Killing Them Softly: Labour’s Caution Is Proving Fatal To NZ First


WINSTON PETERS had better have something up his sleeve – preferably an ace – or things are going to get messy. Reviewing the latest poll from Newshub/Reid Research, the thought must surely have crossed the NZ First leader’s mind: “Did Jacinda play me?” Because, it is almost impossible to imagine a politician as experienced as Peters agreeing to install such a potentially unstable combination as the Labour-NZF-Green government without first being convinced that Jacinda was genuinely committed to New Zealand’s economic and social transformation.

Seven months into the Ardern-led government, however, it must be clear that his assumption that Jacinda and the Labour Party were one and the same was profoundly mistaken. Peters was right in thinking that without her even the possibility of change would be non-existent. Where he erred was in thinking that Labour’s willingness to be guided by the person who had brought power within its grasp was anything like as great as NZ First’s. Jacinda may have rescued Labour from a crushing (perhaps fatal) defeat but that didn’t mean she was the boss – not by a long chalk.

Since Helen Clark’s departure in 2008 the Labour Party has come to resemble the Scotland of the 1500s. Nominally an absolute monarchy, England’s northern neighbour had singularly failed to produce a dynasty to match the all-powerful Tudors. Scotland had thus become a rancorous and fractious realm in which the monarch wasn’t evenprimus inter pares (first among equals) but the plaything of its most powerful noble families.

Over the past nine-and-a-half years Labour’s parliamentary caucus has steadily fallen under the sway of a handful of ambitious MPs, without whose backing none of its leaders have been able to operate effectively. The most powerful of these MPs, Grant Robertson and Phil Twyford, have become (not coincidentally) the crucial arbiters of what is – and is not – going to happen in the Labour-NZF-Green government. If Peters had anticipated calling the shots alongside Ardern, then he must be feeling tremendously frustrated.

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Certainly, Peters was able to secure a considerable sum for his own foreign ministry and a billion-dollar regional investment fund with which his most likely successor, Shane Jones, can top-dress the provinces. But, the Deputy Prime Minister is not blind, he must see that it is these two men, Robertson and Twyford, who will make or break the government he and Ardern caused to be formed.

What Peters needed, and what Ardern showed every sign of wanting to form, was a government dedicated to making big changes. Nothing less could hope to deliver the “transformation” promised by the Prime Minister. Her “politics of kindness” would require a revolution – of sorts.

The 2.4 percent level of electoral support to which NZ First has fallen is a reflection of just how far the government put in place by Peters has fallen short of its followers’ expectations. Only now, on the eve of becoming NZ’s acting prime minister, is it becoming clear to Peters that “Jacinda” is a politician with two faces. The first is the face New Zealanders thrill to: hopeful, open, empathic. The second is the face she wears in Labour’s caucus: shrewd, cautious, realistic. Peters is realising, too late, that it is this all-important second face that Ardern will, on no account, set against her two overmighty subjects: Robertson and Twyford.

What Peters needed from Labour were revolutionaries. What he got, in the seats of power that truly mattered, were two uninspiring tinkerers with the status quo. Last October, Peters and NZ First were confident that what they were hearing from Jacinda and her colleagues were the uplifting harmonies of kindness and transformational change. Seven months on, it’s clear that whatever kind of music is killing them softly – it isn’t the Hallelujah Song.



  1. I know Winston and met him several times andnhis planed policies are the best available for NZ but unfortunatey Labour has not taken some of his best policies on-board yet.

    I predict as labour slides they will turn to their partners and decide to take some more of his policies on-board.

    I wouldn’t signal NZF First’s demise yet as “there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge” yetChis, and I acknowledge that you are not very keen on Winston or NZF.
    he cant be put in the “Dancing for Stars Politicians graveyard” along with Fox, Seyour and all others gone before.

    Fox was far better than Seymour but why is HE still in that competition???????

    • Sadly I caught a snippet of and advert for DWTS. It had Seymour saying he was going to “move faster than Labour does spending the taxpayers hard earned money”

      I immediately thought fuckwit.

