In 2007, 113 MPs voted for the Bradford amendment to s59 of the Crime Act. Eight voted against it. One of them was Winston Peters.
Flash forward to 2009. The referendum has shown widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo – it’s dissatisfaction based on myths but the dissatisfaction is real. And neither of the major parties are providing satisfaction.
All those people who liked Labour’s social-democratic economic management but not their liberalism on social issues who went over to National haven’t got what they expected from Key. They got a rightwing economic agenda rather than the Labour-lite they expected and National won’t undo Labour’s biggest ”nanny state’ policy. National, whose MPs were out helping get signatures on the referendum petition won’t even back Boscawen’s bill to select committee.
There’s Winston’s opening. Just like with the foreshore and seabed issue, National has moved into Labour’s traditional space and Labour is there too. There’s a gap in National’s traditional conservative space.
I reckon we’ll see New Zealand First running it’s classic three prong campaign: foreshore and seabed, smacking, and some good old-fashioned economic nationalism.
Can Winston pull it off? Maybe. The sins of the past will be forgetten by then. The party must be in tatters but that doesn’t matter too much, its always been about Winston. If Winnie can play the battler, the voice for the people that the major parties won’t listen to, once again, he might just be able to get 5%.
Ultimately, though, I hope not. The votes would come from National and it would put the cat among the pigeons. But we don’t need Winnie holding the balance of power again.