Bill English is playing high stakes poker

Much has been made about the absence of Paula Bennett from National’s coalition negotiating team.

Well this week she’s on the team, possibly to save National the embarrassment of her being so conspicuous by her absence when the deputies of the other two parties are forever traipsing into meetings after their leaders.

But perhaps Bennett could teach her leader a thing or two about keeping his own counsel, even if Winston Peters won’t be totally relaxed about her presence, given he’s suspicious about her role in the leak of his pension overpayment when the campaign got nasty.

Maybe Bennett should apply the same zipper to her boss Bill English, who’s done little to endear himself to the man he now so desperately wants to befriend.

The best he could say of Peters during the campaign was that he was a challenge to do business with, then on the Monday after the election he told the nation he called Peters the night before but he didn’t pick up.

That was designed to embarrass Peters, and it did, who told us he was out of cellphone range and when he got what would have been a most pleasant message from English it was too late to call him back.

And the zip could have again been used when English made what was clearly an orchestrated outburst on four broadcasting outlets yesterday.

He heaped faint praise on New Zealand First saying it knew how to exercise power, unlike the Greens.

Perhaps his self-proclaimed champion pie-maker Bennett should have baked him a humble one.

If he really knew how to exercise power, why hasn’t he taken the initiative and picked up the phone himself to the Greens rather than waiting for them to dial his number?

Whether he’s still saying Peters knows how to exercise power on Friday, depends on who’ll be crowned the keeper of the Treasury by him the day before.

The zip should also have been applied when English went on to say the Greens weren’t in the negotiating room with Peters, meaning Labour has to run parallel negotiations because he won’t deal with them.

It was a reminder to Peters’ party that dealing with National is much simpler than sweating over a deal out with the other two, especially when one party’s missing.

Peters will see the comment as condescending.

National didn’t get the result because of Bill English.  But his hubris is as misplaced as it is poorly timed.  It’s been rather remarkable that the right of politics have used this period to throw out insults, while the left have been “relentlessly positive”.

I have this knot in my stomach that Bill English, having shaken off his Mr 22% badge is going to go down as a loser on 44% instead.  Just because he’s not the right man to lead the National party.

I’d hate to be right, again.   Still.  Blogging will be awesome for three years.


– Barry Soper

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.