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Can We Trust Winston Peters?

Written By: - Date published: 11:03 am, March 20th, 2016 - 139 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, Deep stuff, election 2017, greens, james shaw, labour, Metiria Turei, MMP, nz first, political alternatives, Politics, polls, vote smart, winston peters - Tags: , , , ,

As National suffer the predictable result of John Key’s mad scheme to change the NZ flag, the next election will present the opportunity for NZ First to decide who will lead the Government. So can we on the left trust Winston Peters?

First up, I don’t like the term kingmaker.

It’s anachronistic, even if its political meaning has evolved. We have a modern democracy, where MMP requires positivity and negotiated coalition building, not the ceding of power to an unchallengeable leader. If NZ First are in Government, it will be as a junior partner to either Labour or National.

They will have an influence, for sure, and no doubt Winston Peters will want his pick of the posts below Prime Minister. He’ll also be able to negotiate a couple of minor ministerial posts for his lieutenants. But that’s about as far as it goes for the NZ First caucus.

Cabinet is not picked on a ratio that exactly mirrors election results; the largest party will always have the lion’s share. It’s more a case of a small number of Ministerial posts that have strategic value to the junior partners.

That means that of more interest to NZ First will be policy gains. That was the approach the last time they were in Government and Labour delivered for them. For example, Winston’s gold card has stood the test of time, despite the Tory governments we’ve endured since it was introduced.

So what do NZ First want and which party is more aligned with their policies?

NZ First currently base their policies on what they call their 15 Fundamental Principles.

Amongst the fifteen are left friendly positions like these:

  • Economic policy will comprise a strategy for export-lead economic development to add value to our resources, relying on independent business expertise with government support to encourage economic success.
  • The employment of New Zealanders is our first planning priority.
  • Money spent on education will be treated as an investment, not as expenditure.
    Health will cease to be a balance sheet item.
  • Immigration will cease to be used as an excuse for our failure to train, skill and employ our own people.
  • The Welfare State must be an umbrella to meet genuine and deserving need.
    Our foreign policy objective will be good government at home and being a reliable neighbour in our region.
  • Wise Governments view the preservation and enhancement of the environment as sound economics.

At the last election, NZ First campaigned on a manifesto that was full of ideas that were clearly supportable by the left, but not deliverable by the right. Their policies remain mostly sound and often clearly compatible with both Labour and the Green’s platforms. There is a harmony already in lots of areas between the three parties and the leadership of all three is sound.

Andrew Little, as an experienced negotiator, is in a good place to bring the parties together. If there are differences between Metiria Turei and James Shaw, on one hand, and Winston on the other, Little is the guy to find the point of agreement.

That’s already happening in Parliament.  The three parties  often work in sync to attack the Government in Parliament. However, while the Greens clearly have no alternative to Labour that wouldn’t see the party implode, NZ First certainly can flirt with National in the post election period.

But only a Labour led Government can actually deliver the majority of policies NZ First hold dear.

In addition, Winston enjoyed a progressive and positive time as part of the last Labour led Government. And it was National that forced him into the wilderness for three long years. His personal relationship with the Labour leadership is good. Much less so with National.

The Northland by-election was an absolute triumph for Winston Peters and a foretaste of what’s to come at the general election for National. So, have the Tory’s tried to rebuild their standing in the north? have the tried to work with the Northland MP?

Nope. They’ve spent the time since they were trounced building a smear campaign instead.

They’ve lied repeatedly about Peter’s presence in the electorate, ignoring the fact that he lives there, ignoring the fact that he has been a busy, active electorate MP. Instead of learning the lessons, they’ve reverted to type, bullying and bullshitting. And nobody up north is buying it.

Northland is Winston’s seat now and it will be as long as he wants it.

So, while it remains possible that NZ First could go with National post election, my reading of it is that it’s a lock that they will support Labour to form the next Government. It’s in their interests to do so, because only Labour can offer genuine support for the majority of NZ First’s policy platform.

That’s not a call for anyone to vote for them. We need the Labour and Greens vote to be as high as possible. But the simple fact remains that those two parties are 5-10% short of an outright win.

So, whether we like it or not, we need NZ First if we are to turn NZ around.

As I’ve written elsewhere, The Maori Party and Peter Dunne, should both be returned to Parliament, are likely to go with the consensus. If there is a mood for change, being opportunists, they will want to be associated with the winners. That could leave National in opposition with only the Epsom clone for company. That’s what they deserve, obviously.

So should we bothered about Winston Peters and NZ First going the other way?

Nah. There’s nothing we can do to stop him going with National, if that’s his choice.

But history and their own political policies say NZ First will support a change of Government. So lets do our own thing, build the vote on the left, and put ourselves in a position to make the next Prime Minister someone with NZ’s interests at heart.

Like it or not, we need NZ First. But first we need NZ to like us too.

UPDATE: CV raises a very interesting point in the comments about the likely make up of Labour led coalition. Will cabinet, for the first time, be proportioned out roughly in line with the partner parties’ popular vote?

Maybe it will. But another possibility arises.

The Greens have shown in previous post election negotiations that they leave ego at the door. They’ve been much more concerned with policy gains than Ministerial posts. NZ First, on the other hand …

Could it be that Winston Peters ends up with more of his NZF colleagues with him at the cabinet table than strict proportionality requires?




139 comments on “Can We Trust Winston Peters? ”

  1. Matthew Hooton 1

    You are naive. Peters doesn’t want policy gains. He wants to be PM. That is the thing Labour/Green will need to offer to trump the knighthood, DPM, foreign minister or whatever other portfolio he wants package Key will offer him.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      This bullshit again.

      • Matthew Hooton 1.1.1

        You can think that, but it is what Peters wants more than anything, and what he is working towards. And why he talks so much about George Forbes.

        • Lanthanide

          He may want it, but he’s not going to be in a position to get it, as 3rd party. 2nd party, maybe.

          I can imagine deputy PM as 3rd party, though.

          • Colonial Viper

            My pick is that Winston doesn’t want to be PM. Too much stress, too much work, too many long hours, and he won’t be able to serve Northland the way he wants to. DPM or shared DPM, maybe.

          • Matthew Hooton

            Yes, I think it would be necessary for him to be the 2nd party, well ahead of Greens and not too far behind Labour.

            • Lanthanide

              Ok, that makes more sense. I agree that in a scenario of 22 / 15 / 13 with NZFirst 2nd, that posing the question of him being PM starts being viable.

              I just don’t think the results will be like that – I think Labour will be higher (can’t see them going lower than 2014) and NZFirst will likely get around 12-13 at the most.

        • Trey

          George Forbes often known as Honest George. I can see how Winston would want to emulate him but somehow I can’t see that Honest Winston would want to jump into bed with Dishonest John.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2


        It seems to be all the right-wing ever have.

    • Ad 1.2

      He’s our parliament’s own Tom Jones. Those over-70 girls he just pulls so easy. And they vote.

      Matthew you’ve underestimated the grudge he’s built from being excluded from power this long, and how many of those principles are diametrically opposed to National’s.

      He really does want old-fashioned economic nationalism.

      His preference is to be in power, sure, but he wants his policies installed.
      So he is not simply going on the block, should he poll close.
      He will go with Labour much more than he would National.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        He’s our parliament’s own Tom Jones. Those over-70 girls he just pulls so easy. And they vote.

        And would say over-60s. He is pretty sprightly and fit for his age, after all.

        • Ad

          If there was any NZ politician I could be, I’d be him.

          All the cigars, all the whiskey, all the travel, all the Super one could want, a devoted party machine, on the rise, and 71.

          I don’t have to trust him to like him.

          • Colonial Viper

            exactly – you just take him for who he is. No one is perfect and no one is a saint (well, not many anyway), especially these politicians!

        • Mike C

          @Colonial Viper

          I am in my 50’s … and whilst I wouldn’t throw my g-string at him while he is up on stage during the campaign trail in the lead up to next year’s Election … I will vote for him if Judith Collins ever becomes the National Party Leader. LOL.

    • North 1.3

      DP Hooton makes no sense at all unless he can point to a Peters default position in favour of National. He can’t.

      • Matthew Hooton 1.3.1

        Peters default position is for the largest party and/or the incumbent prime minister. Which will be National. Labour/Green will need to offer him more than National can or will – although, depending on events and the details of an agreement, I could imagine the National caucus itself choosing to role its leader to make Peters PM and their new leader deputy for 18 months, before taking over as PM 18 months before the 2020 election.

        • That was his position in the election he went with National. And we all saw how that turned out. Say what you will about Peters, but I don’t count on him being dumb, just xenophobic.

          I’ll be very surprised if he gives even serious consideration to a coalition with National.

    • dv 1.4

      That was quick Matthew.
      Post up 11.03
      Your comment 11.07

      Peters causing concern to the Nats?

      • Trey 1.4.1

        Very quick. Didn’t even have time to proof read and see that he had written role when he meant roll. Bazinga

        • Rodel

          Matthew’s frenzied hatred of Winston is well documented. Can almost see the blood coming from his eyes..or whatever.

    • cogito 1.5

      Winston would be a great PM.

      He would restore dignity and integrity to the position of PM after years of Key bringing it into the gutter.

    • mosa 1.6

      Winston has always been an effective electorate MP and has invested a lot in representing Northland
      He will want policy gains for that region and has a strong interest in foreign affars
      Those will be starting points and its all a moot issue unless the National party suffer a massive dop in their numbers which is unlikley given their amazing success so far on issues that would have sunk a Labour government some time ago even though the shine is slowly wearing off its main asset
      This is another 4 term twenty first century version of Holyoakes 1960s administration
      Sure if National drop in the party vote by a few points it will be a new dynamic but its stayed high and all this talk of Labour forming the next government ignores the numbers as they stand. I would love to be proved wrong.
      Polling only 30 to 34 wont help them they need to be at least 39-43 in the polls and in a strong position to have authority with other parties and be able to set a leglislative agenda and survive a 3 year term
      Only when that happens will we see a watershed election and a move in the status quo for change

    • Tautuhi 1.7

      Hooton in quick definitely an SPS Troll

    • saveNZ 1.8

      @Matthew, can’t really see National giving him the PM position either??

      • Matthew Hooton 1.8.1

        I agree it all seems unlikely. But who would have believed he’d end up Bolger’s Treasurer and privatise Auckland Airport?

    • TopHat 1.9

      These threads were becoming interesting to read once again. but now you’re back with your poisonous bullshit I have to sort through the venom and hate that you cultivate. So I am off to read something intelligible now you’ve bought the tone down once again.

    • gerry 1.10

      hooton…. I really don’t know why you think people believe the crap that comes from your mouth on here

    • gez the rev 1.11

      hooter your full of crap, if you think people outside your circle of Nazi friends believe you, well I wont swear on my first day here, but you get the idea.
      whatever key offers him he knows it will be offered with forked tongue, he absolutely loathes the hair puller
      after sitting next to Winston on a plane for an hour I got a great one on one with him, and he would like nothing better than to see key sorted.

