David Cunliffe is in the process of digging another hole for himself. At this stage in the electoral cycle, ought we deter him?
Here's the background, as reported by the Herald:
Labour leader David Cunliffe has denied he has double standards for refusing to rule out relying on the Internet Mana party to form a government despite deriding National for its coat tailing deals in Epsom and Ohariu.
Mr Cunliffe has accused National of manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions to try to boost its support partners' chances through electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu.
However, he will not rule out calling on the Internet Mana Party if needed to form a Government.
The Internet-Mana alliance was set up to try to get the Internet Party into Parliament on the back of Hone Harawira's seat, Te Tai Tokerau.
MMP allows parties which win an electorate seat to bring in other MPs even if they do not reach 5 per cent of the party vote.
David Cunliffe can deny a double standard all he wants, but the facts speak for themselves. He could, if he wished, categorically rule out any post-election deals with parties who coat-tail MP's into Parliament. On current polling, the only party likely to do that is Internet Mana.
But as veteran political journalist Barry Soper pointed out yesterday on Newstalk ZB's Cauldron, he will not do that, because he cannot. Soper noted, quite correctly, that in order to form a coalition Mr Cunliffe will need every MP he can lay his hands on, including those from MegaMana.
David Cunliffe would be far better off to be silent on coat-tailing, especially as there are exactly zero MP's in Parliament at the moment who were elected in 2011 under the coat-tailing provisions. The Maori Party, Mana, United Future and Act all had exactly the same number of MP's as won electorate contests, with no extra MP's brought in on the coat-tails of those who won seats.
Instead however, Mr Cunliffe has gone ballistic at John Key and National for stating clearly and unequivocally what the party's position is, well before the first vote is cast.
And the Prime Minister has been only too happy to rub David Cunliffe's nose in the pile of dirt the Labour leader has been digging; read on:
Prime Minister John Key said Mr Cunliffe would try to form a government with the Internet Mana which had a similar deal and Labour had tried similar deals with Alliance and Green MPs in the past.
"A little bit of consistency would be good." He believed voters knew MMP well enough to make the choices they considered best.
John Key is dead right. Most voters are not fools, and they will make their decisions on the best information available to them. It is up to the voters of Epsom and Ohariu to decide if they will follow the PM's verbal cue.
And as if to add insult to injury, John Key can't resist a final dig at Mr Cunliffe: