Both Labour and National are coalition building. Winnie is the key. The economy is slowing.
THE BRIBE OF OFFICE
As predicted by The Letter, Helen Clark is very keen to get more than just an undertaking to vote for, or abstain, on confidence motions from Peters. Labour is offering him office - in particular Attorney General. He is in no hurry. He is partly preoccupied by his Tauranga electoral petition but also unsure about aligning himself with a third term government.
THE GREENS DILEMMA
Labour and the Greens have reached an in-principle agreement except for the little matter of jobs. Clark would give them cabinet positions except the majority of voters do not want it and it makes it harder to get United Future and NZ First's support. Clark's real preference is a deal with NZ First and United without the Greens.
THE LAST CAB
Clark will not give the Maori Party anything because if they do well, Labour can never win back the Maori seats.
Gerry Brownlee has indicated that in order to get Maori Party support a National government will repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation; put any review of the Maori seats off until 2020; allow for private provision of education, health and welfare i.e. Maori providers, and hold a review of the treaty. National can do this. If Maori are declared the owner of any coastline, government can negotiate public access. There is not a parliamentary majority to repeal the Maori seats. It is National policy to promote the private provision of health, education and welfare and National advocates a review of the treaty. Even Hone Harawira realises this is a good deal.
It is hard to see how either Labour or National can form a government without Peters' support and it appears that either Clark or Brash could form a government with his support. Last time he was in government he was saved by the Tauranga electorate. If Peters decides that without an electorate safety net it is too risky to join any coalition, any government that is formed will be weak.
CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK
Bob Clarkson's team have started looking at Winston's expenditure in Tauranga and is going to counter claim that it is he who has over spent! The danger of being found to have over spent yourself is why there has only ever been one case, Wairarapa, where Labour's Reg Boorman refused to counter claim. Although the court found that both Wyatt Creech and Boorman had over spent, because Boorman had not counter claimed only he was found to have committed a corrupt act and banned from standing for parliament. The court has never ruled on what percentage of a leader's campaign are electorate expenses. If all those "look at my bum" hoardings must be counted it may be Winston who is out!
DON'T BANK ON IT
Labour thought if they petitioned successfully against Rodney in Epsom then both ACT MPs would be replaced by Nandor and Labour's Charles Chauvel. No. It's a by-election and Heather would stay. Labour have also realised that ACT would probably put up John Banks who they hate almost as much as Rodney.
Clark and Michael Cullen have been interviewing the caucus. Historically the Labour cabinet is elected but under Clark a ticket is drawn up, checked off with the faction heads - Ruth Dyson, Phil Goff, the Maori caucus etc and then put to the caucus for a vote of approval. Ministerial staff have been told Clark expects to decide the Cabinet as soon as Wednesday. The goss is: Jim Anderton will get Education; Steve Maharey Economic Development; Pete Hodgson Health and Goff Social Welfare. Talk is this will be a wider Social Development portfolio.
The Letter thinks Damien O'Connor, David Parker and David Cunliffe must all have good prospects. Losing Otago will not help Parker's chances. Clayton Cosgrove's prospects were dimmed by John Tamihere's unfortunate interview, which Clark has not forgotten. Labour has a problem in South Auckland where the party vote returned the government. George Hawkins is out. Philip Field's electorate practices make him hard to keep. Mark Gosche's wife's health is such that he is not available. That only leaves Ross Robertson whose electorate helped save Labour.
INTERESTING ELECTORAL FACTS
David Farrar has done the best analysis we have seen of the election. Labour lost just .16% of the party vote while National was the only party that contested the 2002 election to increase its vote. National's +18.2% parallels ACT -5.6% , NZ First -4.7%, United -4% and Christian Heritage -1.23%. Party polls show it is more complex with Labour losing votes to National and gaining from United and NZ First. National gained in rural and provincial (10 seats) but Labour compensated with gains in the cities especially Wellington. Overall there was a swing to the right of 3.86%. For more see www.act.org.nz/ farraranalysis.
For some reason people do not buy cars, whiteware or make major decisions during an election campaign. The election "recession" was mild this year and car sales appear to be bouncing back but there are signs that the construction industry is beginning to slow.
The Letter readers by a two to one margin want Brash to continue to try and form a government, even though readers realise that means a u-turn on Maori issues. Interesting. This week. How do you feel about Anderton, who was once a schoolteacher, being in charge of your children's education? We will send your answers to Helen Clark. Vote at www.act.org.nz/poll.