    • Peter Watt 1.12

      Who would know what Winston wants? More than 20 years on since he accepted the bribe of National to be DPM after the first MMP election and kept the nation waiting 6 weeks until the deal was brokered Winston may be ready to put the needs of the nation ahead of his own naked ambition. The notion of trust and Winston are at opposite ends of the political spectrum in my opinion. This election may give him the chance to leave an enduring legacy for NZF, by developing a path of succession and development. It may be NZF’s last chance – sobering for them and their followers.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    no doubt Winston Peters will want his pick of the posts below Prime Minister. He’ll also be able to negotiate a couple of minor ministerial posts for his lieutenants. But that’s about as far as it goes for the NZ First caucus. Cabinet is not picked on a ratio that exactly mirrors election results; the largest party will always have the lion’s share

    That really is old fashioned FPP thinking.

    On the latest RM poll results, Labour would have 34 MPs. NZF + Greens would have 28 MPs.

    Remind me again why Labour would think it can claim the “lion’s share” of Cabinet positions?

    Just because?

    If the Greens and NZF were any smart, they would go into negotiations with Labour with a pre-prepared joint negotiation strategy, with the goal of maximising what they get from Labour.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Except Winston has *always* said he won’t do deals before the election, because you don’t know what the results are going to be.

      So it would seem difficult for him to commit to anything that Labour / Greens could rely on.

    • It’s not FPP thinking, it’s actually what has happened in every MMP election so far. And there’s been plenty of them since we switched to MMP, so I’m rather surprised you haven’t learned from history.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        It’s not FPP thinking, it’s actually what has happened in every MMP election so far.

        Of course it’s obsolete FPP thinking.

        Which NZ MMP election are you thinking of btw. Which had the major governing party trying to run the table with only 30-something MPs?

        I think that such a result is going to be a New Zealand first. As it were.

        • te reo putake

          Don’t make me laugh! This is the actual situation in every MMP election so far. It’s not FPP thinking, and not just because coalitions hardly ever happened under FPP. History says you’re wrong, CV. This is how MMP works in practice.

          However, every new election is an opportunity for change, so maybe the next one will be different. But also mitigating against your fantasy is that no party currently has mirrored ratios as a bottom line in post election negotiations. So, it’s not even going to come up in negotiations, except, possibly, as an easily dropped bargaining point.

          The junior parties will do as they always do, which is to negotiate the best deal on policies and cabinet positions that they can.

          Only a goose would go in to those negotiations with a non negotiable bottom line of having exactly the same percentage of cabinet posts as their percentage of the potential coalition’s overall vote.

          • Colonial Viper

            As I said, if NZF and the Greens had any sense, they would prepare a joint negotiation strategy to use when they sit down with Labour after election day.

            Labour with 34-ish MPs, NZF and the Greens with 28-ish MPs.

            This is how MMP works in practice.

            As I said, a governing party trying to run the table with only 30-something MPs is going to be a whole new situation. Much more like multi-party the coalition situations found in Europe.

            • te reo putake

              Sweet. Now that you’ve bought the rest of the world into, perhaps you’ll be able to provide examples of coalitions formed where cabinet positions mirror voting percentages. Not that it will change reality in NZ, but it would be nice to know if it’s ever happened, anywhere.

              I have a vague feeling some governments are required by their unique electoral legislation to ensure an equitable split in cabinet. But that’s not applicable here, obviously, where the split is a matter of negotiation.

              Can you find an example anywhere in the world that looks like the situation you reckon is going to happen here?

              • Colonial Viper

                I agree that Labour will (try and) corner the lions share of Cabinet posts for themselves.

                But with a weak 30-something MPs, I don’t think that they’ll get to run the table.

                Sweet. Now that you’ve bought the rest of the world into, perhaps you’ll be able to provide examples of coalitions formed where cabinet positions mirror voting percentages.

                I was speaking of the multi-party coalition governments which are common in Europe.

                But I also think NZ can lead the way on this.

                A shared Cabinet would be democratic and it would reflect the party vote decision of the electorate.

                All it would take is for NZ First and the Greens to take a joint negotiating strategy to Labour to get the most out of Labour that they can.

              • Just as an aside to the thread, can I just say what a thrill it is to be debating about what happens when we win? It’s nice to be at the point where victory is realistic and achievable.

          • Gabby


      • Matthew Hooton 2.2.2

        If you want to “learn from history” since 1996, the lesson would be that it is the party with the most votes that leads the government and (with the possible exception of 1996??) the party with the most popular leader that gets the most votes. But I’m not going to reach eternal conclusions from a sample of 7 elections. The only rule is 50%+1 wins.

    • Matthew Hooton 2.3

      You are exactly right about it being FPP thinking. The only rule is that to become PM a person has to have the confidence of 50%+1 of MPs and to remain PM they have to not lose a confidence vote. As much as people seem to believe or wish there were other rules, there aren’t. And Winston knows it. So if he can engineer a situation where 50%+1 MPs acquiesce to him becoming PM that is what will happen, and it doesn’t matter what John Key or Andrew Little think. This is what he is working towards. Now, it may be impossible and it is certainly very difficult. But I think it is a little easier in a, say, a 22% + 15% + 13% situation for the 15% party leader to become PM than in a, 42% + 15% situation. This is the one thing that might make a 22% + 15% + 13% combination more attractive to Peters than a 42% + 15% combo. If people think it all through carefully and accurately, including by focussing more on personal ambitions and less on the traditional policy spectrum, and I think they see it is more plausible than it may first seem intuitively.

      • Colonial Viper 2.3.1

        by the way, if you think Winston still wants to be PM (I’ll accept that he did 20 years ago), you don’t know him very well.

        • Sacha

          Winston is too lazy to be PM.

          [Lazy comment. If you’re going to criticise him, please build an argument a bit stronger than repeating old slurs. TRP]

          • Sacha

            I worked with a senior administrator who years earlier worked with Winston in a law firm. She said even early in his career he had a reputation for getting other people to pick up his work and coast through on charm. I have no reason to doubt her word, and she had no axe to grind.

