Who They Gonna Call? If the going gets weird in 2017, the Right will turn to Winston Peters

By   /   April 29, 2016  /   39 Comments

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Ray Parker Jnr’s catchy lyrics to the themesong of the 1984 hit movie, Ghostbusters, have taken on a special resonance in recent days, as a series of extraordinary revelations have further shaken John Key’s already unsettled government.

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IF THERE’S SOMETHING STRANGE in your neighbourhood. If there’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who you gonna call?

Ray Parker Jnr’s catchy lyrics to the themesong of the 1984 hit movie, Ghostbusters, have taken on a special resonance in recent days, as a series of extraordinary revelations have further shaken John Key’s already unsettled government.

Even the beneficiaries of the Auckland housing boom have been sent reeling by the latest batch of astonishing real estate statistics. (Like property speculators accounting for 80% of Otara house sales!) And even dyed-in-the-wool Tories have been caught casting apprehensive glances towards the PM and his lawyer over the status of international trusts. All in all, it’s impossible not to feel (if I may mix my movie references) a “sudden disturbance in the Force”.

If these were normal times, the principal beneficiary of these revelations would have been the dominant Opposition party, Labour. But these are not normal times, and the Labour Party is currently struggling to retain – let alone increase – its level of electoral support.

Such dissatisfaction with the performance of the Government as is being reflected in the polls shows a sharp movement of voters towards Winston Peters’ NZ First Party. According to the Australian-based Roy Morgan polling agency, this shift has lifted NZ First’s numbers by 3.5 percentage points – from 9 percent to 12.5 percent – its highest level of support since 1996.

Peters is a consummate campaigner who has been known to double his support over the course of an election campaign. But, this doubling has usually been off a reasonably low base, just 3-5 percent, not 12.5 percent. If Peters maintains his present level of support into the second half of 2017, and then doubles it over the course of the official election campaign, then both National and Labour will be in all kinds of trouble.

If this is, indeed, the way New Zealand politics trends over the next 18 months, then it will be a reflection of the same sort of popular anger that is currently driving the politics of the United States and Europe. Neither Labour’s Andrew Little, nor the Greens’ James Shaw and Metira Turei, are temperamentally or ideologically suited to the role of embodying the people’s righteous wrath. But Peters has been burnishing his populist credentials for the best part of 40 years. Indeed, there is no one else in the current House of Representatives who comes near him in the populism stakes.

What sort of populist agenda is Peters likely to present to the electorate? Of only one thing can we be absolutely certain, NZ First’s manifesto will not be a coherently left-wing, or right-wing, document. Like the Polish Law and Justice Party that was swept into office at that country’s last election, NZ First will offer policies that offer solace to voters from every part of the Left/Right spectrum. Swingeing attacks on tax evaders – both foreign and domestic – will make Labour look tentative and unconvincing. Equally strong measures, aimed at the Iwi Leaders’ attempts to influence the allocation of water, will draw cheers (and votes) from anxious National supporters.

How well is the extra-parliamentary Left placed to take advantage of this populist surge? The short answer is: very poorly. Peters’ views on race are antithetical to many (if not most) New Zealand leftists. This makes it much more likely that the Left will position itself as Peters’ most aggressive opponent, rather than his covert ally.

The extra-parliamentary Right, on the other hand, is already gearing up to leverage its own policy agenda off NZ First’s likely electoral gains. Kiwi rightists will not be so fastidious as the Left when it comes to dirtying their hands in the muddy gloop of populist politics. How much help they are willing to give Peters in return for – say – a raft of “One New Zealand”, “anti-Maori separatist” reforms, remains to be seen. They may, however, be very confident of finding a great many National MPs more than willing to retain power by doing a deal with Winston-the-Kingmaker.

If the 2017 General Election does turn into a populist tsunami, then the New Zealand electorate is likely to be gobsmacked by the people lining-up behind NZ First’s populist banner. What ends up pushing Peters into centre-stage may turn out to be something very weird indeed. And, it will leave us in no doubt whatsoever about who he’s gonna call !

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39 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    The right will turn to Winston?

    If we use the Key Government of right they are now Ultra right and certainly not the old “Conservative” style of right we knew as 14yr olds in the mid 1950s’.

    Right has many faces and styles and this style that is often labelled as “arrogant” or greedy or selfish, and Winston is definitely not in those categories is he?

