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New Zealand’s Electoral Wild Card

Written By: - Date published: 10:34 am, January 18th, 2011 - 26 comments
Categories: election 2011, nz first - Tags:

In his column in the Herald on Sunday, Matt McCarten doesn’t give a very flattering thumbnail sketch of New Zealand First Leader, Winston Peters.

….in 1996 when Winston Peters went fishing instead of attending coalition talks. Then he jumped into bed with the National Party after consistently indicating through the election campaign he’d go with Labour.

Reading this unflattering portrayal of Winston Peters, by Matt McCarten, reminded me of Matts assertion two weeks ago, in an article on the minor parties(HOS Jan. 2, 2011)that in his opinion New Zealand First, along with the Greens and the Maori Party will join a Labour led administration.

“I certainly have no doubt Peters will go with Labour if he gets in.”

Matt McCarten HOS Sunday Jan 2, 2011

In my opinion this would be a risky bet. Personally I wouldn’t put money on it.

A more likely result would be Matt’s other assertion in the same column, that the Maori Party would join a Labour led coalition. This is because the Maori Party policy direction is much more membership driven, compared to New Zealand First which is more autocratic, top down driven.

“The Maori Party may well be the kingmakers after election day. Although their supporters currently give them the benefit of the doubt given National doesn’t rely on their vote to keep them in government, this will change after the next election – particularly if their vote will determine who the government will be. I have little doubt grassroots pressure will make it likely they’ll throw in their lot with Labour.”

HOS Sunday Jan 2, 2011

In the same article Matt McCarten also pointed out that no future Labour led coalition is possible without including the Greens.

But, at a similar crossroads after the 2005 election, Peters demanded as a condition of his party’s support of a Labour led coalition that the Greens be excluded.

Going further back, as Matt pointed out this week. After waging an electoral campaign in opposition to the Bolger National government. To everyone’s astonishment Winston Peters then gave his party’s confidence and supply to a minority Bolger National Government even though the Labour Party had far more votes than the Nats.

This usurpation of the democratic will of the electorate, by Peters of course is now history. But what about today?

Today Peter’s Party is strongly in the camp of the the global warming deniers. In politics nothing is certain, and there is always a possibility that NZ First may change their position on global warming, but until that happens, there can be no accommodation of the two parties, (Greens and NZ First), in the same coalition. This will be another pointer in the direction of which the New Zealand First party will give their support.

Added to all this, is Peters demonstrated personal penchant for the “baubles of office”. So whoever can give him the most prestigious government office either inside or outside of cabinet, may also influence who gets his party’s support.

On the other hand:

The New Zealand First Party has been titled a “populist party”. This is not automatically a bad thing. To gather electoral support New Zealand First has in the past championed ‘populist causes’ that have been of real benefit to flax roots New Zealanders. Like a demand to raise the minimum wage which they extorted out of the Nats, to the very popular “Gold Card” which was part of their confidence and supply agreement with the Clark government.

So what ‘populist’ concessions will NZF be seeking to wring from this year’s coalition negotiations?

As looks likely, Tax will be the big election issue.

In the Past NZF has campaigned against GST on petrol.

Is this still a goer?

In my opinion, at the very least, NZF will have to give public campaign support to the Labour Party’s call for the removal of GST off fresh fruit and vegetables. If NZF don’t publicly support this measure in the lead up to the election, then this will be another indication of who NZF will be giving their support to after the elections.

This is because the National Party is decidedly against removing GST from fruit and veg. and would never concede to this demand in coalition negotiations with NZF.

If NZ First do decide to support removing GST off fruit and veg. it might be in their interest to go even further.

Because if NZF stop there, why wouldn’t people who support this measure just simply vote Labour?

To pick up with the grumpy/disillusioned vote and to show differentiation from Labour, NZF could benefit with an increase in voter support with a campaign to repeal the GST rise to 15%. This would not only have the benefit of differentiating NZF from the Labour Party, but the National Party as well, as both the major parties are determined to maintain the 15% increase, despite the hard ship this has caused at the bottom of society.

Possibly, also if NZ First do decide to go further and to tap into their core support base as the party that was created around a populist campaign against big business corruption and tax avoidance. NZF may even be favour the idea of a Financial Transactions Tax levelled on all banking transactions.

These two campaign planks are a logical offshoot of each other, because calling for a cut in GST alone, would leave the government accounts in serious deficit.