            I really can’t imagine he’d want the job of PM where it is much harder to delegate enough, let alone to Ministers from other parties who owe you no loyalty. It would end in tears rather than glory.

            • cogito

              “She said even early in his career he had a reputation for getting other people to pick up his work and coast through on charm.”

              I don’t think that was exactly substantiated last year in the Northland by-election, was it. He was tireless.

              And no-one can create a party and lead it for over twenty years by being lazy.

            • Chooky

              I know a senior public servant who said Winston Peters was the best Minister he ever worked with…Peters always listened carefully to his senior advisers, was always well prepared, well read on his background papers and made decisions swiftly and fearlessly…

              as well, one of his university law lecturers said he was one of the best law students he had ever taught…

  3. Trey 3

    I believe that he was disgusted by the way that Key and his Government covered up for Mike Sabin and lied about the timeline involving what they knew and when. At heart Winston is an honest man and I can not see him wanting to form a goverment with somebody as dishonest as John Key.

    • mpledger 3.1

      But it’s to his negotiating advantage to get all opposition parties offering him as much as he can so he’ll be open to everyone and everything.

      And he has to set himself up for the next election. He could see Key out and take over National as their new leader because what’s behind Key is unelectable.

      • Stuart Munro 3.1.1

        While it’s true there’s not much talent left in the Gnats either – why would Winston want such dregs? They couldn’t do what NZ needs. But in 2020, if he’s retiring, the Gnats might well go to him cap in hand to rebuild them into some kind of credible opposition for 2023.

        The political future of the Gnats will very much depend on the fate of corrupt practices like the Cabinet Club. While it shapes their policy they will shed votes and credibility – but they’ll have significant war chests.

        • Chuck

          What planet are you on SM? are are you sure you are not confusing Labour with the “Gnats” as you call them?

          By all means talk things up, but don’t live in a dream. Of all the political parties National have by far the most depth and talent.

          • Liberal Realist

            “By all means talk things up, but don’t live in a dream. Of all the political parties National have by far the most depth and talent.”

            So tell us about these National MPs whom have depth and talent?

            Here’s a small list of notable achievements from National MPs: 1:11

            John Key – Ponytails, TPPA, the flag & the most divisive PM ever.
            Bill English – 7/8 deficits (and one slash & burn false surplus)
            Stephen Joyce – 1 massive Novapay scandal, cockslap
            Judith Collins – multiple counts of conflict of interest.
            Paula Bennett – pulling the ladder up from underneath her (and enjoying it)
            Gerry Brownlee – Christchurch. Airport security I’m a minister!
            Johnathan Colman – Life saving drugs for cancer patients?
            Chris Finlayson – Let’s use our spies to smear the opposition!
            Simon Bridges – Bridge to nowhere, rail. Northland.
            Hekia Parata – Let’s just give them failing charter schools more money!
            Amy Adams – Irrigation is great when I (in)directly benefit from it!
            Anne Tolley – Defund night classes, crush cars. Donghua Liu
            and so on.

            They’ve definitely got depth and talent alright, just not with governing or governance.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Of all the political parties National have by far the most depth and talent.

            I suppose you can say that when they seem to have been dredged up from the deepest pits of Hell.

          • Stuart Munro

            You must be joking Chuck – Nick Smith couldn’t be relied upon to pull a post-it off a letter – Gerry Brownlee granted execeptional powers has made an exceptional mess, Bill English has lost more money than all previous finance ministers combined – and they are supposedly the smart ones. I have pond scum that is smarter than Woodhouse. It’s cleaner too.

            The Gnats are, like their eponymous insects, trivial bloodsucking annoyances at best and writhing masses of corruption on their banner days. You’re American – you’re accustomed to corrupt Dahlian polyarchy – New Zealanders are used to participatory democracy of the kind that inspired Popper to write Open Society. You look up to the Gnats as a higher political form, we look down on them as the lowest imaginable one.

            If you intend to live here you need to aspire to something better.

          • gez the rev

            are you kidding, have you actually seen the clowns in action.

    • Tautuhi 3.2

      What has Sabin been up to haven’t heard anything in the Press?

  4. Chuck 4

    You are correct on a few points, like; can Labour / National trust Winston Peters? Remember this is most likely Winston’s swan song before he retires come 2020. He would love to become PM even on a shared basis…and that is what Andrew Little would have to content with. And to boot Winston will want the Greens side lined as much as possible, hence the Greens will need to accept there fate (again). All the above comes even more probable if on election night, NZF poll above the Greens and Labour are not in the high 30’s.

    National would need to…enact a couple of his polices…give him a cushy portfolio. And upon retirement, come down Sir Winston Peters…

    • mpledger 4.1

      They are going to have to carry Winston out. Politics is his life. He’ll position himself to scoop up National when Key leaves.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    NZ First certainly can flirt with National in the post election period.

    I really don’t think that they can. As I said the other day, Winston and NZFirst in general are Old Style Conservatives with Old Style Principles and they’re presently watching as the National Party tramples all over those principles.

    Northland is Winston’s seat now and it will be as long as he wants it.

    And if he does a good job and puts a good replacement in there, NZFirsts forever.

    • cowboy 5.1

      I think everyone is under estimating Winston’s motives as witnessed by Rodney Hide’s diatribe in the Herald.

      As the post alludes he has had a platform of 15 key principles that he has held firm on since party inception. He actually believes that stuff and has a (growing) following that believes it too. You only have to look at US elections or the Brexit debate to see that there is a worldwide shift in sentiment towards a more nationalistic policy setting. He is perfectly positioned to capitalise on this. That is a large part of his appeal at present as the electorate know what he stands for and against. That why Labour are floundering because they are only going half in with some of their positions.