    Modern NZ First is simply a middle of the road old school part socialist Conservative party with a caring spirit as they above any other spend a lot of energy supporting the aged section of our society as being somewhat similar to the 1950s’ with all those egalitarian values so this modern far right lot won’t really be that eager to join with any part socialist style opposition party would they?

    Anyway we hope you are right as Winston would relish the right voter attraction as a challenge to educate them that to get anything out you need to put something in firstly.

  2. cync says:

    The “something very weird indeed”, may well be, that we have a third credible option. Unlike some of the more backward democracies we align ourselves with.
    All in all, I don’t think he will be picking up the phone, to call any of the failed party constructions. They might just need to call and offer him support, the way they are going.

  3. Doubting Thomas says:

    So Chris, still getting stuck into the left and thereby promoting the neoliberal right-wingers to their uber-exalted position. Time to change the narrative Chris, it isn’t working and it hasn’t for the last 8 years.

  4. Sam says:

    The right got conned by there own shyster that they themselves voted for……. Oh how delicious

  5. Doubting Thomas says:

    BTW Chris, Winston won’t be leading the NZ First Party, it’ll be Shane Jones. Remember that National supported Shane Jones to be leader over David Cunliffe, then got him a nice little Pacifica sinecure after he was outed?

    What make you think National don’t have a back-up plan with SHane Jones and NZ First?

    • Shona says:

      Shane Jones will never be leader of NZ First. It would be the end of the party.
      The next leader will be Ron Mark. The prospect of having to work with a useless piece of sh** like Jones would drive Ron and many others from the party. You don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Doubting Thomas says:

        Well, Shona, you heard it here first, whether you believe it or not. Do you really think that the ‘brains trust’ in National aren’t already planning for next election now?

        And plans for shoring up support if the Maori Party is decimated and Peter Dunne and David Seymour become [more] irrelevant.

        Do you think they’ll bring back Aaron Gilmore? Or Colin Craig? They might even have a few light blue Labour MP’s lined up to cross the floor and vote with the Natz.

        • I dunno, I feel like Winston knows how to pick a winner, and if Shane Jones’ record in politics shows one thing, it’s that he knows how to make a loser of himself time after time. Winning is not something he ever accomplished as a politician. Why would Winston hitch his wagon to a one-trick phony?

  6. The right might turn to Winston, but Winston will certainly be thinking twice before answering the door. There are a lot of people in New Zealand First who despise National for what they have done to the country – state assets; defunding the police; etc, etc…

    And also, National have been in office for three terms now. We had better hope Labour and the Greens are more functional than they currently are cometh 2017 because history is against National getting a fourth term. This is not a wartime situation, despite what the Pentagon and Obama want people to believe. At least not for New Zealand.

  7. countryboy says:

    Winston Peters is the Machiavellian arsehole who, by confederate stealth, keeps the neo liberal lie alive and kicking.

    Do I need to say that again?

    ‘Sigh’ If you must.

    Winston Peters is the Machiavellian arsehole who, by confederate stealth, keeps the neo liberal lie alive and kicking.

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      Winston Peters is the Machiavellian arsehole who, by confederate stealth, keeps the neo liberal lie alive and kicking.

      Also, most voters haven’t got a clue, and have incredibly short memories.

    • Liberty4NZ says:

      Countryboy, people don’t vote for Winston because he’s great, they vote for him because he is viewed as a lesser evil than the rest.

  8. Doubting Thomas says:

    What’s up Chris – too close to the truth? Or didn’t you think of this first? Or doesn’t it fit the anti-Labour narrative?

  9. Grant says:

    I think the chances of Peters going with National are zero.
    He is a patriot and has way too many long held principals, beliefs and bottom lines for the benefit of N.Z citizens, than to go selling himself to the devil. Hence the party name ‘N.Z First’.
    While the N.Z political landscape has moved significantly to ‘the right’ over the last 30 years Peters has stayed pretty much the same, thus in many ways making him a modern day socialist, (for want of a better word ).
    Holyoaks’ Government was socialist , as was Muldoons, (despite his dictatorial manner), by todays standards.
    Keys’ National Government however is about as toxic as it gets and I can’t see him spending the remaining years of his political life wallowing with a bunch of political ‘low life’ crooks who are also linked to ‘Whaleoil’ let’s not forget.
    It would be an ignominious end for him.
    No . Instead Peters has been biding his time and it’s now close to ‘payback time’ for Key, who shafted him and put him in the political wilderness for 3 years.
    The people who are flocking to him now are the swinging voter patriots ( think, ‘the flag’ ), who have finally realised that Key the illusion is not the same as Key the person , but can’t quite bring themselves to vote directly for Labour.
    I swear I heard him say fairly recently , “I don’t get mad , I just get even.”