    • The same reason why ACT is still in Parliament and the Maori Party are not. Poor old Marama scares even the Taniwha with her madness.

  2. #freeTommyRobinson
    Will free speech be stomped on? Winston well known for his dislike of media.

  3. I think you have always projected an intention for economic change onto Jacinda that she never stated. She has always deferred to her economist colleagues to manage the economy “responsibly”. And never claimed expertise in that capacity. Looking to Cullen was never going to produce a revolution. Outside developments will have to do that.
    If the electorate wants a change to a government of change toward the principles that Winston stands for,i.e. looking after New Zealand and New Zealanders first, then they have to vote for him, not for a pretty girl who might be influenced by him. We get what we deserve.
    D J S

  4. It’s a bit like the first term of the Obama administration. Promising radical change and then delivering very mild change, and the result of that was Trump

  5. “Its a cold and its a broken Hallelujah”
    If its Cohen’s song you refer to , its very apt for Winston’s lament

  6. NZ First demise is nothing to do with Labour, they signed TPPA and have dropped the ball on immigration which is what they were known for!

    No passenger trains seem to be coming to the provinces and the railway lines seem destined to support the industry exporters of logs for example, which probably NZ First voters are not a big number of!

    • And yet. It seems as if, for many, the train of reality is colliding with and disappearing into the fog of unreal expectations. Somewhere in the thick mist, opportunities emerge, people exploit other people in alarming and distressing ways, some people emerge with credentials intact or enhanced, others suffer damage, real or perceived…. is it really this fickle? We can view it through a cynical lens, a party-coloured lens, a left/right lens… all influences our reading of it. The MPB outbreak could either wed farmers to Labour, or it could be used to aid the push-back against the popularity of the PM, in which case it would be a pile-on by the righties. Who knows what is really going on, or who is playing who.

    • Worse still SAVENZ WHAT ABOUT THIS;

      When will Labour/National /NZF appologise to NZ, after the new cases of other disease comes here after their final rush to pass the final report to Parliament since the phoney “select Committee to review the TPTPP” was hoisted on us all as a “diversion” while their intent was to pass this toxic trade agreement as it already was???

      Chair Simon O’Connor said he believed the CPTPP is o/k; – as is????

      Even though submitters warned him and his committee that they will be setting us up for more “micro-plasma bovis” events.

      The submitters said they should include a clause be added to the ISDS agreement to allow in all cases Government contracts or with other parties allowing local/state governments and other parties to encourage Government to pass regulations to protect NZ citizens and the environment against foreign activities in NZ that may damage their future economic, environmental, health, and well-being after the trade agreement will be enacted in 2019.

      ‘Editored’ section involving environmental protection and no change from draft report originally proposed in march 2018.

      (Chair Simon O’Connor said he believed the CPTPP is o/k; – as is????)


      Page; 5

      Summary of issues discussed with submitters
      Many submitters, notably those opposed to the CPTPP, believe that the changes from the
      TPP do not substantively address their concerns. They consider that the CPTPP is
      effectively the same as the TPP.