      The other issue is that the next term is likely to be his last. His ultimate legacy requires him to be able to hand over a political movement that survives his presence. There are signs he has some able MPs in his ranks and that they are quietly developing and from my perception seem exceptionally united. Hopefully they are building some depth into their candidate list for the coming election as that has been the downfall of many a smaller party that receives a surge of electoral support.

      • Olwyn 5.1.1

        Well said cowboy. Right now, there is far more at stake for Winston Peters than the quality or quantity of baubles on offer. I think even his past moves have been roughly consistent with what you say in your comment – when he aligned himself with Bolger he thought he had a show of pulling National back toward his policy platform, when he aligned himself with Helen Clark he saw her party as offering the best chance of advancing it.

        • cowboy

          Thanks Olwyn. At present the Labour and Greens have been moving towards his policy positions and are treating him with some respect. National have been ridiculing him and advancing policies that are an anathema to him such as TPPA and open door immigration.

          Its National who are in the difficult position here because they know he is getting traction in their rural base which is financially heading into dark times. If they soften their stance towards him they risk validating his positions even more and if they continue pillorying them they will alienate him beyond the point of no return.

          The biggest impediment to him going with Labour and the Greens is if they fail to get their own house in order.

          • Chuck

            Labour will not exit from the TPPA, nor will they restrict immigration. Remember the China Trade agreement which was done under Labour, with Winston stepping aside from it at the time.

            Farmers / Rural community likewise know whats in store for them if the Greens and to a lesser extent Labour win power. Winston will need to come up with a way to calm those fears in order to gain the rural vote in any numbers.

            • cowboy

              You only have to look at what has happened in Northland to see how effective Winston can be for rural NZ. Look at all the promises offered by the Nats in the by election and the subsequent regional development package that has been wheeled out. None of that would have happened if Northland had rolled over the status quo.

              Regional NZ needs to wake up to the fact that Auckland’s electoral might is going to dominate and they need to consider buying insurance. Winston has been clever enough to position himself in that space.

              I agree that the Greens are going to be in a difficult position as they are likely to have to compromise some key policy platforms to allow a left of centre govt to be formed.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Labour will not exit from the TPPA, nor will they restrict immigration.

              Labour’s going to have to step forward and say that they will drop from the TPPA. No one wanted it except National.

              Probably should do a review of all other FTAs and the WTO and see how or if they’re benefiting us.

              • Matthew Hooton

                Are you suggesting Labour should review New Zealand’s continued membership of the WTO?

                • Skinny

                  I see Peters is front man along with the other 2 opposition party’s at a pretty big gig at the Whangarei main theatre in a couple of weeks.

                  From a couple of good sources the big hitters from Natcorp are turning up. Understandable given they are rightfully paranoid about the local chap not being up to holding out a stern challenge.

                  Pretty sure I will secure a ring side seat. Looking forward to seeing Campbell live, who is rumoured to be asking the hard questions on stage, those I heard TV3 had the rights?

                  That cow cocky (sorry name escapes me) who sold his farms up North to the toilet paper king, has got a pretty good blues band is playing on stage and at the after match function.
                  You know the haps Hooton?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Yes. It’s usually not a good idea to take things on faith as you should well know now that you’re a bonafide philosopher.

    • Tautuhi 5.2

      Plus Whangarei in 2017 Election you heard it here on TDB.

  6. barry 6

    We can trust WP to do what’s best for WP.

    If it is close (i.e. if Labour + Greens + NZ1 make up 51%) then it is very unlikely. More likely is a minority National government, but most likely WP will be Deputy PM behind JK (and then Judith Collins when JK retires).

    The only way WP is going to support Labour is if they could just about form a government without him.

    WP is getting near the end of his career. He is going to want something pretty prestigious to go out with.

  7. Joseph 7

    Who knows what Winston will do? Speculating now doesn’t matter or help. We know that Winston will do the best thing for Winston and there’s no good reason to be sure he is not thinking about being PM as part of that. The only thing that matters is that Labour/Green are as large as they can be so that Winston’s influence in minimised if not neutralised. The only way to do that is to work together to present a strong alternative govt with a definite policy plan so that voters know what will be delivered.

    We know Labour just doesn’t get this, because it would take nearly a whole term to first work through policy positions with the Greens and then build in the mind of the public the idea of what the Labour/Green govt will stand for and do for NZ. That neither Labour or the Greens have started this discussion with the public yet means they aren’t pursuing such a strategy and haven’t done the joint policy work that should be well under way by now. And that means it is probably too late now as they have wasted a year.

    The problem here is squarely Labour, not the Greens, who have been pushing this approach for years. And not just because Labour has a large faction that hates the Greens, but mainly because most of Labour fear Winston and thereby play directly into his hands. They don’t realise that they can’t influence him. They don’t realise that even pissing Winston off now will have zero implications post-election. This keeps Labour from building the idea of an alternative govt in the mind of the public. This keeps them from differentiating from Winston by pointing out that obvious fact that Labour want to change the govt, but Winston isn’t sure. They don’t have to shut the door or be unfriendly. Winston is welcome to join the project either before or after the election. But they must get on with the job and not let Winston slow them down. instead Labour walk on eggshells and lose votes to Winston because they look like they can’t get it together and can’t paint a better value proposition than his.

    Without a clear alternative govt in waiting that voters understand, we’re looking at a fourth term for National. The only thing that would change that is a scandal that takes National down, but that’s not likely and waiting for them to fail is a stupid strategy anyway.

  8. Grantoc 8

    If Winston is the power broker following the 2017 election, I don’t think he’ll adhere to the principle of proportionality when negotiating with other parties. Especially when negotiating with Labour and the Greens.

    Many reasons for this have been discussed above.

    There is another reason, which I don’t think has been mentioned, and that is to do with the human dynamics of the situation.

