Why the Greens demand to be part of election debates plays into Key’s hands


The Greens trying to play Chess

Greens lobby for place in leader’s debate
The Green Party has lobbied the television networks to take part in prime-time televised leaders’ debates during the election campaign alongside Labour’s David Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key rather than being lumped in with the minor parties.

Bless the Greens, all the tactically strategic ability of an invasive moss playing the 100 year game with a little brother complex to boot doesn’t make for smart political chess players.

This demand by them to be part of the debates will be mana from heaven for Key. The one thing the National Party fear is Cunliffe against Key in the election debates. Cunliffe’s articulate ability to think on his feet is the thing National Strategists can’t inoculate Key from. Key will end up getting nasty and the person we political junkies on the left see everyday during Parliamentary Question time will be seen by the vast majority of NZers. Gone will be the laid back one liner quipping PM you want to have a beer with, hello the ruthless shape shifting lizard king who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

National Strategists must be thanking the Greens for their new tantrum because the only way Key can avoid a direct one on one fight with Cunliffe is by agreeing with the Greens by demanding ALL political party leaders appear in the debates. That way Key looks magnanimous and pretends to care about democracy while diluting Cunliffe’s ability to hold him to account.

Be careful what you wish for Greens.


  1. Yes Cunliffe is a fine orator. Can’t pronounce ‘chorus, I mean, concous, ah caucus’, thinks $500k p/a plus is a ‘middle existence’, and doesn’t know his own policy. Yes, bumbling fool Key won’t stand a chance against this onslaught.

  2. LOL at National strategists fearing Cunliffe.

    You forget that Key matched it with Helen Clarke who was a far superior speaker to David Cunliffe.

    National will be looking forward to the leaders debates.

  3. Possibly a more appropriate use of your political analysis could be put to better use, by advocating an MMP styled leaders debate? You know, as opposed to suggesting a two party leader debate, FPP presidential style debate, somehow will provide a better outcome for the left? We don’t vote for prime ministers…….I think its time the media acknowledged that.

  4. Key would wipe the floor with the blood of Cunliffe and Norman. Since 2005 Key has won every debate against Cullen, Clark, Goff in that order. Every time the left has underestimated Key. What is more the levels of support enjoyed by Key have remained constant through this entire period.

    This is a plea for oxygen by Norman, but it should be ignored (sadly) as the debate is between the existing prime minister and the man who wants to be prime minister.

    Key has the massive advantage in that he has the capacity to explain clearly why the economic policy of the right works for the majority on NZers, while the left are needing to explain why more welfare is the solution? middle NZ do not want more welfare, and this is something the left cannot understand.

    Norman would be a distraction is such debates. And at 8% he is not as important as he thinks he is.

    • ” middle NZ do not want more welfare (for others)”

      There. That’s fixed it for you.

      The ‘middle class’ doesn’t have its hand out: it turns up with a truck and trailer for as much as it possibly can. And it has been so for many many years.

      If you don’t know that – you’ve been missing out on the gravy train. Catch it on the next round of Smile and Wave.

    • Russel Norman would have John Key for breakfast, chew him up and spit him out at dinner time! The reason Key hasn’t debated with Norman in the past!

      • That is what people thought about Helen Clark debating John Key and, to an extent, Phil Goff debating John Key as well. John Key doesn’t seem to have a problem debating opposition politicians.

  5. … while the left are needing to explain why more welfare is the solution? middle NZ do not want more welfare, and this is something the left cannot understand.

    Oh Peter, and you were sounding almost rational there, until that point.

    No, the Left does not want more welfare.

    The left wants jobs and decent pay.

    Is that clear enough for you?

    But in the interim, there must be a liveable welfare payment for those who, through no fault of their own, lost their jobs post-GFC and recession.

    After all, the boards of Wall Street finance firms were not controlled by welfare beneficiaries.

    • “The left wants jobs and decent pay.”

      No they don’t. The left want people dependent on the state. They want welfare to extend deep into the middle classes so that their dirty tenticles reach into the pockets of people earning up to $15k per annum.

