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?

What does any politician want? Power, of course.

Unfortunately, the countdown to Election 2017 has started, it seems – drastically and possibly damagingly early. Prime Minister John Key has started the Dance of the Seven Tax Cuts this week – partly as a curtain raiser for next week’s budget but also to put more pressure on Labour leader Andrew Little, who is doing a big speech this weekend.

It is increasingly likely Mr Peters will hold the balance of power after next year’s vote, and inevitably there is already speculation about what he wants.

The prime ministership, some say. Whether anyone would be desperate enough to give it to him it is dubious: National’s Jim Bolger faced a slow and eventually successful revolt when he made Mr Peters deputy prime minister and treasurer in 1996. Imagine the fury at giving him the top job.

On the other side: Such a decision would be not only fatal for any Labour leader who offered it but it would be also be calamitous for Labour’s status as one of New Zealand’s two main parties.

But, as noted here before, Labour is aping Mr Peters more and more – and not only because Mr Peters is the country’s most effective opposition politician.

Labour can ape Winston all they want; it gives the voters choices. Why would they vote for a poor facsimile of Winston Peters when they can just vote for Winston? It is the same reason as voting for National. People get all of Labour’s policies but don’t have the humourless union boss; they get that nice Mr Key instead.




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  • GoingRight

    I doubt any of Winnie’s useless team mates are paraded alongside him at these meetings. Does anyone know? I wonder if those who vote for Winnie realise who will come into Parliament as well with him. They seem unqualified for any job in Parliament and this worries me enormously. The best way to stop him is give more party votes to ACT or Maori party so National can continue to run this country without the games no doubt Winnie will play should he be the King Maker. God forbid if that happens!

    • Aucky

      NZF is Winston Peters. There is nothing and nobody of substance supporting him and that is NZF’s problem. Without Winston NZF is dead in the water, he’s getting on and leads a decidedly unhealthy lifestyle. There is no succession.

      • networkstar

        Shane Jones could be re incarnated as Winston without the stylish suit.

        • Aucky

          I wonder how that would go down with the bantam cock from Carterton?

      • Alan Beresford B’Stard

        Apart from the fishing.

    • Wheninrome

      His running mates should be highlighted and put under pressure, they will either rise to the challenge or sink. If they rise well and good, if they sink then Winnie will have to rethink his strategy, because it can be made to be more about his other running mates than him. It just takes MSM to buy into the story. Lets hear more about Tracey Martin (I think that is her name) more about Ron Marks and the others, who are they what are their names, what have they done in life.
      Winnie’s particular style doesn’t allow anyone else to crowd the stage with him, He is a loner at heart.

  • OneTrack

    I hope the people considering voting Winston have Little doubt that that they would be enabling a Green/Labour/NZ First government of the demented if they actually vote for him, even if Winston does get to be called Prime Minister for the first year.

  • niggly

    Where has this ludicrous idea come from that as part of a deal Winston would become PM? Possibly for National (and now in this MSM article possibly for Labour)?

    Talk about tail wagging the dog (nevermind the massive ego trip), we’re talking about NZF getting perhaps somewhere around 10% of the vote (or possibly higher). It’s as ludicrous as the Greens on say 10% of the vote or thereabouts also having one of their (or both) leaders being the PM in a potential Labour/Green Govt! Nuts!

    If NZF do well in the next election get to play kingmaker, Winston should be there on merit (not a tokenism/pandering PM role). If it were to be with National, I wouldn’t mind him having a high profile role such as Foreign Minister (he seemed to handle that role well under Labour and did some good things for eg NZ-US relations). It’s one area where Winston’s conservatism would be an ideal match for him and the Country (and our foreign relations etc).

  • kayaker

    I don’t know about Rob’s record (of predictions coming true), but Winnie is in danger on peaking too early. He’s riding on the wave of disenchantment with Labour with no real policies of his own. The trouble with old Winnie is that he’s all mouth and no action. It’s all about him. What Rob Hosking seems to miss is that Labour’s ratings will bomb even further, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that Labour voters will drift his way.

    Also, he appears not to have factored in how strategic and pragmatic JK and his team are. It’s early days yet, and there’s more to come from National that will very likely capture more of the middle and left of middle ground thereby diluting Winnie’s/NZF share.

    We’re up in Northland for a few days. Word up here is that Winnie has been useless as tits on a bull. He’s delivered zilch and they hardly ever see him. His UKIP stint is a joke, he hadn’t paid as much attention to Northland as he should have and as he promised.

    • Alan Beresford B’Stard

      He to busy fishing to worry about Northland.

  • Wayne Peter McIndoe

    and unlike Labour he actually has some policies that do resonate with alot of people, we may not like them, but problem with labour is that we have no idea what the party actually stands for

  • taurangaruru

    Peters wants Key’s head on a stake (figuratively), that will be his aim. He will want to be known as the Pollie that took Key down. National need to be ready to reject that demand but politicians being what they are my bet is they will shank Key if & when the time comes to save their own bacon. Do that & National will be back to the wilderness as JK has many many more supporters than National.

  • Tom

    I see Winston took a bit of a hit in the latest RM if their graph is right! But he is doing a better leadership job than the rest of the opposition!