      Investor-State dispute settlement and sovereignty
      We discussed some submitters’ concerns about the effect the CPTPP would have on the
      sovereign rights of New Zealanders to determine their own future through an elected
      Parliament. In particular, these submitters consider that the ISDS provisions unnecessarily
      empower and protect international investors.
      Some submitters believe that the threat of substantial awards against governments is a
      strong disincentive for the New Zealand Government to act in the interests of New
      Zealanders when those interests conflict with those of CPTPP investors. Submitters consider
      that this could have a chilling effect on the Government’s ability to make policy and regulate
      in areas including labour law and the mitigation of climate change.
      We also discussed the CPTPP’s relationship with New Zealand’s many international
      obligations, including the Paris Agreement to address climate change, and the United
      Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We understand that this is problematic because
      many of these obligations are not enforceable, but the CPTPP contains enforcement
      Two dispute settlement mechanisms in CPTPP
      We understand that the CPTPP provides for two dispute settlement mechanisms: a
      government-to-government system to resolve disputes in the agreement, and ISDS. The
      ISDS mechanism provides for the settlement of disputes between foreign investors and the
      Government of the country in which the investment is made.
      Application of ISDS in CPTPP
      In the CPTPP, ISDS only applies to the Investment chapter and limited investment-related
      elements of the Financial Services chapter. The scope of the ISDS mechanism is narrower
      that it was in the TPP. Claims are no longer permitted in relation to investment contracts and
      approval. This means that private companies which enter into an investment contract with
      the Government would not be able to use ISDS if there were a dispute about that contract.
      Decisions made under the Overseas Investment Act 2005 are also not subject to ISDS.
      Suspensions around the minimum standard of treatment concerning financial services
      further reduce the risk of successful claims under the CPTPP being taken against New
      Zealand. The minimum standard of treatment is an obligation that forms part of the body of
      customary international law, to accord fair and equitable treatment to covered investments,
      and not to deny justice.

  7. The fact that none of the planning was (and is yet to be) in place for this grand transformation is constantly ignored…..any vision shared by Ardern and Peters requires a road map to the destination…or would you prefer to head into a blizzard without any preparation?

    There is no point in making a difficult task impossible….. both Robertson and Twyford will know the sole source of their opportunity…and they need not delude themselves otherwise.

      • is a fair question….I suspect all energy was directed at finding a leader who could challenge Key….obviously unsuccessfully….and remember a leader drives policy so the way and time Arden was bestowed the leadership meant even if the policy was formed (which it wasn’t) it wasn’t necessarily the policy she wanted….and to complicate matters there were coalition negotiations.

        Labour did indeed waste those 9 years and they really have no excuses

  8. Its not a matter of poisonalities.
    The fiscal constraint doesnt allow room for ‘great wo/men’.
    And fiscal constraint is a flimsy figleaf covering economic collapse.
    NZ as a declining semicolony faces a turbulent, dying global capitalism.
    5 eyes is a tool of decaying Brit/yankee imperialism trying to neutralise all opposition and give the bankers and dictators time to hide their wealth.
    Britain is now a doddering old bwanker living off rents from its remnants of empire.
    US is coming to the end of its hegemonic reign and can only maintain a pretence of power because it can finance a global mercenary force on the back of the oil dollar.
    Climate catastrophe will soon drown out that illusion.
    Sooner or later the Canadian and Aussie ruling classes will, like the EU powers (I don’t mean the former Soviet satellites like Poland who would rather go down with the US than concede to Putin) gravitate to Chinese and Russian imperialism as their saviours.
    But that exit is blocked too as neither can escape the decline and fall of the capitalist system.
    And that decline creates the conditions for political extremism.
    The problem is that the extremism that capitalism resorts to will end up in fascism unless the ‘left’ kicks its parliamentary addiction to historic labourite oxymoron and starts preparing to euthanise capitalism before it exterminates us all.
    Meanwhile futile speculation about which parliamentary combination of actors can save us is pointless.
    Instead of praying to our gutless parliamentarians to ‘transform’ capitalism, we will have to join with workers everywhere to do the job ourselves.

  9. Ah?
    “…Reviewing the latest poll from Newshub/Reid Research…”
    But who, in their right mind, would trust those fuckers?
    What do you think more than 30 years of neoliberalism and nine of the last of those under national’s steerage has done to polling and polls?
    The reality to me is that no one really knows what the fuck’s going on.

    Look? See? This is how easy it is.

