The Antinomies of Winston Peters

2 Apr

The dust is settling. Bar some strange action against Focus NZ for advertising people to vote Winston, the election is settled. Settling. The Northland by-election will be remembered in NZ political folklore for some time. Not just because the Herald insist on the word byelection. No its the election that seems to justify whatever proposition and question you hold. Yet at the same time its the election that possibly gives nothing. Try some of the common themes.

National got a bloody nose. – undoubtedly true. The most embarrassing by-election under MMP for any government and probably for any party. Heartland National turned away. But it’s not reflected in national polling. It was a real local message. The line up of the scandal and cover up over Sabin, a poor choice of MP due to some local politics, a slow star and the throwing of national money at local projects, add the only politician outside of the Government with real name recognition and it all goes sour. Brand Winston. I doubt it will ever be repeated in my lifetime ( im not that old either before you start). Key is undoubtedly watching his Government go downhill, the wheels wobbled during the 2014 election and Key is in his untrustworthy on his way to the door phase. But Northland might not accelerate that.

It was a message to the Government. I’m not convinced. Winston’s dog whistles to send them a message is muddled. He’s more engrained in Wellington’s political culture than just about any politician around. He’s as likely to prop up a National Government in 2017 than a Lab-Green. He picks fights with the Conservatives/United Future/Greens and ACT.This wasn’t the Greek elections.

The opposition is coming together. I find this wishful thinking, putting an agenda and narrative to an event with no real logic. The greens didn’t stand but I never saw them advocate for a vote for anyone, let alone NZF. A strong NZF is a big risk to the Greens. Andrew Little fell in line when he realised the voters had switched. It wasn’t the first polls but the second ones which nudged him..even if he said don’t do it, the vote was going Winston’s way. Winston who has been rude and derogatory about Labour voters only last year. Winston the scaremonger, the anti-Asian. Does this bring together the progressive left ?

Winston is on the left. Bollocks. How on earth do people see this. Yes he’s an interventionist but so was Muldoon. Only the rabid right really moan about Muldoon being a socialist. One for Bob Jones and Richard Prebble I imagine. The left may need the numbers Winston brings but he’s a conservative through and through.

I can’t ever see the Northland experience being repeated, and at a general election it will be difficult. Can you think of any other politician who could pull this off in say Southland ? I can’t see Shane Jones riding in…or Dover Samuels…both of whom seem to be vying for Winstons heritage.




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