No matter how much I don’t want it to, Winston is making more sense

Lately I’ve been paying far more attention to what he and New Zealand First are saying. Sometimes I cringe, just like in the old days. But more often I find myself listening and nodding.

Not because I want to rush out and vote for him. You need to trust me when I say I make a point of not caring too deeply about ‘democracy’ in these dying days of that word.

I listen mainly because he seems to be making more and more sense of the world we are finding ourselves in than, say, the three major parties.

The mere fact that, and on a regular basis, he uses a Voldemort word – neoliberalism – where others never publicly do, tells me he is going to go far in 2017.

There’s a huge part of the electorate that wants that word, and everything it stands for shouted from the rooftops via a megaphone.

There’s also a huge part of the political establishment who simply won’t utter it. You know, not wanting to scare the horses and all that.

Except the establishment doesn’t seem to appreciate that the horses have already bolted, dragging their riders by the stirrups through a rattlesnake-infested landscape of money and cowboys.

As we know all too well, Labour is failing to fire. It is less about their leader – although it doesn’t help – and more about the fact that the times have emphatically moved away from them. Their marriage to the Greens may funk them up a bit but that’s a short-term fix to a possibly terminal problem.

Before the howls of indignation and denial from die-hard Labour supporters crank up, do you remember how you all loved him when he won Northland?

Willful blindness to both changing demographics and a fast-changing New Zealand is what cost you so dearly in the last two elections. Your messaging is off. Winston’s messaging is on.

Winston is a sly old fox, and he knows the vacuum left by a far-left union-driven Labour party, and an ideologically confused National party.

On top of that, he’s running with the slogan “It is common sense”. And dammit if we don’t find ourselves nodding more often than we did in the past.

I really don’t see myself voting NZ First, but the fact that he seems to be saying more and more of what I think is right is in itself in indication there is an opportunistic political shift going on.

Winston is genuinely gunning to lead the third largest party in parliament. The rock steady polls put that as a better than even chance.

– Rachel Stewart, Stuff

  • MaryLou

    This is quite right, of course. No one could ever call Winston stupid, and he has always had some great policies that have stood the test of time (and plenty of it – can anyone even remember when he wasn’t around?).

    But Winston will always be Winston – that is to say, completely mercurial, and a grandstander to boot. If he built his party with up and comers – brought in some real talent, he’d be worth a vote. But his successor currently is… Ron Marks.

    Even if I’d vote for Winston, there’s no way I’d vote for Marks. So – thanks, but no thanks.

    • jaundiced

      I have to agree. Winston is always talking the talk. He talks about what he is going to do. But when? When he is in power?
      Well, he won the Northland by-election based on a raft of promises. What has happened to those promises. He is already in parliament with quite a number of seats occupied by ‘a motley collection of misfits’ (thanks XCIA). If he manages to do the same next election, even with a few more seats, do we really believe he has the political nous (beyond talking) to achieve anything?

    • Seriously?

      Yep, but as the post suggests, it is looking more and more likely he’ll do okay in 2017.

      National have to manage it carefully though. They may need him, but it is pointless to cosy up to him too much as he is not a long term option (I didn’t think he be here in 2017, but 2020? No. And as you elude to when Winston leaves what is left) and the party is unreliable as a coalition partner even in the short term.

  • Tom

    If Winston does become the second party in NZ then we will have Greens and Labour as well. I cant stomach that!

  • XCIA

    But what do you really get if you support NZF? Apart from Peters who seems at times divorced from both the truth and reality, you have a motley collection of misfits who if they had another brain, it would be lonely. Do we really want this outfit to have our future in their hands?

  • zanyzane

    Winston always talks the talk but when it comes to inaction he is a master at not doing anything.

  • JeffDaRef

    Why stop at third-biggest?
    There’s a decent chance he could be second-biggest!

    (Pet hate – continued use of “neoliberalism” as an attack on National – use an encyclopaedia, they are nothing of the sort!)