  10. earshot says:

    Yeah but it’s very unlikely he would go with them now, have you not seen how he is becoming so popular, it’s because he is taking National apart, making a string of highly successful attacks on them.

  11. CLEANGREEN says:

    True that is Earshot,

    Welcome home Winston, our Warrior from the north!

  12. Mike in Auckland says:

    Election result 2017:

    National 35 percent,
    Labour 25 percent,
    NZ First 20 percent,
    Greens 15 percent,
    Maori Party 2 percent,
    ACT 2 percent,
    MANA 1 percent.

    The above may seem unreal for some at this time, but if the present trends continue, it may actually be quite a possible scenario. Then it will be very, very interesting to see who will be the next government.

    Expect that the housing price bubble in Auckland will finally burst, that immigration will put so many services under stress, it will have to be capped at lower rates, economic growth will slow and become sluggish, as the lack of skilled labour to build the houses in Auckland and also still in Christchurch will impact on construction activity, and dairy prices will remain low for years to come.

    John Key may also be dragged further into the Panama Papers and overseas NZ trust scandal, so he will lose credit, and Judith Collins will finally have the numbers to roll him. She though will not have the same “appeal” to voters as Key had.

    Winston could find all his gloomy warnings proved as being right, and benefit greatly from the looming crisis.

    • Jack Ramaka says:

      Winston Peters NZF is one of the few politicans in NZ who has any credibility left, despite MSM and the opposition parties efforts to smear and destroy him.

      20% at the 2017 Election looks about right for Winston and NZF, Labour really have to get their acts together and develop some sensible coherrant policy rather than be a wannabe National Party, they need some self identity and properly identify who their supporters are.

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        I just watched that interview Lisa Owen had with Andrew Little via Skype or so (on TV3’s The Nation), he speaking from outside a massive refugee camp in Jordan, on the border with Syria.

        So here Andrew went again, on one hand being critical of NZ soldiers having been sent to Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers, who according to his sources have little motivation, on the other hand again calling it “good work” they are doing there.

        He even said the job would not be done by next year, when the PM wants to pull the trainers and troops back out again (if he should for a change stand by what John Key said last year).

        That sounded almost as if Little now accepts there is a role the SAS soldiers do there, and that they should perhaps be training Iraqis for longer.

        At least on the refugee quota he was consistent, saying we should double the annual intake. He thought we have a “world class” refugee centre in Mangere, which though only can handle small numbers.

        There were more general comments he made, which were neither here nor there. Him being there, with that “big man” from Christchurch, I think Brownlee is his name, that in itself raises questions about Labour’s true and clear position on sending NZ soldiers to the Middle East.

        With all this, I and I believe many other viewers, were left wondering, what does Labour actually stand for, yet again?

        If this neither here nor there kind of direction does not change to a more coherent and consistent position and communication, forget 2017.

    • Jack Ramaka says:

      Key will be Donkey Deep in the Panama Papers along with the likes of Fay Richwhite.

      • Kim dandy says:

        Wanted to give you the thumbs up on this comment, but they have disappeared. Key is in up to his neck.

    • fatty says:

      “that immigration will put so many services under stress”

      How’s that? Immigrants contribute greatly to their new economies.

      We have underfunded services since the 1980s – that’s the problem

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        Some people are now protesting against foreign firms exploiting water resources, by getting cheap consents, bottling it and exporting it for nice gains, while places like Ashburton face water restrictions during dry periods.

        That may just be one example how finite resources cannot mean we can continue to have endless immigration gains.

        Or do you want the electricity to be supplied by nuclear power plants here one day, as the hydro and other resources will inevitably reach their limits?

        We already have massive global over population, do we have to follow the rest of the world?

        • fatty says:

          “Some people are now protesting against foreign firms exploiting water resources, by getting cheap consents, bottling it and exporting it for nice gains, while places like Ashburton face water restrictions during dry periods.”

          Yes, that is a concern and something that needs addressing. I would call that natural resources, not ‘services’. When you said services I thought you meant social services such as social housing, welfare, health system etc.

