The most interesting aspect of Winston Peter’s announcement of a coalition deal with Labour was his acknowledgement that capitalism had become the enemy of so many people. He said he wants a government of change which, among other things, will do something real about poverty.
That’s very good news for the new government because while Jacinda Ardern has talked the talk on poverty and inequality she didn’t bring any new policies into the election campaign which would have made a significant difference. In fact she backed down on even considering a capital gains tax for at least another three years. Her “captain’s call” was to cut the opportunity for a fairer tax system which would take the heavy tax burden from the poor and shift it to the feckless rich who don’t pay tax.
She compounded the idea she didn’t really stand for change by surrounding herself with the likes of Michael Cullen and Annette King during the campaign and in coalition negotiations.
These are the people who, despite nine years of strong economic growth and big budget surpluses, left 175,000 children in poverty when Labour lost the 2008 election.
In his (probably) last term as an MP. Winston Peters has returned to his economic roots. He came into parliament as a young MP when Muldoon was at the height of his powers. He was Muldoon’s protégé. Muldoon, despite the fact half the country hated him with a deep passion, fended off the new right within National and refused to implement economic policies he knew would increase poverty and inequality.
Labour unfortunately was captured by the new right in 1984 and the rest is a history which continues to repeat within the party and its policies.
It seems to me Winston Peters could well be the driver of policies to reduce poverty and inequality. Muldoon – despite his conservative, anti-women and anti-union attitudes – would have approved.