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.

 

– NBR


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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