There has been a lot of speculation today around the blogs about the relationship between NZ First and Labour, or more to the point, between Winston Peters and Helen Clark. This follows from Bill Ralston's piece in this morning's Herald on Sunday which I blogged about earlier today. The Hive , No Minister and Adam Smith have expressed interesting opinions.
I've thought about this a bit more today, and have concluded that Helen Clark has three options with regards to Winston Petersall of which are risk/reward:
Option 1: The status quo - Clark does nothing, and hopes that Peters rides out the storm. Risk - allegations mount against Peters, and Clark is perceived as weak and complicit to his hypocricy. Reward - the storm blows over, the government runs its term without further collateral damage.
Option 2: A short delay - Clark waits until the Appropriation Bill is passed, the sacks Peters. Risk - Clark is seen as indecisive, hypocritical and self-serving. Reward - the Labour-led government survives the final confidence vote, and goes full-term. Clark claims moral high ground (whether deservedly or undeservedly) for sacking Peters.
Option 3: Decisive action - Clark sacks Peters before the confidence vote, NZ First withdraws from its C&S agreement, and the Labour-led government collapses resulting in an early election. Risk - Clark has to go to the country early, and before Labour is ready for an election. Reward - Clark can legitimately claim having acted decisively against Peters.
There is another possible scenario however. Winston Peters can, at any moment pull NZ First from the C&S agreement with Labour. If he does this before the Appropriation Bill has its Third Reading, the Clark government will fall.
Little wonder then that the PM looked a little strained on her appearance on Agenda this morning. Keeping Stock's analysis is that not only is she caught beyween a rock and a hard place, but the water is rising as well.