NZ First

Winston the elephant

There was a rather large elephant in the room through the weekend at the National Party conference.

Though the party had, in the words of one senior Beehive adviser “stage managed the shit out of the conference” talking to MPs and delegates revealed a party that has one major issue on its mind.

And the issue is the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

National strategists have believed for a while that NZ First was making up ground but that it was winning that ground off Labour.

However, the election results in Australia, Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump all point to this being a time when established parties need to take populist insurgents seriously.

It’s not just a question of whether National will need New Zealand First and Peters to form a Government, but would he even consider it as long as John Key leads them, and if he did, would their agreement to have him join to end the same way his previous engagement with National did under Jenny Shipley in 1998.

Their preference is to have the current Government and its support parties be re-elected with much the same numbers it has now.

And that’s the official line; that’s what the goal is.

The elephant in the room is that National are slowly drifting ever more to the left, allowing Winston more play in the middle. Readers have noted that Winston is ‘starting to make sense’ to them.  Read more »

Minor parties

It is the time of the electoral cycle when the smallest of Parliament’s parties start to have existential crises. These are real crises for Act and United Future, given they look into the abyss of extinction every three years.

There is precious little oxygen in the rarefied atmosphere inhabited by Government support parties. If evidence was needed it came this week when Dunne tried to remind people of his existence by issuing a press statement setting out the three policy themes he would be focusing on in the lead-up to the 2017 election. The themes were: an economy that provides fairness, choice and opportunity; establishing core environmental bottom lines; and embracing and celebrating a modern, multi-cultural New ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.

It was effectively a campaign launch. It fell with the impact of a feather.

It is a tricky time for the leaders of the two parties. Act and United Future are dependent on either wooing 5 per cent of voters to get into Parliament or on keeping a grip on an electorate seat.

Neither has come close to the 5 per cent mark for some time and nor are they likely to. In both cases, the electorate seat deal is the only option.

Both Dunne and Seymour are all but guaranteed to be back in the next parliament, and their existential crisis is but a media mirage. It is clear that neither is likely to get 5% for United Future or ACT. So, the only risky thing is that their sugar daddy, National, is going to drop support.  Read more »

Prime Minister Winston Peters. Here’s how


…Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

Election night 2017 might be now or never for Peters, given he will be 72 by the time the next election rolls around.

Which is why the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement announced this week might be the game changer everyone is talking about, but not in the way they think.

Because it may bring Peters’ dream within his grasp.

How so?

It’s been 20 years since the first MMP election and while we think we’ve seen every permutation and political curveball it can throw at us, there’s still one scenario that has never been tested with the public.

That scenario is one in which the party with the biggest share of the popular vote is ousted by a coalition of smaller parties.

In the initial wash-up after the Labour-Greens announcement, everyone seemed in agreement on one thing – that it would push some soft Labour votes into NZ First’s arms.

National would be the ultimate beneficiary, the thinking goes, since Peters is actually utterly predictable when it comes to coalition negotiations, despite appearances to the contrary.

He has always gone with the party that wins the most votes on election night, and that includes the 1996 election, even if National was only ahead of Labour by a whisker and it took him six weeks to get there.

And the Greens and Labour combined will still not have more votes than National.  Read more »

Winston explains why National voters are coming to NZ First

Winston Peters in front of his campaign bus

“There’s no doubt we’re gonna corrode the National party base because people have got a guts-full,” Peters said.

“We’ve spoken about things for a long time that have proven to be true, more and more New Zealanders are remembering who said that first.”

New Zealand’s levels of immigration were “disastrous economically and socially” – an issue NZ First had predicted years ago based on international research, he claims.

Read more »

Rob Hosking on the rise and rise of King Winston

Rob Hosking at NBR discusses the rise of Winston Peters and how he is setting the agenda.

[T]he NZ First leader is also stumping the country, appearing in towns and getting crowds well in advance of expectations.

In places the Labour Party has given up on or has been given up on, or where people want an alternative to the current government but can’t quite bring themselves to vote for a red or – even worse – a Green – there is Winston, with a welcoming smile.

A few weeks ago, organisers in solidly National Pukekohe put out chairs for an audience of 150 – and more than 300 turned up.

Now, it is an old political trick, when wanting to make a crowd look impressive, to put out too few seats so you can boast of ‘standing room only” – and we know Mr Peters is not fastidious at all about pulling off old political tricks.

But this is in one of the safest National seats in the country – and it was on Mother’s Day, a time when a lot of Mr Peters’ core constituency tend to be keener on spending time with their families.