  • zanyzane

    A vote for Winston is a vote for Angry Little. No thanks. I am sticking with John Key and National that has delivered us a strong economy headed for 4% GDP growth and low inflation when Dairy prices have dropped 60%. What a fabulous achievement.

    • Observer

      I’m not sure a vote for Winston necessarily is a vote for Little. I think National seem more open to a deal with NZF. Also, GDP per-capita growth should be the focus and that is .8%. Granted I agree that’s still not bad given drop in dairy.

      • curry4me

        I think since 1996, most of us have gone from loathing NZ First to grudgingly accepting that a coalition between them and National would be better than the alternative. Also, many have gone from admiring ACTs achievement of getting nine MPs, to being disappointed by their current level of support. Let’s assume a National NZ First government on election night 2017. ACT still has Epsom, and maybe Dunne’s seat. Shane Jones has joined. Now, fast forward to June 2019. Winston has announced his retirement for next year. Shane Jones is his chosen successor. He performs creditably in the election campaign. Many see him as a reliable and competent party leader, and coalition partner. However, there is at least one fly in the ointment. Like a famous guy said. Organizations that aren’t explicitly right wing become left wing over time. Let’s assume ACT won’t likely get 5%, or more than two MPs. Why not take a leaf from the left’s book. Try the ‘long march through the institutions’ routine with NZ First. Join, go to conferences, and keep them honest and credible. With a reliable leader, and some sensible centre-right policies it could be a good choice.

      • OneTrack

        What sort of deal with National? Prime Minister Winston and Key on the back benches?

    • Seriously?

      We don’t really know, but it may be that a vote for Winston is a vote for Little as PM, Turei deputy PM, and Shaw as Minister for the Environment, etc.

      If you vote for Winston you have to be happy / content with that possibility.

      Like you, I’m not.

      • KGB

        I think Little would be gone by breakfast post election. Easy to give WP the crown when Little sits on 7%. A cheap price for government.

  • Bob Dazzler

    Are the NZ first bunch any more inept than the Labour losers or Geen lefties, nah don’t think so.

    • sheppy

      It’s a very big ask to find any talent in Labour / The Greens / NZ First with the possible exception of Winston when he’s in full control of his faculties.
      The opposition in NZ is several levels below pathetic, and I’d not trust any of them to do what they promise if it didn’t cost heaps of other people’s money

  • Greg M

    Winston won Northland fair and square, good on him. But It’s very clear what the result would have been if any of the other NZ first MP’s had stood instead of Winston.
    NZ first is still a party of one and until that changes I can’t see much point in voting for them.

    • Seriously?

      I don’t know that I’d call his win in Northland fair and square. He had a significant advantage. He could promise whatever he liked with no need to ever deliver on the promises. If National made by-election promises they would need to (at least be seen to be trying) to deliver on them if they won.

      I don’t mean that to imply he cheated, it is just the natural advantage that smaller parties have, and he plays it well.

      • JeffDaRef

        National could have made watered-down, deliverable promises that could have won votes if they hadn’t chosen such a doofus as candidate.

        • biscuit barrel

          The need for a by election in the first place- immediately after the general election makes it two strikes.

          • JeffDaRef

            To a degree – but NZF well above 5% anyway and likely to stay there until next year.
            The by-election gave him a bit of momentum but with Labour so useless we’d struggle to argue the by-election alone has made his numbers so high.

    • Bryan

      fair and square nope labour abandoned and even told their people to vote for winston to poke JK in the eye, but that will not happen at a national election they will be after anything they can get as they are so desperate for votes and that could result in the seat coming back to national .

      • hsvmaloo

        Exactly. Many here seem to have forgotten already what Angry Little did to they’re candidate up here. Will they do it again come general election to stick it to the man remains to be seen. National really do need a decent candidate to run for Northland. Me personally would love to see a deal done with Shane Jones and National. Then we really would see the true and bitter nature of Winstone.

  • Rebecca

    Admission time: in the dark ages before the ACT voting malarkey began in a certain electorate, National was a certainty for that electorate so I gave my party vote to Winston. My then spouse was aghast, especially when I pointed out that while his party vote was submerged in the tens of thousands of other National votes in that electorate, mine exerted real influence as one of a comparative handful for NZF.