To remedy this deficit and make up for the loss in government revenue caused by repealing the GST increase, a FTT would be necessary and would be deliver more than enough to cover the loss. Countering the supporters of GST rise, who argue that GST is very hard for big business tax cheats to avoid, but an FTT is also very hard to avoid, and is even more easily detectable than GST evasion.

Again, as well as being extremely popular, calling for a Financial Transaction Tax would also differentiate NZF from both Labour and National.

So what should those other parties opposed to a second term of National led government be doing to court New Zealand First?


Obviously the Labour Party should be lobbying NZ First to come out publicly in support of removing GST from fresh fruit and veg. By getting NZ First to agree to this, would put NZF beyond the reach of any agreement with the Nats. (at least on this issue), Making a coalition with NZ First and Labour much more likely, than a back room stitch up with the Nats.


The Greens should also be lobbying NZ First to try and find some common ground.

Obviously talks around the evidence of global warming should be at the centre of this outreach.

The Greens should in a spirit of friendship enquire if they could give an address on this issue to the next NZF conference to explain their stance, and answer NZF members concerns and worries over global warming.

If New Zealand First is not open to any friendly overtures coming from Labour, or the Greens then this will be a further indication of where NZ First will be putting their coalition support after the election.

In this case it behoves these parties to announce to the electorate that a vote for NZ First will be a vote for National.


26 comments on “New Zealand’s Electoral Wild Card ”

  1. Bill 1

    I remember being utterly astonished in ’96 by people who assumed Peters would go with Labour. At the time, I read his camaign literature and was reminded of the UK Tories. But that, seemingly, was just me.

    As for the Nats and NZ First, do you really think Peters would jump into bed with Act after the hatchet job they did on him last election?

    I’m guessing Peters will either sit on the cross benches if he can’t exclude the Greens, or sit with Labour if he can. Or then, given his penchant for shiney things, he might sit with Labour if he can merely lessen the influence of the Greens and the Moari Party.

    edit. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t really matter which rag-tag bag of a coalition is formed while we have both parliamentary wings enacting variations of the same core neo-liberal policies – does it?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      At the end of the day though, it doesn’t really matter which rag-tag bag of a coalition is formed while we have both parliamentary wings enacting variations of the same core neo-liberal policies – does it?

      Nope, as long as the politicians continue to support the failed socio-economic paradigm that is capitalism then majority of people will become poorer while the rich become richer sucking up all the wealth needed for a sustainable and just society.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    NZ First will be the kiss of death for any party that dares to associate with it. Labour got its fingers burnt last time, and JK is not keen. So, NZ First may well not be a factor in any coalition deal.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    He hasn’t changed his position. All he has said is that he will wait and see what eventuates with NZ First before making any decision on the matter this time around. At that stage NZ First hadn’t declared its hand, so there wasn’t any point in stating a position on hypotheticals. IMO the smart political thing to do would be to rule NZ First out again for the same reasons as last time.

    This will give voters a clear alternative: A national government, or a Labour coalition with NZ First pulling the strings and causing all sorts of dramas as happened last time..

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      At that stage NZ First hadn’t declared its hand, so there wasn’t any point in stating a position on hypotheticals. (1) IMO the smart political thing to do would be to rule NZ First out again for the same reasons as last time. (2)

      1) Yes there is. By ruling out a hypothetical scenario you can influence what happens next.

      2) JK has figured that the smart political thing to do is not rule NZ First out. I presume because he wants options to stay in power and doesn’t want to be caught on YouTube again with his promise not to go with GST increases.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.2

      Starter for ten, who’s more popular, NZF, or ACT?

      I’m not sure that the ‘tail wagging loonie party’ fight is one that Key will want to start this year.

  4. Josh 4

    “To everyone’s astonishment Winston Peters then gave his party’s confidence and supply to a minority Bolger National Government even though the Labour Party had far more votes than the Nats.”

    This is incorrect. In 1996, National got 33.87% of the vote. Labour only got 28.19%. Even if Peters had aligned himself with Labour, a Labour-New Zealand First government would have relied on the support of the Alliance. Given the tense relationship between Peters and Anderton, and Anderton’s own difficulty working with the Labour Party, I think this outcome was always going to be unlikely. The fact is that in 1996 Peters was damned which ever way he went. He had already pledged, during the campaign, to speak first with whichever party received the largest share of the votes. In the event, this was National.