    My latest poll results.
    Labour 95% preferred government.
    Adern 99% preferred leader
    NZ First. 80% What do they actually do?
    peters 99.9% preferred Machiavellian bullshit artist.
    Green Party 99.99 % desperate to not engage farmers to discuss leaving national for a more sustainable way of farming while planning on burning down the banksters
    The Two Green Elf Leaders?
    Who gives a fuck? 1 %

    National. 100% of the vampires whom must now share their cavern with Chinese Nationals after National sold their cavern out from under their noses must say “ National very good! 100% Good! Good/Happy! National offer special insurance rates for tooth care as we suck the life blood out of your country, so yeah. We’re very happy”. Or get their lease revoked to allow less uppity poverty stricken working Kiwi poor to scavenge for morsels amongst the Chinese / vampire shit left on the cavern floor.

    The above poll is as valid as any ‘newshub/reid research result.
    100% correct says my poll.

    Newshub/Reid Research poll results? = one grain of salt.

    Where have all our mongrels gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all our radicals gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all our John A. Lee’s gone?
    We’ve neutralised them every one
    When will we ever learn?
    When will we ever learn?

  11. an excellent article from trotter…i see no reason to question anything he says…

    ardern promised to reform the drug laws..and to attack poverty..and yes some of the poor will qualify for the families package – and good on them..but that just scratched the surface of the vile pulsating beast that is the widespread poverty in new zealand…

    to date ardern and roberstson are clark/cullen redux (and that is not a compliment..)

    and don’t get me started on her bare-faced lies/promises to reform the cannabis laws…

    she is doing nothing of the sort…

    and that was the best deal the greens could get..?…a non-fucken-binding/total waste of money – referendum..?

    who does their negotiations for them..?..(the careerists..?..just salivating over those ministerial plum jobs..?..)

    bah..!..a fucken pox on all of them..!

    ‘cos they should recycle him/her/them…

    jacinda ardern/grant robertson – putting the ‘or’ in transformation..

  12. It’s not Winston. Or Ron Mark.

    It’s the rest of those colourless and invisible NZ First seat warmers. What do they DO? How are they different from the pontificating proclaimers heard in the late hours of a sitting by only the Deputy Speaker and those with insomnia?

    Before Winston rounds on the rest of the country he, or someone better suited to be NZF consiglieri, needs to get the parliamentary squad into ‘speak the message’ mode. Then into sustined action and transformation into people to be trusted and supported by voters.

    It’s a perfect time: dear old leopard spots Bennett is drama-queening; Simon Bridges is being ultra conservative, while Strong Judith Collins is whetting her best stiletto. And a lot of people don’t like that.

    The Green Gnomes: ‘two spans high, very reluctant to interact with humans, and able to move through solid earth as easily as humans move through air.’ Obscure. At present they don’t seem to stand for environmental issues except in a quasi-religious way. It’s hard to tell just who they represent anymore.

    But can NZF gather itself and come past abiding suspicion of its leader? Can it show it has more gravitas than Shane Jones? Can it connect with people who see themselves in neither National nor Labour but have to apply the clothespeg and vote one or t’other knowing neither is much of a fit? Aye, there’s the rub…

  13. “Only now, on the eve of becoming NZ’s acting prime minister, is it becoming clear to Peters that “Jacinda” is a politician with two faces. The first is the face New Zealanders thrill to: hopeful, open, empathic. The second is the face she wears in Labour’s caucus: shrewd, cautious, realistic.”

    Yep, not far off the reality, I think.

  14. ‘Transformation’ from being great talking, over promising, and passionately debating campaigners appealing to the social democrats and socialists, to the cool, calculating, realpolitik practicing neoliberal lightweights who are holding ministerial portfolios dependent on collaboration with the deep state.

  15. FFS, Chris, this government is barely 7 months old!, what do you think will happen, instant evolution from amoeba to antelope in less than a year??

    Lets cut them some slack here, they have 30+ years of deeply entrenched neoliberalism to unpick. If Labour became as raducally revolutionary as you demand, what odds do you give them for re-election in 2020??? Short answer; fuck all.

    Small parties lose polling support in between election, that’s to be expected. Peters is experienced enough to know this and plan accordingly. I say this as a long time green/labour voter with nought interest in NZ First.

    • A fair point MJOLNIR.

