Winston Peters? I barely know him

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, October 9th, 2023 - 46 comments
Categories: act, chris bishop, Christopher Luxon, election 2023, john key, national, nz first, same old national, winston peters - Tags:

It seems fitting that National’s carefully choreographed and hugely resourced campaign of three years trying to make us all grumpy and vote for change should have crashed onto the rocks known as Winston Peters.

It all started to go wrong when during the second leader’s debate Christopher Luxon said that he did not know Winston Peters.

There are primeval sludge at the bottom of Lake Taupo that feed on volcanic vents that know all about Winston.

After all he has been a feature of New Zealand politics for a long time.  He was previously a National MP and managed to get elected by persuading the authorities not to count votes even though a clear intention was indicated.

He toured the country in 1996 asking for people to vote for his party so that they could then change the Government.  He then chose to keep National in power, the negotiations being appropriately resolved over bottles of whisky.

His party fell apart and he was subsequently consigned to the cross benches.

In 2005 Labour chose to go into coalition with him and handled him very well by making him Foreign Affairs Minister, meaning that he was out of the country most of the time.

John Key had the measure of Peters.  He refused to work with him.

Labour did go with Peters in 2017.  The country needed a break from National’s toxic handling of the country and the decline had to be addressed.

He was more of a handbrake than a help but did support Labour in its Covid response, remarkable really given his recent cooker tendencies and the calibre of some of his candidates.

So the only question raised by Luxon’s statement is where has he been?

Which brings us to the current day and a series of inept campaign decisions by National.

Christopher Luxon kicked things off by saying a couple of weeks ago that he would pick up the phone and call Winston if he had to.

National then helicoptered John Key to say essentially that they would rather hammer nails into their hands than ring Winston.  Chosing Key to deliver the message was clearly tactical.  Using Key to make this statement would have enraged Peters more given the state of their relationship.

Then over the weekend National really made it messy by talking about the possibility of a new election if Winston negotiates too hard.

Maybe they wanted to change the subject away from their misleading advertising which suggested $250 tax cuts per fortnight for all to address cost of living pressures when it emerged that only 0.18% of families would benefit.

But you have to question if it is helping.

From Jane Patterson at Radio New Zealand:

National’s campaign chairperson Chris Bishop upped the ante on Sunday, telling the NZ Herald of a “very real and growing possibility” of a hung Parliament – either as a result of the three parties being unable to agree, or an even split of seats between the left and right.

“We are concerned there would be an inability to strike a deal in the interests of the country,” Bishop said, “and that would necessitate, essentially, a second election.

“We will pick up the phone if we have to and try to make it work. But there is a real possibility of the necessity of a second election and it’s a growing one, unless people cast a strong vote for change.”

Winston responded in a particularly Winston way:

Peters was disparaging, saying NZ First had “come to the conclusion that Chris Bishop has made these comments by mistake”.

“These very concerning comments must be an unfortunate misunderstanding because suggesting the National Party would start scaremongering and threatening to ignore the will of the people on Election Day and ignore the need of our country to form a stable government would be highly troubling to voters.

“It is telling voters National would instead enforce another costly election on the nation purely because of their own political expediency.

The sense of the right being the real coalition of chaos is highlighted by ACT stating that its referendum on the incorrect interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi is a bottom line for any coalition negotiation.

If the situation was not so serious it would be comical.

If National lose this election I expect the repercussions from within its caucus and from its wealthy funders will be brutal.  It is not too early to get your popcorn ready.

46 comments on “Winston Peters? I barely know him ”

  1. PsyclingLeft.Always 1

    Well summed MS ! The Nats need to be hit with Coalition of Chaos….at every possible moment ! I can see them imploding with every passing hour.

    Labour,Green, Te Pati Maori are the only rational way forward.

    Cmon Left !

  2. James Simpson 2

    There is no real path to victory for either left or right without Winston's seal of approval.

    Very depressing state of affairs really.

    • observer 2.1

      A detailed and well-researched article by Audrey Young in today's NZ Herald suggests otherwise. (I've only seen the print version).

      She makes a credible case for the left's chances (not great but not zero) if NZF are not there. Worth reading.

      • observer 2.1.1

        I've copied Young's numbers from a tweet. Scenario (based on current poll of polls):

        Labour rises by 2.1% – Greens rise by 1% – National falls by 1% – ACT drops 1% – NZ First drops 1% – TPM unchanged.

        So, no Winston. High wasted vote and 2 blocs even.

        Margin of error territory.

        (Again, I accept the chance is not high, but many elections have seen similar results to confound the commentators).

  3. Mike the Lefty 3

    Appropriate picture. Luxon will lead a cavalier government, with a cavalier attitude to the environment, the poor and the disadvantaged.