    “Today Peter’s Party is strongly in the camp of the the global warming deniers…”

    Despite this, NZF did vote for the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2008. According to the party’s campaign literature: “New Zealand’s trade and international reputation would be damaged if we did not begin to walk the talk with regard to our ‘clean, green’ image.”

    I think some common ground between NZF and the Greens does exist, however, it is more likely to be found in economic policy than environmental policy. Even so, NZF has never been overt in its ‘climate skeptisim’. John Key is on record as saying that climate change is a hoax. Certainly many of its supporters would probably sit in that camp, but I’m unable to find any such public statement from Winston Peters. I would be inclined to think that Peters himself is largely apathetic about the issue. So I doubt it would be a major stumbling block. Social policy was the reason Peters blocked Labour from dealing with the Greens in 2005.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Now lets think about a situation where we forget about global frakin warming for a minute.

      This is about reducing our dependency on foreign oil, reducing our dependency on foreign goods which are made to break, reducing our dependency on wasteful practices for economic growth, ensuring that our elderly (and everyone else) has access to great public transport, making sure that we keep sovereign ownership of our forests and conservation lands.

      Do you think Winston Peters can get behind those issues? What do you think? You know, if you don’t couch it in girly namby pamby ethereal tree hugging Global Warming hippy lingo?

      I reckon he can.

      And so can a bunch of other NZ’ers who currently think that Global Warming is a stinking pseudoscience have for big outfits to make money off.

    • Alwyn 4.2

      You are being quite unreasonable Josh.
      It is simply not allowed to bring mere facts into any political debate on a blog site.
      The way to do it is to simply make wild claims, false or otherwise, and hope people simply don’t remember what REALLY happened.
      We can learn the technique best from Red Alert, from the true master of the genre, Trevor.
      He has never allowed the facts to get in the way of a good rant and neither should you.
      (Actually I was going to point your comment on the real vote myself and was dismayed to see that you had done it first)

      • Carol 4.2.1

        Actually, I find the posters and commenters on The Standard are pretty good supporting their claims with links to evidence and/or where they got the information from. Sometimes people make mistakes, but usually such erros are pointed pointed out to people.

        As for the claim about Red Alertt, especially Trevor Mallard misrepresenting facts…. can you link me to an example, please? My impression is that RA bloggers are pretty good at substantiating their comments.

        • Alwyn

          Try his one on John Key ‘breaking a claimed promise’ in his speech to the memorial service for Pike River. If you read the speech he NEVER promised that they would return the bodies. In fact JK said that they would try and that if the bodies could not be retrieved it would be a beautiful place for them to lie.

          • Colonial Viper

            LOLz mate so you think that a poetic eulogy at a funeral superceedes the commitment Key made to the Pike River families and also in front of all the media?

            You mean to say that Key used the funeral to sneak out of his earlier commitments?

            That’s what I read from your comment. What did you actually mean?

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2

        Another example of a RWNJ distorting reality.

      • Jum 4.2.3


        ‘Nice’ Mr Key changed the words of Helen Clark in her speech of 2000.

        Clark said: “Next time you hear a Tory talk about personal income tax cuts: ask the question, how can our nation go ahead without the public resources to make huge investments in our future potential? Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment IN TODAY’S CIRCUMSTANCES. They are the promises of vision-less and intellectually bankrupt people.

        She did not say – ” Next time you hear a Tory talk about personal income tax cuts: ask the question, how can our nation go ahead without the public resources to make huge investments in our future potential? Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment… They are the promises of A vision-less and intellectually bankrupt people”.

        First John Key altered her words to infer she meant New Zealanders and then Bill English perpetrated the same lie a few days before the 2008 election. They lied then; they are lying now.”

        You want nasty lies and misleading by politicians, Alwyn? Look to your own twisted rightwing side. They are masters at the spin. Joyce must be your guru. He wrote their lying scripts.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      He had already pledged, during the campaign, to speak first with whichever party received the largest share of the votes. In the event, this was National.

      Nope, He’d pretty much indicated that he would go with Labour and not National. I’m pretty sure that he would not have got the votes that he did if that hadn’t been implied throughout his campaign. That’s why he doesn’t get anywhere near that sort of support now.

      • Josh 4.3.1

        Peters refused to explicitly rule out working with National. His public statements, and those of Tau Henare, strongly indicated that NZF would not support a National-led government. But his position in early 1996 was that he would negotiate first with the party which won the largest share of the vote. This was reported in the media on several occasions. As NZF’s popularity rose, Peters genuienly believed he would be in a position to extract the Ninth floor from National. But I do agree that NZF would not have got the support it did if voters had anticipated it would go with National.

