Garner on momentum

Duncan Garner writes about momentum in politics and who has it right now.

As the Lions left the country and the America’s Cup euphoria subsided, a groaning political train wreck emerged from the station.

So desperate to position themselves in charge of the lead wagon, Labour leader Andrew Little, NZ First supremo Winston Peters and Greens chief welfare fraudster Metiria Turei all jostled with each other to be first on board.

They were yelling and screaming, poking and pointing in the process. Only Turei managed to get on board for free.

It was brutal, unbecoming – and potentially a mass turnoff to many voters who looked on from the cattle class.

The secret-taping scandal involving National’s Todd Barclay seems like an irrelevant distant memory compared to the collective brain explosions of those in Opposition who want to run the country in less than 70 days.

If this was your stable, centre-Left alternative government on show over the past week then it failed miserably to convince anyone but the truly card-carrying deluded.

I don’t know why Media party commentators are so keen on lumping New Zealand First in the opposition numbers. All that they base this on is that Winston went with Labour in 2005. They seem to wilfully forget 1996.

What did we have? More aggro and abuse than Winston Peters has bottom lines.

The Greens told Peters he was a racist. Little told Peters he was a blowhard.

Peters reminded Little he might be unemployed on election night given how poorly his party is polling.

A Green MP, Barry Coates, said if the Greens are shunted to one side by Peters in any coalition talks then they’ll force a new election. Voters will love that!

Then to cap it off Little reminded the Greens they may not actually make it in to Cabinet if Peters throws his weight around.

It’s a mess for sure, but a mess created by poorly performing Greens and Labour parties. They are fighting over the long dead carcass of socialism.


So, yeah, the alternative government resembled a pile of burning wagons, the smoke hasn’t stopped, and surely voters are leaving the back carriages utterly bewildered at those who are meant to be in charge of the controls.

There’s a simple reason for this power-play.

Labour is weak, uninspiring and uncharismatic. That means the party’s in trouble.

They are having their support sucked from the left and from the centre. By the time of the election, their body politic will have the body of a half sucked throatie.

And Winston Peters isn’t. He has one aim – get as many votes from other parties as he can. He doesn’t care from whom, he senses the momentum is shifting his way. And it is.

He’s got nothing to lose. If you were Peters would you rely on Andrew Little and Labour to get you into government in nine weeks? Of course not.

Peters sees himself as the leader of the Opposition. He has no faith in Little. He’s decided to go for broke in the dance of the desperates.

And Peters, probably on his last shot, wants to get into a position on election night where, maybe, just maybe, he could job-share the role of prime minister.

The more votes he gets, the more leverage he has. And the two old crusty parties will do anything to stay or get into power. There’s no second place in coalition negotiations.

Yep, you might not like it, but that is what MMP is all about. Grabbing as many votes as you can get and negotiate from a position of strength. It’s the smart thing to do.


But I sense something different in Peters this time. He is seriously fired up. Peters has one last shot at this game – he is now 72, and in one survey he’s polling 14 per cent and rising. Labour is battling on 26. He’s the colour and the showman in a game dominated by boring drongos.

He smells Labour blood and it’s clear he’s now aiming to be the biggest party behind National on election night. Why else would he dedicate a night this week to the Manawatu Gorge issue – Peters has woken from hibernation and someone has turbo-charged him.

Labour and National would dearly love to accidentally push Peters under a moving train. But he’s too smart for that. They are truly hating sharing the stage with him this time.

He’s dominating headlines, leading the debate, he stands out from the crowd. Peters is more than nuisance value this time, he’s ready to negotiate for the biggest prize of all. The top job.

Whether that happens is up to you, the voters. If you give him a stunning set of cards on election night he’ll use them. If you don’t he goes back to being a bit player behind the two major parties he detests so much.

This is Peters’ final crusade – and you sense this time he’s throwing everything at his likely final attempt to get the two letters that have evaded him for four decades. PM.

Duncan Garner is dead right. Momentum and the appearance of winning is important in politics. Right now everyone is talking about Winston, negatively and positively, but they are talking about him and no one else. That gets your name recognition right up there, that is what gets you elected.

What you are all witnessing is a consummate campaigner handing to drongos their collective asses right in front of them.

Left or right, there will not be a government formed after the election that does not include Winston Peters.



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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.