    And like the cavaliers of the English Civil War, their undoing will be their inability to work with each other. Each one wants to lead the charge, not to be second.

    • Obtrectator 3.1

      In the Civil War, the Cavaliers relied on physicians, wedded to outdated techniques and theories, to tend the wounded after a battle. The Parliamentarians preferred the more practically-minded surgeons, who trusted the science. Guess who came out better.

      (But it needs to be added that both sides were essentially backward-looking in their political aims. The consequent revolutionary changes came about by accident rather than design.)

    • Joy 3.2

      Or like Capt. Pugwash, completely inept and constantly needing to be rescued from himself by his underlings.

  4. Peter 4

    The sacred ‘will of the people?’

    The will of the politicians beats that hands down.

    Like if a couple of weeks back some MPs had manipulated private information about Peters to become public and it came to a Winston decision about which party were to be in government, what would his attitude be?

  5. barry 5

    Winston would need to have some leverage, and if the only path to a government is to support NAT/ACT then Winston will probably take what he can get. Foreign Minister and a cabinet post for Shane Jones, along with no change to the age of super may be enough. National can even use him as cover for not getting the foreign buyers tax in place (maybe increasing GST instead). The animosity between Seymour and Peters is probably shadow boxing anyway.

    On the other hand if the left(ish) block can get parity or better with NAct then it might be an option for NZ1st to support them or abstain on confidence/supply and leave other initiatives to individual vote. It would be another 3 years of no change, but the changes of this current term will persist. Of course there could be private members bills for things like 3strikes etc that would be uncomfortable,but Labour could threaten a new election if anything too outrageous was on the table.

  6. AB 6

    A year ago I would have said that we had worked out a distinctively Kiwi way of making MMP work. There were still two large parties, each with a limited number of ideologically-compatible small parties as potential coalition partners. Coalition-forming was practical and flexible with multiple options: formal coalition, Ministers outside cabinet, or just confidence & supply. Governments had been stable, lasted their full terms, had been able to enact much of the legislative programme of their constituent parties, and there had been no second elections straight after a General – and really no significantly early elections either.

    In this now in jeopardy? Are the National Party and it's business supporters so radicalised that they begin to resemble the US Republicans in being prepared to put a (metaphorical) bomb under the system? After all, getting a stonking win from calling another election weeks after the General and simultaneously putting MMP back on the chopping block (as Sanctuary suggested not long ago) would be a great outcome for them.

  7. Louis 7

    "Then over the weekend National really made it messy by talking about the possibility of a new election if Winston negotiates too hard."

    "A reminder that, if a hung Parliament results, any decision to dissolve for a fresh election lies with the (incumbent) Prime Minister and, then, is subject to the caretaker convention— thus requiring majority support of MPs."

    • observer 7.1

      Yet again we are poorly served by our political correspondents, who repeated Bishop's assertions without even a rudimentary understanding of the roles of PM and Governor-General.

      The "rules" (conventions) were established in the first MMP election, 1996. The G-G basically said "let the politicians keep talking, it's up to them to sort it out". It took 2 months back then. It's never been that long since.

      The leader of the opposition does not announce an election. Something Luxon's uninformed interviewers might want to point out to him, and more importantly, the public.

  8. Ngungukai 8

    With Winston and NZF probably going to get 8-9% we will probably have a Minority Government in power after the negotiations are over. With Winston holding a Confidence and Supply Agreement

    • Louis 8.1

      A lot of 'ifs' in there, but that may not happen either.

    • Mike the Lefty 8.2

      If NZ First get that much then Winston will be deputy PM and Seymour will be throwing his toys out of the cot.

  9. Adrian 9

    If they call an election because they are incompetent losers it is not a great platform to go to the people on, they would be dog tucker

    BTW, can anybody remember “ Bugger the pollsters “. I’ve got a feeling.!!!

    • observer 9.1

      They can't call an election.

      It is simply not going to happen before Xmas anyway. There is a process to go through, and even IF a potential minority government is voted down, Parliament doesn't just stop.

      The caretaker PM can continue until he goes to the G-G and says "I give up". No way Hipkins would ever do that.

      • Belladonna 9.1.2

        My understanding is that Hipkins, as the leader of the caretaker government, would be the one to go to the GG and declare that no government could be formed. He could only do this with the support of the house (i.e. more than 61 MPs have to vote for this).

        NB: parliament can sit with no government formed – indeed, legally it has to within 6 weeks of the election results being declared.

        I don't know what the temptation would be to let the situation linger on (even if/when Luxon declared he was unable to form a government, and the left lacked the numbers to do so). Would Peters vote for a new election? (not likely, I'd have thought); so you'd need Labour and/or Greens to vote with National/ACT to call a new election.