    Winston is in his 70’s. He ‘s been in parliament for decades (possibly before James Shaw was born). He’s been there much longer than the combined leadership of the Greens and Labour. He will see himself as a grandee and Little, Shaw et al as rookies.

    In my opinion it will be very hard, if not impossible for him to accept being the third ranked leader in a left of centre coalition because of his personality and his ego, if this is how the cards fall on election night 2017. He will consider the leadership of Labour and the Greens as being wet behind the ears. He already sees himself as the informal leader of the opposition.

    In the unlikely event of a left of centre coalition being crafted together on the basis of proportionality, which includes NZ First, it will be very unstable with the potential of Peters walking at any time if he doesn’t get his way.

    BTW I bet Winston would love this particular blog if he could be bothered to read it.

    • weka 8.1

      Let’s say for the sake of argument that NZF and the Greens both get 13%. Why does one have to be ranked above the other? Why not have 2 junior partners?

      Then, say one party is on 10% and the other is on 13%. Again, why not have two junior partners with equal ranking?

      • Grantoc 8.1.1


        Which ever way a centre left coalition was configured, I struggle to see Winston and NZF accepting being described as a ‘junior partner’.

        This language would rankle with Peters even if factually true. Because of his own perceived sense of superiority and seniority, he wouldn’t see himself being ‘junior’ to Little, or an equal ‘junior’ with Shaw and the Greens to Little and Labour.

        If I’m right, it speaks to the challenges of forming this centre left coalition. You have to get the language right even before you start negotiating power sharing deals.

        Dealing with Peters is fraught with difficulty.

        • The lost sheep

          Given that the Greens are still polling 50% more than NZF, and given Winstons consistent attacks on the Greens as ‘extremists’, and the unlikelyhood that Winnie will be willing to compromise himself to suit the Greens, or to be a junior partner to them….
          Has anyone asked the Greens how much compromise they are willing to make in order to be an acceptable coalition partner for Winnie?

          I reckon that any deal acceptable to WInnie would destroy the Greens within one term of office.
          Labour and NZF will happily jump into bed. The Greens know who is going to be the one who gets screwed if they join them.

          • maui

            Why was Shaw nodding and yessing to a lot of what Winston said on TV3 the Nation last week then? And why did all three leaders look like they represented the same party? I guess you didn’t see it because it doesnt reflect what you’ve said.

            • The lost sheep

              My point is made in light of having followed both Winston and The Greens for the entire time they have been Parliament.
              On that basis, I say that a bit of ‘nodding and yessing’ on a TV panel counts for nothing and History speaks loud.
              When it gets down and dirty in making a deal with Winnie, how far is James going to be willing to bend over while still smiling?
              I’d like to hear what the Greens have to say about this marriage that is being arranged for them?

              • weka

                It won’t be up to James (which you should know if you’ve been following the GP all these years).

                Any arranged marriages are in your head. The Greens have held to their principles probably more than any other party in parliament, no reason that would change now.

          • weka

            Of all the parties, the Greens are most adaptable. No, I don’t mean they will be forced to compromise, I mean that they already know how to work across a range of views for the common good (which in turn doesn’t mean they will be pushovers either). That’s built into the kaupapa, it’s not an add on.

            • The lost sheep

              is there any reason why the two smaller parties can’t be 2nd equal?

              One very distinct reason. Winston Peters

              The Greens have held to their principles probably more than any other party in parliament, no reason that would change now….
              the kaupapa….

              My point exactly Weka. Consider for instance Winnies stance on many ‘Māori’ issues, such as Te Tiriti. (See extracts from NZF policy below)
              Do you see the Greens being willing to ‘work across a range of views’ in that area within a coalition?

              In relation to the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand First considers that:

              The Treaty should be a source of national pride and unity and not used to expand the separate rights of Maori or anyone else. Too often the Treaty now divides, polarizes and isolates us.
              The Treaty is not part of the New Zealand Constitution. It is not capable of supporting the extraction of so-called ‘principles’ for any legislative or government purpose. Ill-defined and abstract ‘principles’ are a recipe for legal and constitutional misunderstanding and dispute.

              • weka

                Why is Peters the reason?

                “Do you see the Greens being willing to ‘work across a range of views’ in that area within a coalition?”

                Of course. The GP has its origins in cultures that work with consensus and other decision making processes that allow people to work past differences and disagreements. This doesn’t mean everyone ends up agreeing with each other. It means that there are ways to work together even when we disagree.

                • The lost sheep

                  Why is Peters the reason?

                  Because he is Winston Peters, and he would be the Kingmaker, and the Greens would not be.
                  You are aware of Winnies history Weka? Has he ever made a deal that did not maximize the leverage he had available for his own gain?
                  I thought you’d be well aware of that because of the various shaftings the Greens have received after previous elections due to Winnies deals.
                  Do you seriously believe he has changed and will now meekly accept equal billing with The Greens under Labour?
                  Stay away from smiling crocodiles if you do!

                  The Greens are not ‘the most adaptable’ party. If they were, they would be the ones we were talking about potentially holding the balance of power. But we aren’t, because we know they are in fact a one trick pony.
                  They are only capable of working with Labour, and even Labour has only wanted to work with them when there was no other option.

                  Winston is the most adaptable agent, and that’s why he holds all the cards, and that’s why I am willing to bet that the only deal Winston is willing to make with a Labour / Greens coalition is one that The Greens would find too tough to swallow.
                  Winston knows very well that National will be willing to put an attractive package on the table, so he would go into any negotiation knowing he does not need to accept an inferior deal.

                  (BTW I referred to only James bending over, because I just couldn’t bring myself to extending the metaphor so that it put Metiria into that visual space…..)

                  • weka

                    I think Peters is the sticking point because he likes power and he doesn’t like to share. I was just curious what your reasons were.

