Are we over it yet? All this to-ing and fro-ing, pushing and shoving, sniping and jostling, sneering and belittling - and I don't just mean the election negotiations.

Certainly I'm over Winston Peters. Whatever ersatz sophistication the man once possessed has disappeared into the massive void of his own ego; far from being urbane and suave the "kingmaker" has become merely petty and obnoxious.

His belligerent treatment of the media over the past fortnight - simply for trying to find out where things stand as far as our next government is concerned - is Trumpesque in its attempted portrayal of genuine journalistic inquiry as some sort of "fake news" campaign.

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The only one spinning a line is Peters, flanked by his sycophantic cabal of the Dobby-like (ex Harry Potter) Ron Marks, used fishing quota salesman Shane Jones, and whoever that woman is who seems permanently attached to his elbow.

If this is really a measure of who we choose to best serve up a government, then God help us all.

Perhaps regardless of the disappointment for the Left and the terminal damage another three years under National would inflict on the country, Labour should call Winnie's bluff: give him their terms, and let him take it or leave it.


After all, if the man can't even bring himself to talk to his potential coalition partners the Greens - instead being openly dismissive of the only genuine environmental party we have (and even National recognise that!) - then how toxic would a Labour-led alliance be?

But the whole shemozzle is symptomatic of the decline (if not demise) of our semi-mythical values, isn't it.

You know, happy egalitarian social democracy, half-gallon quarter-acre pavlova paradise, clean and green, racial harmony; all that.

Even the No 8 wire ingenuity factor is taking a hit these days because of the alleged urban/rural divide - a divide almost entirely in the minds of farmers, arising only because they are reluctant to face the fact the industrial farming model they've bought into is a land (and water) killer.

They're still arguing that forward-thinking regulation such as Horizon's One Plan is black and wanting it blue, when it's meant to be green, or that sucking up more precious water for irrigation to intensify bulk cheap commodities is somehow a smart way of doing global business this century.

Just as "existing use" rights threaten to get in the way (regardless of a WCO or TANK) of the need to modify production on the Heretaunga Plain in order to ensure there's enough water for everyone to make a living without buggering up the whole catchment.

Not that there aren't many other factors behind the election result, but you only have to look at the almost-unbroken swathe of blue across the rural electorates to realise farming communities are the ones dragging the chain on change - and (intended or not) aiding and abetting environmental degradation.

In short, behind the attitudes currently displayed by NZ First, whether they supported them or no.

There's some good news if you look a little deeper: most of the electorates that swung most markedly toward Labour (albeit not enough) were "deep rural" ones such as Kaikoura and Wairarapa.

That indicates not only that there is a growing awareness of and support for a much-needed change of direction, but that the divisions in our society so marked by the posturing of populists like Peters can potentially be healed.

But it will take the farm to come to town by acknowledging that, yes, environmentalism is our only valid option before we can show NZ First and friends the door and know we'll be fine with or without them.

• Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.