom dark arts.
Steven Joyce long ago well and truly assumed McCully's mantle and no doubt there's been an ego thing going on ever since.
But McCully has shown he still knows a trick or two.
McCully-avelli has got some credit in the bank with Key.
So will Joyce and Key still be able to trample on McCully's mana by finding some way to get him out of East Coast Bays to let Colin Craig in?
McCully is playing hardball on that.
And if McCully does take one for the team and somehow eventually cede East Coast Bays, what kind of deal will he get for himself?
A good one - you can be sure of that.
source: newshub archive