      “But in the interim, there must be a liveable welfare payment for those who, through no fault of their own, lost their jobs post-GFC and recession.”

      And there is. But there also has to be an incentive for the proportion of dead beats who are quite content to sit around and suck off the taxpayer to get off their backsides and get a job.

  6. Yep, I’m backing this. It’s not that Key *wouldn’t* be able to trump Cunliffe in many scenarios, but he will have to get nasty to accomplish it, and Cunliffe is better at drawing attention to what this says about him than Goff, who was far too stiff in debate and couldn’t riff.
    Clark was washed up and over it by the time Key got his leader’s debate with her. The endless compromises which had kept her in government for so long meant that she no longer had firm ground to stand on, while Key could rely on being a blank slate coloured only for the public by the hagiographical coverage which the TV3, Fairfax, and Herald had supplied them with.
    Cunliffe doesn’t have the blank slate or the corporatocracy’s hagiographical cheerleading (quite the opposite, in fact), and Key isn’t as tired as Clark yet, but that just means that unless big things happen between now and then, it’ll be a battle on generally even terms, with an opening high ground advantage to Key. Both of them will prep hard for it, and I expect it to be pretty Hegelian for what is otherwise a rather tame parliamentary political debate.

    • “Both of them will prep hard for it, and I expect it to be pretty Hegelian for what is otherwise a rather tame parliamentary political debate.”
      Cemetery Jones

      “Tame” is right. And until Cunliffe starts attacking Key on the issues that count the debates will need the Greens to inject the necessary frisson to keep the viewers tuned in.

      (Key is guaranteed to make mincemeat of Cunliffe over Labour’s plan to raise the pension and they agree on just about everything else.)

  7. Cunliffe thinking on his feet good orator
    What planet do you live on.
    Look at the mess his policy launches are.
    By the way is Shane the leader now.

  8. I strongly disagree with your article. Key will win the debate, the only question is by how much?

    Including Russel Norman is a smart move for the left which is how we have to think if we value a change in government. It’s not like Labour are going to win on their own is it?

    In any case, the seperation of debates into “major” parties vs minor is IMHO a mechanisim that reduces the likelyhood that either a National or Labour voter will fairly consider any other party.

    I remember a great debate a few years ago with all the party leaders and I found some of their answers surprising and much more entertaining than I would have predicted. Why tune in otherwise?

  9. I don’t care how good a debater David Cunliffe is, as long as he agrees to self censorship he will be useless.

    Maybe if Cunliffe agreed to raise some of the issues with Key that are close to the Green Party’s heart and that need to be addressed like climate change or deep sea oil drilling. Then maybe they might let him speak for them. Until then the Greens would be doing the public a disservice allowing the two other leaders have the floor to themselves to ignore these issues.

    Way to go Bomber to narrow the debate, around ‘safe’ issues.

  10. 347 consecutive months with above-average temperatures.

    This is not a coincidence, it is a crisis.

    And we expect of our leaders that they address a crisis not ignore it.


    Until Key and Cunliffe agree to debate climate change instead of ignoring it, then they have no right to have the floor to themselves and the Greens have every right and in fact have the duty to demand a place in these debates.

    Until Labour agree to halt deep sea oil drilling, new coal mining, fracking and cancel all fossil fuel subsidies, issues on which they concur with National with, then they are showing (alongside National) a complete lack of responsibility for the welfare of future generations and therefore lose the right to have an unchallenged platform to themselves.

    • “A pity that the Polar Vortex is not playing game….”

      Oh but it is.

      Though not unprecedented, it has been exceptionally cold in the mainland USA. At the same time it has been exceptionally warm at the pole. While the rest of the US shivers, the US territory of Alaska is having one of its warmest winters ever. That is unprecedented.

      I liken it to someone deliberately or by accident leaving the fridge door open. We all know what happens eventually. The cold temperature after initially escaping confinement in the fridge equalises everywhere. And in the case of climate change keeps on rising.

      Be afraid, be very afraid.

Comments are closed.