    I raise it now because times have changed and I don’t think my spouse would be so appalled now. Also to report that it did not hurt last time and certainly won’t hurt this time.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    There is an increasing number of gullible people out there who are easily led by something new. Other observers already know that labelling people is a sorry defence that is adopted by the Media party and the many losers they champion.
    Old Winston First has moved up the pecking order and through the diligence of the Media party hanging on every word he seems to be responding by having more to say. I know this is a bit like the chicken and egg analogy but never the less is happening.
    In all that rhetoric there will inevitable be something for everybody sometime.
    Today it is the secret discussions about a new Government building to replace Bowen House where support staff and minnow partiers are accommodated.
    The most sensible thing he has to say regarding this issue is that it might be time to shrink the bloated number of MPs from 120 to 100. Sound thinking but hardly vote grabbing. While not review the MMP seat allocation by disposing of the distorting algorithm to a very simple formula. Total seats 120. Less elected representatives with the balance of seats allocated by the actual percentage of the party votes. Result a truer result of voter preference. Then every vote counts and there would less Meddlesome Members of Parliament.

  • KGB

    I cannot believe anyone would switch a National vote to NZF. He has gone with Labour before and he could do it again. Though people seem confident he won’t, history proves he could.
    I had this debate with a long time NZF voter a few days ago. When I said he’s done it before, they said “if he does it again I’ll never vote for him again.” Too late then!
    In my opinion most NZF voters are loyal, right leaning elderly, who are still thanking WP for their Gold Card.
    WP doesn’t want some cushy overseas post, he wants a PM hat. Labour will be asking what size.

    Edit – missed word

    • R&BAvenger

      Agreed. I had a conversation with a relative’s mother at a birthday party back in 2009. She was singing the praises of Winston and how wonderful it was that he was responsible for the ‘Gold Card’. I seriously bit my tongue, nodded and smiled, all in the interests of smooth familial relationships.
      I was thinking to myself that I would never vote for such a self-centred snakeoil salesman like Peters, for such a narrow selfish policy.
      For the record having the Gold Card is one thing, but it needs to be more narrowly targeted to those in ‘need’ like other welfare programs.

      • biscuit barrel

        It certainly is tailored- for Winstons voting demographics. Besides there are plenty of free handouts to well off groups, like the $40 mill per year independent schools boost, most of which are very wealthy to start with.

        • Si1970

          I believe that the $40m cost per annum is peanuts compared to the actual costs that would be crystalised by nationalising those schools, losing the parental contribution over and above taxation, and fully funding them within the state system.

    • Andrew Gibson

      Nationals problem, as with all 3rd term governments, is losing sight of who they are in government for. They are supposed to be governing for everyone, even the dopey green supporters. Whether it’s the housing market, zero hour contracts or record immigration, it’s clear national is beginning the slippery slide of treating it’s citizens like numbers. As for siding with Labour, so what? National is in coalition with the Maori Party, who are natural allies of the left.

    • Miss McGerkinshaw

      Yep I was sucked in to vote for him once but never again.
      Thing is as a rough guide I used to use the local papers list of parties and policies and give ticks to what policies I agreed with and NZF ended up with the most ticks. OK I know not all policies will ever be able to be enacted but never thinking he would go with Labour I gave him my tick. He’s not sucking me in again even though National is doing its best to loose my vote.

  • GoingRight

    I thought Winston winning Northland was a protest vote from traditional National supporters. Do we know if they will vote the same way again? If Winston loses Northland it reduces Winnie’s Mana and negotiating power.

  • Teakay

    We are all in serious trouble if constantly resorting to hoary old political stunts is considered to be “making sense” of the world we are living in. If you really want to hear something that makes sense then go to Ted Talks and spend 15 minutes listening to Yuval Harari or read his book Sapiens – A Brief History of Mankind. You will soon learn what a complete Neanderthal Winston Peters really is.