      Problem is Ardern in particular has been talking the transformation talk; over selling it like its a walk in the park.

      Transformation is a very different beast to the easy way in which Ardern speaks about it. Its disruptive; it breaks down existing structures; it changes the lives of those caught up in the middle of it; its seldom popular. Its what Roger Douglas and the Lange government did in the 80’s.

      In reality Arden and her acolytes don’t want to do this; they don’t want to deal with the messiness of transformation politics. Unfortunately for labour she has totally over sold this – I doubt if she actually understands what she’s talking about.

      • I know a number of people who had correspondence with Jacinda when she was the opposition spokesperson on welfare issues. She was mostly good at responding, thanking always for the information made available to her, talking like she appreciated being given insight into people’s experiences.

        But in respect of any clear position, of any action and so forth, she was always very ambiguous, and committed to nothing much at all.

        Later she tried to present herself as the champion of those wanting to fight child poverty. The concerns of the many others on benefits and living in poverty, these were hardly ever mentioned by her.

        It seems a lot of selective thinking is going on there, and there is no strong commitment to much of any sorts.

        I personally never trusted Jacinda Ardern all that much, she may be aspiring, but is certainly not a street fighter for justice, so I observed.

  16. I expected more. I expected something earth shattering and then after hearing that the govt was going to abide by the fiscal responsibility act with the budget I realised that we were getting National Lite and a one term government.

    What a bloody shame!

    • Why did you and others on here expect way more than what was actually offered? They never said they would turn the whole place upside down and have a revolution. I think Chris is wrong, in no way shape or form does Winston think he’s been played. Thats just wishful thinking on his part due to his own biases and he should know better that Winston Peters doesn’t believe those polls anyway. The party always drops after the election and bounces back at election time, besides its ludicrous to wipe out NZ First and the Greens chances years out from the next election. How come we were swamped with polls when National were in power, National lose and we are down to just 2 right wing pollsters that always over inflate Nats numbers anyway?

      • Announcing an increase of the Accommodation Supplement for poor and those on benefits, and not mentioning that the abatement regime at WINZ will continue as usual, thus taking away again what was given with one hand, with the other hand, that is total BS in my view. That is what Labour have done. I know many on benefits who briefly got a little extra from 1 April, come their reviews for temporary additional support or special benefit, suddenly the promised increase was taken off them again, by a cut in those supplementary benefits.

        What a load of BS this government are, much talk, little REAL action, and con games, endless con games, now kowtowing to the farmer lobby and so forth.

        • The government has already given a directive for winz to help people, if they need support winz is to give it. A little extra? quite substantial actually particularly in comparison to the nothing from the National government and the family package and the winter payments will kick in as well on the 1st of July. The overhaul of winz is a massive complex exercise and should not be rushed. I understand the impatience but this has to be done right.

          • You are talking shit, mate, total shit, WINZ keep cutting temporary additional support and special benefits, as the system automatically applies the abatement regime as usual, leading to the Accommodation Supplement increase being neutralised, money given is taken away at the next review of the benefit (every 6 months for those who still get Special Benefit).

            It would only require a clear directive by the Minister to have the abatement regime changed, and that regime is applied also in an non-transparent manner, nobody is given info about how they apply it, strangely.

            But if a directive re that had been given, beneficiaries would note it, but they do not see anything like that at the coal face.

            So your endless Labour apologist stand is sickening.

                • Semantic BS you are spreading, ‘being nice’ or ‘showing kindness’ means damned fricking NOTHING, as they do not say that the abatement regime is being changed!

                  The ABATEMENT REGIME has NOT been changed, and thus people on TAS and SB get NOTHING after the so called ‘increases’ of Accommodation Supplement! They get a cut of the extra they need to survive.

                    • It was said change was coming, but it has not been effective, honest change. I believe the people at the coal face, not some media report.

                    • Change is already occurring Marc and its better than nothing and its better than the last 9 years of National.

                • I have. Fear not the deep end of the pool. Bounce around, go back to the shallows if you have to. We’ll wait for you in the middle. Good luck.

