One of the great conundrums of Kiwi politics is the Peters problem. Unless there is a massive drop in votes for National, Labour will need NZ First’s assistance to form the next government. And that support will almost certainly come at the expense of the Greens, who are likely to be sidelined as part of any coalition arrangement.
But can we trust Peters to go with Labour?
Well, the answer is an unequivocal no. Winston will do what’s best for Winston. He’s already let the country down once in a similar scenario.
In 1996, NZ First hinted broadly that they would look to bring the National Government down. After an arrogant and lengthy display of gamesmanship, Winston eventually announced he would instead prop the Nats up.
However, the circumstances are different these days. NZ First’s policies are so in tune with Labour’s they could have been spawned in the same think tanks. Winston Peters and Andrew Little seem to get along fine and I’m told the back benches of both parties have a useful working relationship in opposition.
I’m also firmly of the belief that Winston still wants revenge for National’s successful campaign in 2008 to remove NZ First from Parliament. I’m sure Winston would have loved to have been the one to end John Key’s political career, but that opportunity has gone. I reckon he’ll settle for burying Bill English instead.
So, should we help NZ First?
NO, NO, NO!
Andrew Little is a great deal maker and superb team builder . He’s shown that as a unionist and as a politician. However, if NZ First out poll the Greens, even marginally, he’ll have the upper hand in negotiations.
Don’t think it can’t happen, folks. Any deterioration of National’s vote is likely to head Winston’s way. NZF12%, Greens 11 is not an unlikely outcome. NZ First now have a core vote of around 8-9% and siphoning 2% from the Nats and 1% from Labour is entirely possible.
And, of course, the fundamental risk remains that Winston will go the Tory way. And even if he goes with Labour, sidelining the Greens will lead to a weaker Little led Government. Our damaged country really needs the Greens to be in a position to lead the rescue of our environment. Ministerial posts outside cabinet won’t really do that.
Winston told me recently that he didn’t trust the Greens.
“They’ll sell you down the river for a snail” was his withering summary.
If he sticks to that cynical approach, then coalition building is going to be mighty difficult for the left. My advice is don’t help NZ First and certainly don’t vote for them.
However, if you can influence a conservative voter to switch from National to NZ First, go for it. The worse National do, the better.
If the nightmare scenario of a Nat/NZ First government actually happens, lets just hope it end in tears when Winston gets sick of playing second fiddle in English’s orchestra.
One thing about Winston; he demands absolute loyalty from his MP’s and staff. However, he rarely feels that the same standard applies to himself when he’s in Government.
Whether he goes with Labour or the Tories, Winston wins.
The question is whether the rest of us lose.