Politics, Actually

Insights Newsletter
22 September, 2023

Everyone knows the best rom-coms are built on love triangles. Think of Mark, Juliet and Peter from Love, Actually. Audiences swooned. The premise was that it’s okay to try to get your best friend’s partner to cheat on them as long as you ask using cardboard signs.

Love triangles are a popular trope because they’re dramatic. Who will the protagonist pick? Will it be the sensible man her parents love, or will she go for the bad boy with improbably good hair?

The key to a good love triangle is that all the characters have both flaws but redeeming qualities. Enough to make internet forums explode with arguments about who the main character should choose.

I don’t think anyone will make a rom-com about the love triangle that is about to form the next New Zealand government.

On the one hand, you have dishy David. You know you shouldn’t like him, but he isn’t afraid to say the things you shouldn’t say but that everyone isn’t thinking.

On the other hand, you have whimsical Winston. You know your grandparents would love him, you know he’s the safe option, but you don’t know if you can trust him. He says he’ll love you for real this time, but he said that before running off with your neighbour back in 2017.

And trapped in the middle of it all you have poor old Chris Luxon, who must choose between the younger and more exciting ACT leader or a man with a long career of being the best of a bad set of options.

I do not envy him. It is one thing entering politics in the hope of changing something, even if that something is just the top line on your CV.

It is quite another to be forced into choosing one of two options that the majority of this country is vehemently against.

Whoever he chooses will demand unpopular policies be implemented as a wedding gift. If they can’t agree on them, they might hold the governing National party to ransom. Divorce papers might be filed quicker than anyone can say “I thought the Left was supposed to be the coalition of chaos”.

But that is the choice that Chris must make. The younger, brasher, more radical David Seymour or the run-of-the-mill outrage merchant called Winston Peters.

Is it love?

Well, it’s politics, actually.

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