I hope I am wrong about Winston.

Winston on his good days is a likeable, affable, light of foot bloke who loves a good joke.
National and Labour will see little if any of that over the next few weeks.

His approach, and this is the part where I hope I am wrong, will be one of a hostage taker.
He will go for broke, and in doing so damage MMP.

There are two ways to look at his position. He will look at only one.


He has the balance of power and the two major parties that want to lead the government need his support.

But he is also a party with 7.5 per cent support and 9 seats.

In other words he is a minor player. He lost his seat and saw his vote shrink but due to the mathematical vagaries of the system his sense of place is artificially enhanced.

In one of the more naïve comments to me during the campaign, Jacinda Adern said the size of your vote counts in negotiations. Not with Winston it doesn't.

Which brings us to probably the most bizarre and dangerous suggestion made after Saturday night.

The small parties have been decimated in the 20 years of MMP.

Not a single small player who has had anything to do with government has prospered.
Act had a disastrous night, they won't be in government, their vote shrank, they are only in the house because of a sweetheart deal.

The Mana party are finished, the Maori party are gone, United are over, it's a tale of carnage, poor old TOP never got off the ground, not unlike poor old Colin Craig.


Even New Zealand First when they last dabbled with Government exploded in chaos.
So the suggestion was, given we don't seem to want to vote for small parties, to lower the threshold. The idea that five per cent is too high.

Of all the theories and ideas floating around at the moment, ranging from grand coalitions, to the Greens doing a deal with National - as far fetched as they may be - can we at least all agree and take the lowering of the threshold idea and bury it right here and right now?
Five per cent is a perfect threshold, because it has proven to be a hurdle for many, which it should be.

It has been softened with the electorate concession, the one the Maori Party used this previous parliament.

Even at 5 per cent we still seem to have had ourselves a fair old selection of odd balls.
Lower the 5 per cent - you're merely inviting more madness into the place.
Look at the countries who operate lower thresholds. Italy has 3per cent. That's a stable democracy - not. Greece is another with 3 per cent surely another example of sensible fiscally responsible and longstanding stability - not.

Cypress 3.6 per cent, Bosnia 3 per cent, Albania 3 per cent - now yes some of them run different systems, and some of them have other issues at play, but join the dots.

The easier it is to get to parliament, the madder the place tends to be, the more parties end up in parliament, the more uncertainty and instability you tend to have.

What's National's main pitch? Two parties - nice clean and simple.

We worry about Labour with three parties. Lower the threshold you'll be dealing with five and six party deals, none of which ever last.

MMP is like all systems. It works okay on a good day but it's a shambles on a bad one.

My fear with Winston is we are in for three years of comparative trouble given we've had 18 years of real cohesive settled trouble-free governance.

The last thing we'd want to do is to add to the madness by making it easier to access power.