Oh look, someone’s finally figured it out a month after us

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but finally a gallery journalist has woken up.

Winston Peters is, according to Vernon Small, a clear and present danger to ACT and the Maori party.

Metres of online commentary have been taken up talking about the possibility of NZ First squeezing the Greens out of Government in a potential three-way Centre-Left Government after September 23.

But much less understood is the existential threat Winston Peters and his party represent to the three smaller parties on National’s side of the House.

In truth he is set to hold the key – as in “of the jail” – for the political futures of all three.

If Peters grabs the balance of power and opts to install a Labour-led Government it would almost certainly require the active support of the Greens – or at the very least their abstention – giving them some bargaining power. He may try to marginalise them, but they would not be devoid of influence.

The chances of that arrangement are very slim. Check out the statistics around that at Peter Ellis’ forecast website. This site will feature in a podcast next week.

But if instead he puts together a Government with National the two parties between them would have an overwhelming majority in the House. On current polling they would have something like 68 seats in the 120 or 121 seat Parliament.

That would leave the Maori Party, ACT and United Future surplus to requirements for a majority.

Yup, because they are surplus to requirements. Bill English’s continued pandering to brownmail is going to cost him dearly. The other two are cling-ons and their time in government is near an end

If Peters had an incentive to sideline the Greens, even when they could play a pivotal role on confidence and supply votes, imagine what attitude he might take to the three minor parties.

In that scenario they would bring nothing but ballast to key votes in the House.

And that’s before you consider Peters attitude to ACT’s David Seymour (“a cuckolded political prostitute”) and the Maori Party (a separatist entity based on seats he is moving to get rid of).

Why would he dial any of them into positions of influence, let alone ministerial or Cabinet posts?

He wouldn’t, especially the petulant and childish David Seymour. The Maori party are on his hit list too with his wish to dispense with the Maori seats.

Prime Minister Bill English has made his play to avoid the clutches of NZ First, hobbling his own candidates in Epsom and Ohariu and effectively making ACT leader David Seymour and United Future leader Peter Dunne the de facto National candidates. He has gone so far as saying he would vote for them, not his own National candidate, if he was enrolled in those seats.

National’s candidate in Ohariu Brett Hudson has pledged to carry through on that and vote for Dunne rather than himself.

It was a particularly dopey play, English couldn’t even get the name of Dunne’s electorate right in his standup. But it was dopey in another way. Again, from Peter Ellis’ website the chance of coalition of ACT + Māori + National + United Future winning more than 50% of seats is 0.33. Just 33%.

But what if English and National fail in that push to reforge the current governing arrangements, with support from one, two or all three minnows? Then it’s difficult to see how (or why) he would resist for long a demand from Peters to leave them shivering on the cross benches.

There is no doubt Seymour gets it.

He has been hammering the message that only a larger ACT can keep out of power Peters – who he has called “an ongoing national disaster” and who he has lumped into a “cabal of crooks” with Green co-leader Metiria Turei.

But it is not a one way street.

Just as ACT could be crucial in keeping Peters from power, it is at least equally likely NZ First will be in a position to return the favour.

And ACT would be in a dreadful position sitting on the cross benches, with no role in Government, nugatory influence through its vote(s) and no friends in Opposition.

Nigel No-Mates.

Vernon Small is the first gallery journalist to tap away at his keyboard and come to the same conclusion I have…a conclusion I came to months ago.

He left out someone from his list of people in clear and present danger. Bill English. It was Bill English who moved the caucus resolution to chuck Winston Peters out of caucus. His pal Nick Smith seconded it.

If Winston Peters is in the position to be able to deliver a killer blow, he will.

 

-Fairfax


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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.

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