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 »