No deal Steve

Last Friday Nick Xenpohon threw a very agile cat among the pigeons when he announced his intentions to return to State politics and lead his SA Best team in the March State election.
The resulting squawking and flapping was immediate.
But it was Steven Marshall – the man in the box seat to become the next SA Premier – who in the ensuing flurry fired off the first volley and in doing so quite possibly shot himself in the foot.
Mr Marshall was adamant immediately following the Xenophon announcement he would not do a deal with SA Best in the event of a hung parliament.
The Liberals, he said, would stand alone.
This may have resonated well with his supporters as some sort of rallying cry, but it also indicated a lack of awareness of the changed political landscape or, even worse, a limited grasp of the pulse of the wider community.
It is very easy to beat your chest and declare it’s either “us or them” but that’s precisely the attitude that is turning voters away in droves. That’s old school politics.
The reality is that, like it or not, more than 20% of people are expected to vote for SA Best – either because they like Mr Xenophon or feel disengaged from the current major parties and are prepared to give him their protest vote.
This move away from the political duopoly has been growing steadily for years and Mr Xenophon’s centrist position is not a step too far for those wanting to ‘send a message’ to both Liberal and Labor.
It is not a blip.
It is clear evidence of the changing political world and something which, remarkably, seems to have either been ignored or gone unnoticed by Mr Marshall.
Numerous political experts believe SA Best will hold the balance of power and could win up to 10 seats.
If the analysts are wrong and Mr Marshall cruises to victory after 16 years in the wilderness, then all power to him.
But to remove the opportunity to form a conservative government in the likely event of a hung parliament is a confusing strategy that gives Jay Weatherill a huge advantage.
The major parties have the chance to evolve and establish a prime position in the new political reality in this State.
The risk Mr Marshall is taking is spending another four years in Opposition to learn it the hard way.