John Armstrong in this morning’s Herald has given his verdict on the Maori seats imbroglio. Essentially he says this was not a dispute that was going to develop into a crisis but it is an example of slack coalition management. I disagree with John’s analysis of the gravity of the situation, but I found one comment he made particularly interesting
But the National Cabinet was never going to reverse its April decision ruling out Maori seats and suddenly endorse the idea.
Really? Why then was John Key negotiating with the Maori Party over a possible deal? I am quite convinced from everything I have heard from Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and others that they thought they were negotiating in good faith with Key about a deal. Further, that would seem to be the reason that Key went to see Hide in June.
Managing coalition arrangements is tough stuff. I played a minor part in managing theses relationships in my time as an Advisor in Helen Clark’s office. It takes enormous energy and time, a fair degree of flexibility, but above all bucket loads of goodwill and good faith. If John Armstrong is correct and National really did never have any intention of changing its position then this episode will have done far more damage to the long term stability of this government than he thinks.