        While there might, in theory, be benefits for Labour in drawing out the process. If it becomes obvious they are doing so – it may not be a good look. And, being the caretaker government is no sinecure. They wouldn’t be able to pass any legislation (no majority) but would be blamed for everything that goes wrong (hospital waiting list blow outs, etc.)

        IIRC, the quickest there's ever been an unscheduled (i.e. snap election) is something like 45 days after the announcement. It takes time to print forms, set up polling places, hire staff, etc. So no election before Christmas. And almost certainly not over January. If it goes ahead, I'd say we're looking at a February election.

    • Mike the Lefty 9.2

      I remember.

      He said it.

      They laughed.

      The last laugh was on them!

  10. Mike the Lefty 10

    The prospect of the NACT/NZ First unholy alliance winning power would be enough even for Mr Cool Midday Report Financial editor Giles Beckford to hold his head in his hands and wonder how the f… did we get to this situation?

    • James Simpson 10.1

      I don't think it will get to that situation. Winston doesn't share power with either ACT or the Greens. Never has, never will.

      We will have one of two things:

      • a minority Nat NZF government, with C&S support from ACT; or
      • a minority Lab NZ First government with C&S support from Greens and TMP (which is back to the 2017 government in essence).

      If the parties can't agree one of those then Chippy will have no real choice but to head back to the polls

      • SPC 10.1.1

        Except that both Peters and Hipkins have ruled out ever forming a coalition.

        Which means the real alternatives are on current polls

        1.NACT/NZF coalition – after 3 years of negotiations or a quick deal (3 months) that falls apart within 18 months

        2.A National minority government with 2 support partners

        3.A Labour minority government with 2 support partners and c and s from NZF.

        Some hope for alternatives

        4.NACT coalition government, which would be worse than the above

        5.A Labour minority government with 2 support partners

        6.A Labour/Green coalition with one support partner

        7.A Labour/Green/TPM coalition government

        It's not clear Labour could/would meet the expectations of Greens and TPM for a formal coalition.

  11. SPC 11

    Let it rip covid (2017-2020) under a market and capital first and working people second National government would have been a disaster. Peters got that one right.

    But this time Peters noted some stress coming out from lockdown to face a period of rising costs (in fact global) so decided to join the anti-government line (including the right running their settler nativism operation as per 2005).

    So he's lined up with the NACT combine and a 1996-1999 reprise – his first big mistake becomes his last.

    The Herald got away with their winter of discontent hate of the worker campaign in 2001 and their malevolent anyone but a Labour-Green coalition in 2005 (Kiwi and not iwi settler nativism), but will they survive presenting/promoting us with a NACT gated community regime or will those born since 1984, bury their rotting zombie corpse.

  12. pat 12

    In 5 days there will be no need to pointlessly speculate.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 12.1

      The time you enjoy wasting [pointlessly speculating] is not wasted time smiley

      Do Not Waste Time Worrying About Wasting Time

      The Value of Time You Spend Your Way is Immeasurable

    • AB 12.2

      no need to pointlessly speculate

      Except in houses if NACT win. And it won't be pointless – asset price inflation is the NACT definition of "a strong economy".

      • pat 12.2.1

        Perhaps, if National form a government that maintains their announced policy, then again maybe not. Either way it is an exercise in hope above impact…there have already been (likely by the end of today) around 25% of the votes have been cast.

    • SapphireGem 12.3

      Sure. But this is a forum where people enjoy speculating and discussing possible scenarios. It's interesting and thought-provoking for many even if you find it pointless. No one’s forcing you to read the comments here smiley

    • SPC 12.4

      There will be speculation for weeks or months over the nature of the new government and its policies …

  13. SapphireGem 13

    Another article highlighting Luxon's confused, desperate position when it comes to Peters:

    From said article: "[Thomas Coughlan]said Christopher Luxon has been “exposed” for a “strategic error” in saying he would work with Peters post-election, which has since seen a rise in NZ First’s polling while National has stalled and Act has dropped.

    “He is desperately trying to pour cold water on that and distancing himself from himself, and being as clear as he can that he does not want to work with Winston Peters… Coughlan said Hipkins’ priority would be continuing to highlight that alternative government to turn around their “narrow path to victory”.

    'He’s really trying to sell this ‘buyer beware’ message, which I think is a clever one, as there are significant amounts of concern around what that government could look like.'"

  14. georgecom 14

    Hipkins call to rule out Winston First and then challenge Luxon to do the same was a cunning move. It's created no end of trouble for Luxon and lots of rancour from seymour

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