There’s been interesting speculation on why Winston was ruled out. Some think it is tactical (to try and paint him and Goff together). Some say it is because of policy differences. Both may be minor factors, but miss the big reason.
He was ruled out because you simply can not trust him at all.
Peters lied not once but dozens and dozens of times over his knowledge of the Owen Glenn donation. He lied to the media, he lied to the public, he even lied to the then Prime Minister’s face. Helen Clark told Winston that Owen Glenn told her he had donated $100,000 and Peters lied to her face and said he knew nothing about it. And the phone records show that was clearly a lie.
Clark was prepared to tolerate a Minister who lies to her face, in her quest to retain power. Key is not – simple as that.
This is not about policies. Arguably NZ First has more policies in common with National than the Greens and maybe the Maori Party.
John Key does not rule out the Greens. In fact he has a co-operation (but not confidence) agreement with them. If there was a desire to do so, I think he would even consider a deal where you have the Greens take up a couple of portfolios in exchange for perhaps abstaining on confidence and supply. That would depend on being able to agree on enough policies in common.
The nature of MMP means that no political party is likely to govern alone, and the system demands that parties compromise on policies in order to form a Government. But it does not mean that parties should compromise on integrity.
At the end of the day one could trust Metiria Turei and Russel Norman in a Government to not lie to the Prime Minister. Likewise with the Maori Party.
John Key ruled Winston out in 2008 because Winston lied about the Owen Glenn donation, and could not be trusted. Winston has never apologised for his actions, and to this day still insists he did not lie – that somehow it was a coincidence that Owen Glenn phone up Winston’s lawyers with a $100,000 donation five seconds after speaking to Winston.
Unless Winston did some sort of mea culpa and apologised for what he did, then of course John Key was going to have to rule him out again. Because otherwise people would ask, what has changed? And the reality is, nothing has.