What does Winston want?

Read more »

Little’s flawed strategy

Richard Harman explain’s Labour’s and Andrew Little’s flawed strategy.

As the political fallout from the Panama papers begins to settle it is clear that the debate has become quite simply the Prime Minister against the Leader of the Opposition.

National politicians over the weekend at the party’s regional conference were all perplexed by Labour’s tactics and most concluded that the party appeared to have no organised strategy.

Instead, it had been left to Labour Leader Andrew Little to go head to head with Prime Minister John Key.

But that was Labour’s strategy.

Labour sources say they want  Mr Little focus on the Prime Minister and portray him as a rich foreign exchange dealer looking after his “mates” from the finance sector.

As part of this strategy it has been decided Mr Little will be the sole spokesperson the Panama papers.

Read more »

David Carter lost control of the house

David Carter isn’t a very good Speaker. He never really wanted the job and is somewhat ham-fisted at it.

He is still miles better than both Gerry Wall and Margaret Wilson, who were perhaps the worst Speakers I’ve ever seen.

Right now though, NZ First are running a campaign to make his life a misery.

Yesterday it was Dennis O’Rourke and Winston Peters who got turfed. O’Rourke is a whingy prick and the little gimp deserved it. Winston was just picking a fight for a fight’s sake.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and one of his MPs have been ordered out of Parliament’s debating chamber.   Read more »

Hooton on the rise of King Peters

Matthew Hooton was one of the first to posit that Winston Peters is aiming for a big swansong to leave politics.

The polls are pointing to that conclusion.

He’s never been Prime Minister, but wants to at least have some time in the job.

Sceptics of the Peters’ plan all miss two important points. The first is that the people of New Zealand simply aren’t stakeholders in post-election negotiations. No one voted for Mr Peters to become Jim Bolger’s treasurer in 1996 or Helen Clark’s foreign minister in 2005. On both occasions, voters would have considered the very idea laughable – and, indeed, I was laughed at on Radio New Zealand’sNine to Noon in 2004 when I first raised the idea of Mr Peters becoming foreign minister.

More recently, it’s doubtful New Zealanders have really wanted United Future’s Peter Dunne to have responsibility for tax collection or drug policy, or Act’s David Seymour to set up charter schools. But, immediately after an election, the next is a political lifetime away and the politicians go for whatever they can get, regardless of what voters think.

The second point is that a Peters-chaired government would not be seeking a second term anyway. If Mr Peters’ aspirations could be negotiated back to a single year, Andrew Little or a new National leader would have to wait just 12 months to become prime minister and would then have two full years to refresh the government and make a pitch for re-election. Sir Winston would be safely packed off to Observatory Circle or New Zealand House.

Ambitious politicians would have little doubt they could get voters to forget about the controversial origins of their government in that timeframe. Do you recall what the political controversy du jour was even six months ago? (Hint: in early November I wrote about the Royal New Zealand Navy’s invitation to the US to send a vessel to its birthday party later this year.)

Read more »

Brand Little too toxic for Peters

Winston Peters speaks at a Maori Affairs select committee

Winston Peters knows how to count, and he’s counted Andrew Little out.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says his party has no plan to campaign alongside Labour at the general election or to issue joint policy.

Labour leader Andrew Little said yesterday that Labour was working closely with New Zealand First and the Green Party and met with their party leaders regularly.

“We’ve got to have a good relationship if we’re going to call the Government to account because that’s what New Zealanders want us to do,” he told TVNZ’s Q+A.   Read more »

Hang on a minute, perhaps there is a method to Little’s madness

Mr Little said large inflows of semi-skilled migrants were putting pressure on jobs, especially in Auckland. If in Government, Labour would immediately place a cap on immigration levels until economic conditions had improved.

The Labour leader said there was a provision in New Zealand’s free trade agreement (FTA) with China that allowed Chinese chefs to work in this country.

“The immigration department no doubt applies that for other ethnic chefs. But the reality is we have big ethnic populations, certainly Indians, certainly Chinese, and I would have thought we could outsource chefs locally rather than have to rely on immigration to get them.”

Asked why he had singled out chefs, Mr Little said this was just one example of semi-skilled migrants filling jobs which could be filled by locals.

He did not know how many chefs were coming into the country through the FTA provision.

If in power, a Labour Government would place a cap on immigration immediately.

So, the years of Helen Clark with unbridled Chinese immigration and a Chinese Free Trade agreement, are coming to an end under Little’s Labour.  This is quite a U-turn.  Read more »