Wellington we have a problem, was the call last night. The coalition lift-off was aborted last Thursday, and to quote David Bowie in his hit Space Oddity, it's time to take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

Well for Winston Peters it is because he'll be fielding the flak, probably over the next 24 to 48 hours, as he brings the New Zealand First spaceship back to earth with a thud.

There's a word has never been far from Peters in his very long political career and that's conspiracy. Over the years he's had a conspiracy about most things but over the past couple of weeks the tables have turned since he's kept us all guessing on whether Bill English will get the nod from on high or whether Jacinda Ardern will move on to the Beehive's ninth floor, an office that would have been beyond her comprehension just 11 weeks ago.

As the days grow into nights and the nights into mornings while we wait for the anointment, the conspiracies grow.


Last week saw Peters traipsing to and from the Beehive and during the entire time the escalator was mysteriously broken down, a ploy maybe to weaken the resolve of the wily old campaigner as he puffed his way up the 46 stairs to the ground floor. This week it was miraculously working again when it was no longer needed.

Then there was the caucus meeting of the Labour Party MPs yesterday while National didn't bother holding one. Word went around that maybe Labour had been given the heads up, as National was way back in 1996, to be on standby in the caucus room to wait for the knock on the door for the ministerial demands to be made?

The knock never came. The conspiracy, like most good conspiracies, and as appealing as it was, was just that and the wait continues.

Peters is putting on a brave but weary face but it would seem ground control does have a problem. National's desperate to hold on to Government and after nine years Labour is equally desperate to become Government.

They've no doubt both offered more than they had intended to but New Zealand First is obviously playing hard ball. Either that or there's trouble in the spaceship and they're arguing with each other over which side to go with. Now that's a conspiracy which is basically all we've got.

The board's gone home and the MPs will meet again today. The mysterious board will be contacted by phone to sign off the final deal, something Peters said only last week would be unsatisfactory given the gravity of the decision, it had to be face to face.

Labour will be hoping this ends better than the lyrics of Bowie's hit: "Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do!"