                    Fuck off with the lectures mate.

                    “Winston is the most adaptable agent,”

                    Pretty bloody easy to do that from the centre in a system that enables him so much power via that position. It’s not him being adaptable. Adaptable from the centre would be him being able to work with people he disagrees with across the spectrum. What he does is actually pretty conservative.

        • weka

          “Which ever way a centre left coalition was configured, I struggle to see Winston and NZF accepting being described as a ‘junior partner’.”

          Sure, so change the language (and I agree, it’s fraught because of Peters). Whatever language is used, is there any reason why the two smaller parties can’t be 2nd equal?

          • Stuart Munro

            Why not triumvirs? Economical decisionmaking in the event of disagreement.

            • weka

              How so?

              • Stuart Munro

                They never tie.

                Part of the Green success story has been co-leadership – borrowing the two king strategy from the Spartans was inspired. It also reduces the impact of any individual slip ups.

                Co or joint leadership is a good fit for MMP governments.

  9. chris73 9

    Short answer is no. Longer answer is Winston Peters will do whats best for Winston Peters.

    For every good reason he could go left (and there are good reasons for it) there are equally good reasons he could go right.

    Winston has always said his preference is to support the largest party.

    He’s taken Northland off National which is true but he knows its not because Northland have gone left but rather because they’re sending a message to National which would suggest the preference for Northland would be for Winston to go into coalition with National

    He may want revenge against John Key and what better way to inflict that vengeance then to make John Key go cap in hand to Winston Peters to pass something through the house

    Much easier to get what you want when dealing with one party (National) then with two parties (Labour, Greens) so whatever position he wants or title his best option is through National

    Little may be a very good negotiator but I’d suggest John Keys better

    So based on the above there’s every reason to think he may go left but based on prior history I have no idea what way he’ll go so counting a bloc of Labour/Green/NZFirst is a little premature

  10. alwyn 10

    You finish this post with the following comments.

    “The Greens have shown in previous post election negotiations that they leave ego at the door. They’ve been much more concerned with policy gains than Ministerial posts. NZ First, on the other hand …
    Could it be that Winston Peters ends up with more of his NZF colleagues with him at the cabinet table than strict proportionality requires?”

    I think that both these views are quite mistaken.
    When Labour left the Green Party out of their ministerial considerations in 2005 the Green Party were extremely unhappy. They refused to even provide a confidence vote to the Labour/Winston Government. They most definitely wanted their bums in the ministerial limousines.
    At the time of the last election campaign Norman was getting extremely vocal about ALL ministerial roles being up for negotiation. He was very clear that he saw himself as Minister of Finance. If a Labour led Government had been possible that job for Norman would have been part of the price.

    As for the idea that Winston wants other NZF members in ministerial roles I don’t think he does. He did in 1996. However they were the ones who split off from the party when he tried to take them out of those jobs. They preferred the status and perks of being a minister rather than following Winston, like Moses, into the wilderness.
    You will note that in 2005 he didn’t want ANY of his party colleagues to have any position at all. After 2011 he wouldn’t even pick a deputy leader for the party. Elevating someone could make them a threat to his own position. That is why I used Labour/Winston and not Labour/NZF in the first part of this comment.

    Winston is concerned only with the best interests of Winston. If you want to know which way he will go just look at what he can be offered. He’ll choose the path that is best for HIM.

    • cowboy 10.1

      There may have been an element of truth in that previously but I just don’t see it now.

      If NZ First are elected on a strong mandate it is obvious he will be in a strong position to name his price. In short he’s guaranteed a senior position pretty much of his choosing. At that point he actually doesn’t have a lot more to prove. He has already been Treasurer and Foreign minister and been the nemesis of the most popular PM in modern times. As ive said previously I think his greater motivation will be seeing his political movement survive his tenure. He knows full well that means bringing the next generation through.

      • Phil 10.1.1

        I think his greater motivation will be seeing his political movement survive his tenure. He knows full well that means bringing the next generation through.

        There has been literally nothing that Winston has done within NZF to support this assertion. Every single instance of stepping out of line, or displaying independent critical thought, has been ruthlessly quashed.

  11. Tautuhi 11

    Labour is the party that has to get its sh*t together for the next Election, sometimes you wonder if John Key also controls the Labour Party, the way they shoot themselves in both feet at the same time?

  12. Sacha 12

    Would Peters be capable of sitting on the crossbenches and voting policy by policy for or against a Labour&Greens government? He’d always be in the media that way and wouldn’t have to share power, though the perks would be lacking.

    • cogito 12.1

      “He’d always be in the media that way”

      Winston’s not the one who wants to “always be in the media”! LOL. That’s that other fella who climbs into cages, sings out of tune and embarrasses himself on catwalks. And it seems to run in the family too, with his kids parading themselves at every opportunity like some kind of cheap reality show.

    • weka 12.2

      Does that preclude confidence and supply?

  13. pat 13

    here’s a thought….wait for the only poll that matters.

  14. Colonial Viper 14

    Need a Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      Just so long as we included the power of recall for the people so as to remove a government when needed.

  15. Pascals bookie 15

    I reckon you’re a bit daft if you think Northland has out of the blue become a fortress for Winston regardless of who he chooses to go with.

    They voted for him because it was safe to do so, ie it wasn’t going to change the govt. You might remember the ‘circumstances that it’s not legal to discuss’. Winston openly campaigned on ‘sending the Nats a message’ and ‘keeping them honest’, not ‘throwing them out’. That seat remains blue and if he wants to keep it, and I suspect he does, he’ll go with the Nats.