          The privatisation of water in Canterbury needs to be addressed, but for me the problem is dairy farming. Dairy farmers are wrecking Ashburton’s and Canterbury’s water supplies much more than what that new water bottling company will do.

          “That may just be one example how finite resources cannot mean we can continue to have endless immigration gains.”

          I’m still not sure how you make the link to immigration? The privatisation of water is an outcome of our economic system, not our immigration policies.

          If we socialise the profits and privatise the risks (especially in relation to natural resources) then the problem will be solved. We can then put environmental concern at the forefront and all benefit from the profits.

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        Actually I was thinking of the stressed public health services, the early childcare centres, the schools and so forth, who are all struggling now here in Auckland, to meet the increased demand that has resulted from a larger population needing access to them. Add the already widely underfunded mental health services and many other services, lack of infrastructure (the City Rail Link will only solve some problems), and things are not keeping up with what is needed.

        That does of course not mean the new migrants contribute to society, they do, but there are limits to what is sustainable.

        • fatty says:

          That’s simply under-funding. Neoliberalism under-funds social services and that’s what we’ve been doing since the 80s. We have low taxes and have had low taxes for far too long.

          We are well within what is a stable population for a society to function.

          Auckland’s problems are to do with a lack of investment from the government. And Auckland’s city councils have been hopeless – like most of NZ.

          I agree with your other diagnosis: Auckland’s real problems stem from transport failures and a lack of investment into public transport. They should have built transport infrastructure years ago to allow for growth, but they didn’t. This has nothing to do with immigration. It’s shortsightedness and an inevitable outcome of our economic ideology.

          Blaming immigrants for Auckland’s failures lets the neoliberals off the hook. The health system is failing throughout the country in places that have not received immigration – eg Dunedin. Same with education. Same with transport.

          • Mike in Auckland says:

            Tat all said, I wonder what a vote winner raising taxes may be, as that is the only way to get more funding for all those services.

            As the missing million have disconnected themselves, or have given up hope and trust in politicians, they are hard to get to the voting booths or even to vote by post or perhaps online.

            The ones who do make sure they vote, they have vested interests and will make sure their taxes will not be increased, and then we have it, a fourth term for John Key.

            Immigration is a two edged sword, it also leads to competition for jobs and so, and keeps wages of ordinary workers and also the low paid down, and it may even impact on those still earning reasonable incomes.

            I consider New Zealand already over-populated, as in my view, we can only sustain the present population with an economy largely based on using fossil fuels and artificial fertilisers.

            The whole world is overpopulated, and this will bring massive problems in the medium to longer term future.

  13. Words says:

    Who he’s gonna call? you can bet it won’t be John key.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes WORDS,

      We see Winston as the only NZ saviour here,

      We do need a strong leader with a mandate a new turn and dismantle the political corruption.

      He will turn their pork barrel schemes upside down, and throw all the current Nactional Government changes over the cliff and return our NZ political system to another era of Democracy and away from the corruption pit they are gorging off of by feeding themselves on our last vestiges of the assets they have stolen from us all.

      Winston has been around before Key and his crooks got aboard their gravy train so he will know how to crash their train into a brick wall and drive them into a deep pit.

      • Winnie says:

        What Winston needs is another “Wine Box” full of Dodgy Tax Trusts details and ‘Cherry-Picked from Panama Papers’ Tax Avoidance/Evasion/Rorting implicating NZ Neolibs in BOTH parties and highlighting their collective corruption.

        A new “Wine Box” would really throw the nine-lived cat called Winnie among the pigeons. I never thought my name would become so famous (I was named after Winston Churchill after the war you know.)

        My predictions for the Election result 2017:

        NZ First 31%,
        Labour 30%,
        National 18%,
        Greens 14%
        Mana 5%
        Maori Party 2%,
        ACT 0 %,
        Peter Dunne 0%

        It will be Winston Peters on his Red and/or Blue phones ringing around to Andrew and Judith to offer coalitions and various Memorandum of Understanding.

      • LilaR says:

        But don’t forget Winston was originally a National MP, and after the first MMP election, he chose to prop up a National govt under PM Bolger, and the price he demanded for that was a new portfolio of Treasurer, which made him sound nice and important. And that’s what Winston likes above all else. He’s good in opposition, but I very much doubt that he’d make a good PM. Ultimately, he’s more interested in his own image than anything else.

  14. Jack Ramaka says:

    Winston Peters NZF is one of the few politicans in NZ who has any credibility left, despite MSM and the opposition parties efforts to smear and destroy him.

