There have always been two distinct NZ First electorates.
The first are conservatives who have felt left behind by neoliberalism and culture change and cling to Winston as their saviour. For them NZ First is a grassroots movement powered on cake stalls, raffles and knitting fundraisers. They have parochial values and a fear of eclipses.
Then there is the other electorate. The behind the scenes regional power houses and economic industries who are drawn to a State that intervenes on their behalf against an ocean of transnationals. It is this class of regional self interest that bankrolls NZ First and Winston has always known this. Chris Trotter does an incredible job of highlighting this dynamic in his must read blog yesterday.
Getting caught out serving two masters, provincial conservatives and regional crony capitalism is as politically embarrassing as it gets.
With the constant drip of insider information to the alpha shark of the Press Gallery – Radio NZs Guyon Espiner, the damage to the NZ First brand can not be over estimated.
From NZ First’s donations from Talleys that saw Shane Jones boasting about being the Ghost Fishing Minister and had the Government turn down a critic from fishing industry oversight, stopped cameras on fishing boats and intervened in a fishing boat caught illegally fishing is as damning as Jones helping out his Trucking mate up North.
Being investigated by the SFO is just the icing on top of a shit cake.
On top of their crony capitalism, NZ First has been a hand break for any real progress on a myriad of fronts from electric cars to a Capital Gains tax to dumping the 3 strikes legislation.
Labour cut a deal with NZ First in 2017 because we had no choice if we wanted National out, as the 2020 election approaches and NZ First sinks below the 5% threshold, it would be best for the progressive movement if NZ First were gone altogether.
The hopes of a second term Government now rest on Labour+Greens+Māori Party.