    Beyond that National are going to have more seats than Labour, and it will be a more ‘simple’ coalition. The idea that it’s a lock he’d go with Labour is deeply wrong, and a worrying trap if people in Labour circles start thinking it, let alone believing it.

    the easiest voters for Labour to get right now are NZF voters. And it shouldn;t try to get them by copying Winston, but by differentiating themselves from him. Don’t try and get left wing NZF voters by doing things Winston’s voters trust him on, lure them with the thinngs they don’t trust him on. Like ‘which way he’ll go after the election’.

    • swordfish 15.1

      On Northland:

      Disagree that the electoral logic has Winnie heading in the Nats direction.

      Winnie owes his By-Election victory first and foremost to a quite stunning degree of strategic voting by Opposition voters – and only secondly to a smallish minority of the most disgruntled / softly-aligned / just plain fed up Tories. Needs to keep both if he’s interested in holding on to the seat past 2020 (but, then, that’s a BIG “If”).

      Head Labour’s way = and he may lose his winning margin in Northland from that Tory minority.
      But, Head National’s way = and he burns the core of his support-base in the seat (I’d say roughly half his support came from Labour and Green voters and another quarter from NZF voters – very quick calculation – don’t quote me on that).*

      If he just wants it until retirement in 2020 then he’ll simply do what he always does – play his cards close to his chest / perpetual coyness / chaste modesty – then post-Election quite possibly head in Labour’s direction (if they have the numbers) in 2017, knowing that he’ll retire 2020 anyway.

      * Admittedly, there is always the possibility of the Nats doing a deal where they don’t campaign openly for the seat (Ohariu/Epsom style)

      • Pascals bookie 15.1.1

        If he goes with national though, and delivers goodies to the seat, he could get that lock on it though, no?

        the coalition of tactcal voters is nothing like a majority eh?

  16. Roflcopter 16

    Night after Election:

    Winston will talk to National as the biggest party on the night.

    Bill English won’t care what happens, because he will probably retire sometime during the next term, so he’ll be happy just with being Finance Minister (or Revenue Minister as he winds down) again.

    Winston will get offered Deputy PM and Revenue Minister (or Finance Minister if Bill winds down), and a cushy posting somewhere because he won’t stand 2020… he’ll take it.

    As Winston, and the other parties, always says… we may not get all we want in an MMP environment, so we discard some ideas and water down others to make it work… it’s an easy out for Winston as justification for going with National.

    It doesn’t matter what you see in NZF’s manifesto…. in the end, Winston wants what’s good for Winston.

    • cogito 16.1

      Winston Deputy PM in a 4th term Nat govt with Key as his boss….? I’m no expert, but I don’t think the chemistry between Key and Winston would ever work. Absolute chalk and cheese. There would need to be a new Nat leader, and a different tone. Even so, I think Winston would prefer to be associated with creating a fresh govt that delivered something new to NZers, not a 4th term tired line-up of arrogant liars.

      • mpledger 16.1.1

        Key won’t mind because he’ll be retire after 6 months and Winnie will come through as PM because there’ll be so much infighting amongst the Nats that Winnie will be the choice that displeases Nats the least.

    • Colonial Viper 16.2

      It doesn’t matter what you see in NZF’s manifesto…. in the end, Winston wants what’s good for Winston.


      But you got the details all wrong.

      At this late stage in his career, Winston wants to leave a lasting legacy in NZ politics.

      That’s about making NZ First a lasting, substantial player going forward.

      Not knifing his own party in the back by becoming John Key’s poodle.

      • Roflcopter 16.2.1

        That’s about making NZ First a lasting, substantial player going forward.
        Not knifing his own party in the back by becoming John Key’s poodle.

        That is inconsistent with Winston wanting what’s good for Winston…. seriously, he doesn’t care one bit about post-Winston NZF.

        • Colonial Viper

          Winston is into legacy building now, something which will last longer than his few remaining years in Parliament.

      • Roflcopter 16.2.2

        Also C.V, here’s a patsy for you…

        Do you honestly believe that Winston can build a lasting legacy based on the state of Labour currently? Nothing is going to change if they win.

    • Tautuhi 16.3

      Winston won’t touch National with a barge pole at the end of the day however he will enter into negotiations with them to test the lie of the land, if Key offers him the PM position he may bend?

    • Tautuhi 16.4

      Winston is and has been the only honest politican around for a longtime, if the corrupt Winebox Enquiry had delivered an honest positive result we would not have the dishonest politicans we have today?

      • Refelusion 16.4.1

        And the Owen Glenn fiasco, honest ?

      • Chuck 16.4.2

        You are so wrong…Winston is far from the “only honest politician”. He is one of the worst…what he is thought is a very good career politician that if he used it for good could of been the first Maori PM. What a waste…

  17. James 17

    The thing that always amazes me is that so many people will vote for Winston – with no idea at all what way he will be going. Are you voting for a Little led government, or a Key led government.

    Most people would have a preference one way or the other – yet ‘leave it to Winston’ to decide.

    Its a really interesting dynamic.

  18. TC 18

    Time to construct a narrative in short slogans that articulate a vision people will get out and vote for you over.

    Relying on peters is foolish

  19. Tautuhi 19

    Both National and Labour have been hopeless over the past 30-40 years, Winston has stood the test of time and has the experience to get NZ out of the mess National and Labour have got the country into. Winston and NZF are basically the only alternative.

  20. Brutus Iscariot 20

    Have to say that this beatification of Winston on a left wing blog is rather amusing.

    Say what you like, but Winston is an old tory (in the real sense, not the inaccurate one thrown around here). He is the reactionary throwback that opposes national’s neoliberalism and internationalism. Which makes him an interesting ally, but one that you’ll have to handle with care.

  21. DS 21

    I suspect the deal Peters would offer National would be John Key’s head. Whether National would do that is another matter.

  22. Smilin 22

    see National as nothing more than US foreign policy in the Pacific region and Winston will romp home with the Greens and Labour

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