    20% at the 2017 Election looks about right for Winston and NZF, Labour really have to get their acts together and develop some sensible coherrant policy rather than be a wannabe National Party, they need some self identity and properly identify who their supporters are.

  15. fatty says:

    Yes, ‘blame the foreigners’ is Winnies’ stategy – it’s clunky conservative nationalism…and Labour have now jumped on board with him.

    Labour’s Chinese sounding last names stunt was a calculated gamble from a party without ideas. If Labour wanted to understand the housing crisis, they should look at their non-existent social housing policy at the last election. They should also be aware that the housing bubble began under Helen Clark around 2003.

    It’s sad that Labour prefer to blame an ethnic group instead of economic ideology – especially considering the working class roots of Labour.

    Maybe this new conservative nationalistic Labour is a good match for Winnie?

  16. CLEANGREEN says:

    Yes Jack,

    At least Winston knows how to handle the “Lame stream media” like no one else out there.

  17. Pat O'Dea says:

    “How well is the extra-parliamentary Left placed to take advantage of this populist surge? The short answer is: very poorly. Peters’ views on race are antithetical to many (if not most) New Zealand leftists. This makes it much more likely that the Left will position itself as Peters’ most aggressive opponent, rather than his covert ally.” MARTYN BRADBURY

    I would agree with this analysis, except for two things;

    Nuclear Navy visits and deep sea oil drilling.

    Winston Peters has always posited himself as a New Zealand nationalist.

    Where he stands on American Nuclear Navy visits may prove to be a very big fly in the ointment. The Nuclear Free status of this country has become embedded int the New Zealand psyche, if Winston Peters remains silent on this issue, (as he has remained so far), then his nationalist cred. will be severely dented.

    If Peters comes out against US Nuclear Navy visits then this will put him firmly in the camp of the Left, By taking such a stand Winston Peters would put any accomodation with the Nats. who will not accept this stance, beyond his reach. Meaning he would have to look at an alliance with the Left.

    The other thing is climate change, in particular extreme fossil fuel technologies like deep sea oil drilling and prospecting, being carried out in his own electorate.

    This is another weak point that Peters needs to be challenged on. At the by-election he was let off the hook. The Greens refused to stand a candidate who would have challenged him on his support for deep sea oil drilling and the Labour and Nats candidates all supported his position. This cosy tripartite arrangement on deep sea oil drilling in the Northland by-election ensured that the whole by-election was able to by-pass the whole issue.

    For daring to suggest that the Left work together in the Northland by-election, on the platform of opposing this tidy consensus on deep sea oil drilling, which Lynn Prentice termed the “Northland Mana Line” I earned a life ban from his centre-left website ‘The Standard’. Prentice threatened any other commenter who dared raise what he called the “Mana Northland Line” would also be banned.

    Labour and the Centre Left now have a chance to redeem themselves and join with the Greens and the wider left in condemning deep sea oil drilling and demanding its end in New Zealand waters.

    The inescapable fact is this: If the centre left want to keep Winston Peters away from the Nats then they need to re-examine their own support for deep sea oil drilling in Northland and so put Winston on the spot. The question them becomes does Winston side with the Nats, or with Labour and Left?

  18. Ocon says:

    It could be that NZ First increases its share of the vote in 2017 by the margins suggested in your article and in some of the comments above.

    But at the minute the data is very unreliable. The RM poll, for example, is historically volatile – its latest result for NZ First could be a ‘blip’.

    A poll of polls consideration does not provide evidence that NZ First’s popularity is anywhere near that which the RM poll suggests. And poll of polls analyses are generally much more reliable indicators than single polls, especially when each poll is weighted according to its credibility and statistical rigour.

    So the scenario painted in the article may come to pass, but for me I’d want to see much stronger polling evidence in support of this proposition before I believed it. For now I remain skeptical.

  19. CLEANGREEN says:

    Winston is the most experienced Politician in Parliament so he will know how to deal the cards for us coming out the winner against the US abrasive dealers we saw so far here.

    Winston will not forget his Foreign affairs role when in a Labour Coalition Government.

    He wont give everything away like this lot giving Millions/Billions in tax breaks/free taxpayer money to keep these Americans here like, Smelter of Bluff, Warner bros, TTPA corporates written agreements tying us up for many years in bondage like Greece, and lots more in Blind trusts?


 
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