Then remember how a couple of week later he said he expected a vote on Labour bill to lower the limit to be a conscience one?
From the Herald last week:
"I imagine it would be a conscience vote," he said.Now he's gone to caucus and has been told by Joyce and Power that his original flip-flop makes them look bad. So he's flopped back to the original plan:
"I know there's a wide range of views within our caucus.
"So that's something I would have to take to caucus, but off the top of my head I'm not proposing to stand in its way."
National MPs will vote on drink-drive limits as a party, despite Prime Minister John Key earlier indicating it would be a matter of conscience.Key at least left sufficient room in his first statement to claim the subsequent position isn't a complete u-turn. He did mention, after all, that the matter would be determined by caucus.
Last week Mr Key said the decision on how to vote on lowering the blood alcohol level for drivers, proposed in a member's bill from Labour MP Darren Hughes, was likely to be left up to individual National MPs.
However, after discussions at caucus yesterday, Justice Minister Simon Power and Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the party had agreed to a free vote on the purchase age but not on other changes relating to alcohol.
Yesterday, Mr Key denied it was a backdown. "It's actually the opposite ... That was the will of caucus. I was happy to support either view but I'm more than happy with the position they've adopted."
But that won't wash. Key is leader of the party, and when he expresses an opinion on what he expects the caucus decision to be, we should be able to rely on it. It seems, then, that he was overruled.
It is probably coincidental that the two ministers who announced the new voting position, Power and Joyce, are regarded as rising powers in caucus and as the most likely to succeed Key. Key doesn't need to worry about leadership challenges while he is riding high in the polls. But now might be a good time to invest in a stab-through vest, to deflect the knives that will be aiming for his back as soon as his polling begins to drop.