                  • Sorry, you did not back yourself up, I am talking about Accommodation Supplement increases taken off beneficiaries again by having their temporary additional support or special benefits cut. You have not addressed that at all, just presented some link to a media report talking about other matters of support, e.g. for housing and access to it.

                    • Actually I did address it and I did back myself up and it was on winz, you obviously didn’t read the the link.

          • I bet the ‘winter payments’ will also lead to abatement of supplement benefits like TAS and SB!

              • Where is your ‘proof’ that the ABATEMENT REGIME has been changed, what I hear from many others is, it has NOT changed, so any increase in Accommodation Supplement or other benefit components will reduce TAS and SB!

                You talk and do not deliver any proof.

                • Thats what you are doing. Who are you talking to? Nats? I can tell you that people have more in their pockets now under the Labour led coalition government than what they did when National were in power. This is just the beginning. Change takes time and change will happen.

                  • I have talked to beneficiaries and even WINZ frontline staff, my friend, not some politician BS artist or media reporter of spin stories.

                    • They still haven’t figured it out yet, that the public now know 100% that when they see a headline it simply translates into “We have nothing to say and have run out of narrative.”

                      Instead of advertising commercial distractions on The Daily Blog.., it would be more helpful if you reported them for fake news without advertising them. Thats where im coming from.

                    • So have I Marc and I can tell you categorically that beneficiaries have more in their pockets now than under Nats.

  17. One does not just simply have a baby , then put that baby in a closet after its born and forget all about it. Jacinda , as a young mum , will need time to attend to whats important. And that’s her baby.

    To those chastising her , remember she helped to enable this coalitions win.

    And yes perhaps we have a case for demanding more so far…

    But let us not forget that very , very soon, … the Right Honourable Winston Peters will soon to be the Right Honourable Winston Peters, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    Albeit as a caretaker Prime Minister.

    It would not be tactful to dump expectation of massive change on a new govt coalition 6 month old ,… after 9 years of a previous one , – and by so doing jeopardize any actions they have in the wings that may ‘spook the horses’… if indeed they do have a plan that includes ‘ softly , softly catches the monkey’ …

    I suspect things will be a little different once Mr Peters is acting PM ,… he is of a totally different era and an entirely different cut of politician than what Jacinda Adern is… and he has an historic axe to grind with those who A) habitually insulted and hindered NZ Firsts progress , and B) by doing so , hindered the counter reforms Peters and his party want.

    And I don’t think Peters will squander this opportunity of at last after decades , – becoming Prime Minister of New Zealand lightly. There’s work to be done ,- plus a few old scores to settle.

    Winston Peters was no friend of neo liberalism ,… ever.

    He simply found himself having to work within the dominant party’s framework of policy’s,… much to his disagreement at times when it ran counter to his social democratic beliefs.

    But he is restrained , by both the Greens and Labour , – and the factions within those party’s… but lets just see what happens when he does assume caretaker Prime Minister… we might be hearing a little bit more of an ‘edge’ to words spoken and to whom they are directed to , as well as a little more ‘vigorous application’ for various policy implementations…

      • Wild Kapito has been rather critical, now you celebrate him or her just like that, as your Labour losers let so many down, hoping for the best.

        • Strange to be so hostile and judgmental just months into a new government. No one said it was going to be easy and everything will be fixed in just six months with one budget. You have unreasonable expectations. The new government never promised anyone the moon, the universe and everything else. Get a grip please. Change does take time. I can understand the impatience but thats the way it is.

            • No, a realist, Frankly there’s no justification for your attitude at this early stage. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

              • When the government makes promises, talks about increasing one supplement, giving the impression people will have more in the pocket, but this not being the case, we are talking about BS presented by them.

                I have every right to raise this, as it is an issue that should not even have occurred.

  18. There is always talk from those that oppose NZ First that they are finished, gone, same with the Greens too. Even some said Labour are finished, gone. Never happens.

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