  5. “even though the Labour Party had far more votes than the Nats.”

    Incorrect, National had the most votes at 33.87%, Labour had 28.19% at the 1996 general election.
    Labour and NZF would have been unable to govern without the support of the Alliance, another factor in NZF decision to go with National.

  6. Jum 6

    Peters, if he gets a decent number of MPs into Parliament, should stay outside of government and follow his principles he is so fond of espousing. He has done some good things in NZ and deserves recognition for that. I like the man. However, I can never trust that he would support a Labour Government if election numbers left him with the choice of which party would be on the Treasury benches.

  7. Tanz 7

    He would go with National, I bet, and that’s why Key doesn’t dare rule him out (unlike last time). I would actually like to see Peters as PM, because at least he does honour his promises and does have both charisma and political courage, and he truly is right wing. He’s not there just for the sheer fun of it, or for the sake of his ego. I like the man too, we could, and have, done far worse.

    • Jum 7.1

      Yeah, we have done far worse – we’ve got JKeyll.

    • prism 7.2

      Tanz – Peters is a gadfly. He is all out for Winston, first and last. He has charisma but it’s a shallow glossy thing. Whoever he entered a coalition with could rely on him to be unreliable and self interested.

      He did well with the winebox in bringing it to the attention of the public and sticking to it to get an enquiry. But now he is interested mainly in his support base, the oldies, who seem to adore him, and most of the other citizens including Maori, are distant from his view of what NZ needs and wants IMHO.

  8. swimmer 8

    You can’t spell Winston without win! 🙂

  9. Tim 9

    Whether you like Winston or not, one of the things that he is good at is being an opposition MP. What we are seriously missing in parliament at the moment is strong MPs that are scoring some decent hits against the government. There have been ‘moments’ but nothing that has been sustained enough to tarnish the smile and wave government. In many ways National not having to face a NZF opposition in the house has had a much easier run than governments before them!

  10. prism 10

    Tim –
    You are no doubt right about Winston being good in Opposition. Perhaps that is also his main drawback, that he is better in opposition to something than in having a positive and practical vision for all NZs when in a position to achieve that. The baubles of office are there! If he was in Opposition and coalition, much time would go in managing him not the country. Sort of like Jenny Shipley talking to Alamein Kopu each day to keep Shipley’s see-saw government balanced her way, or so the story went.

    Checked on Google (looking artistically attractive today) about Kopu – and found that she swopped around parties to suit herself and IMO Winston has much the same attitudes, with a good line of course re serving the people best in that move.
    signed a pledge affirming that if she ever left the party, she would resign from parliament. Kopu had, in fact, reaffirmed this pledge only a few days before she quit. The leader of the Alliance, Jim Anderton, said that Kopu’s actions “breach[ed] every standard of morality and ethics that are known”.[1]
    Kopu defended her decision by saying that she was only doing what was best for Māori. Upon leaving the Alliance, she also received strong support from several other Māori MPs, notably Tau Henare of the New Zealand First party. Henare, who had often criticised the Alliance’s (and Mana Motuhake’s) approach to Māori affairs, said that Kopu was welcome to join New Zealand First, although this was later rejected by other members of the party. Kopu quickly aligned herself with the governing coalition.

  11. RobertM 11

    Winston Peters and his rag tag bunch of political chancers has done little but harm in his long political career. The permanent removal of Peters, Laws and Mark from the political scene would be immensely beneficial. Essentially Clark had the choice of going into coalition with Winston or Bradford and it was inevitably disastorous, but arguably not as much as the direct rule of Brash, Richard Long the roundtable, treasury and the police federation.
    Peters fundamentally represents white provincial working class and rural towns-these people have far too much power and like Deng in China we should decided to move much of the population of the large rural towns and cities south of Taupo to the major cities. Putting the rural proletariat in housing estates should usefully aid their degeneration and corruption.
    Laws and Annette Kings people are predjudiced, bitter people mainly male who can never be improved, educated or upgraded.
    Human progress depends on urbanisation and allowing the sexual freedom of women from their teenage years. Those who oppose this like the retarded proletariat who speak with Laws on his outrageous talkback version of Fox Tv are the true enemies of society.

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