New Zealand First has now been cleared by the Police or any illegal behaviour. That’s three from three but too late.
I’ve never had a lot of love for Peters. Yes, economically NZF is left-wing and they were an important bulwark against the neoliberal revolution. Yes, he’s a cheeky bugger and often hilarious, and its hard to not personally like the guy. Yes, he has made a number of very worthwhile policy successes (free GP visits for under 6s, more cops, etc) and NZF has arguably been, pound for pound, the most successful party under MMP. But, in my opinion, social conservatism and xenophobia has stained his record, and I won’t be sad to see him out of Parliament.
However, that doesn’t justify the unprecedented attack on Peters from the media, egged on by the right-wing parties and their allies. It seems to me far too many journalists who had been made fun of or criticised by Peters over the years saw this as their chance for revenge and took it. The Right’s lines were swallowed far too readily. As Gordon Campbell wrote: “The final lingering image of the privileges committee investigation of Winston Peters was an apt one – a scrum of journalists gathered round Rodney Hide afterwards, virtually begging to be spun”
And the Right’s strategy has worked. There is no chance now of New Zealand First getting over 5% of the vote, and very little of Peters winning Tauranga. For all its faults, NZF didn’t deserve to be killed this way but it has been.
So, what’s an NZF voter to do? Vote Labour or Green. Don’t waste your vote on NZF and don’t give it to one of the parties that smeared Peters so thoroughly. Now, voting for a Labour-led government might not seem like a natural fit for NZF voters but consider the alternative is National and ACT. And also consider that if you don’t vote against National and ACT, their dirty campaign against NZF will have won.