“A cult of personality”

John Roughan reflects on the typical NZ First supporter

The strangest election night I’ve ever spent was as a reporter assigned to cover NZ First’s evening in Tauranga. As usual, a number of television sets were set up around the party’s hired hall, tuned to the results coming in, but only the reporters were watching them.

The mostly elderly members and supporters were happily sitting around tables of cakes and sausage rolls, sipping a beer or cup of tea, waiting for Winston Peters. They had not even a passing interest in the progress of the nationwide tallies, only Tauranga’s. They spent the hours chatting about almost anything else as though it was just another Saturday night in the Citizens Club.

Peters appeared once the national trend was clear, did his usual prickly thing with the press, then his folk went home. I don’t remember whether he had the balance of power that night but if he did, he could have absolutely pleased himself what he did with it. Those people didn’t care.

That night comes vividly back to mind this week whenever I’ve heard Labour and Greens insisting a majority have voted for a change of government. Labour and Greens want a change, nobody knows, including Peters, what his voters want. He asked for a blank cheque and, regrettably, they’ve given it to him.

Roughan described NZ First as a personality cult but then fails to align it with National under John Key, and the last 5 weeks of Labour under Jacinda Ardern.

Truth is – for most voters – it’s not about policy.

– John Roughan, NZ Herald

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