Do you still think Winston will ever go with National?

Winston Peters is the ultimate politician. He knows what it takes to survive. No one has been around as long as he has, and although his party polled at only 7% at the last election, Jacinda is fooling herself if she doesn’t accept that he is in charge. We all know that he could bring this government down in a heartbeat, if he were to so decide.

But one year in to this shambolic government, Winston is painting himself into a corner. He seems to me to be breaking new ground here, and ruling himself out of doing a deal with National any time soon.

This from?Stuff?quote:

NZ First leader Winston Peters delivered a blistering attack on free market economics and National with a major speech on Sunday afternoon, defending his decision to go with Labour.

The speech lacked any major policy announcements, instead acting as a clear statement of his party’s history and values and why those values saw him pick Labour.

This included a direct frontal attack on National and its leader, Simon Bridges, who he said would not last until the next election. end quote.

Well, you don’t know that, Winston. From memory, National doesn’t change its leader anything like as often as Labour has done recently, and if that is your honest opinion, you very well could be proved wrong. quote:

“National’s behaviour since the election has only confirmed our good sense in choosing to go with Labour,” Peters said. end quote.

Photoshopped image credit: Boondecker

National is in opposition. They are behaving like an opposition. They have already brought down one minister – Clare Curran – and they have a few more scalps in their sights. All they are doing is what oppositions are supposed to do. So why exactly is Winston so full of bile for National? quote.

“National is leaderless, it’s moribund, and it’s vacuous, and it’s got bitter and jealous.

“It’s a shell of its former self?because it has been seduced by big money and marketing.”

“Simon Bridges will not lead National into the next election. He’s a desperate man.” end quote.

If he considers National to be ‘bitter and jealous’, how exactly could anyone describe Labour for the last 9 years? How exactly is he behaving right now??quote.

Peters defended his decision to go after Bridges so forcefully when speaking to media after the speech, saying that while we had issues with a Bridges-led National, that wouldn’t constrain his decisions after the next election – because Bridges wouldn’t be the leader any more.

Peters said there could be up to two more National leaders prior to that election. end quote.

Winston will be 75 when the next election rolls around. No one knows exactly what will happen if he decides to stand down. But what surprises me most about this outburst is the nastiness and vitriol from someone who has – apparently – achieved everything he wants. So, the question you have to ask is – why?

This is just my personal opinion, and you are welcome to disagree if you wish. I think Winston is troubled by the rumours of dissatisfaction within the coalition. He doesn’t like the fact that the media has picked up on the cracks within the government, and he is trying to send a signal that he has no intention of breaking up the present arrangement and going with the other side.

Nobody knows what Winston will do. He probably doesn’t know himself. He can swear black is white, if he has a mind to but the message he is sending is that there is only one option for voters. He is trying to destabilise National in the eyes of the voting public. He is targeting Simon Bridges in particular, for no apparent reason.

In other words, as of today at least, he is indicating that he sees National as flakier than the government.

To his credit, Simon Bridges responded well.

Winston should be concerned that his own voters are a largely conservative base, while Labour and the Greens are hard left socialists. This is not normal ground for Winston, and he must be very well aware of it. He will lose a reasonable chunk of his current voter base if he keeps up with the hard left policies so it is reasonable to assume that, in the long run, he will not.

I suspect that Simon is right and that the government’s internal polling is not good news. We haven’t seen a media poll for a while, which is surprising. If the public is not keen on all the things that this government is doing, that will come as a surprise to no one.

Winston promised us dark times ahead, and he said we should not blame him and if everything that has happened so far had been due to global economic conditions, that would be fair enough. But fuel levies, increased ACC costs (to come), unnecessary spending on tertiary students, no new houses, the destruction of profitable industries, more refugees and a fortune to be spent on reducing our carbon emissions when we hardly produce any are all the result of government policies. People are starting to feel it. There is nowhere for Winston to hide from that.

We know, and no doubt Winston also knows, that his 7% on election night was bolstered by disgruntled National voters wanting to send their government a message. Did those voters expect to end up with a government that adopts hard left socialist policies, sometimes without any consultation? I doubt it. So Winston is sending a message to them too.

Or is it possible that Winston is seeing his legacy going down the drain and destabilising National is the only way he sees he can survive?

Nobody knows exactly what goes on inside Winston’s head. He has done exactly what John Key did in 2008, saying he would not do a deal with NZ First. Now, Winston has just about made the same declaration. He will not do a deal with National. Even though they may need each other very soon.

John Key resigned when he realised that a deal with Winston was the only way to keep National in government. Will Winston do the same thing when he realises he has misread voters intentions and he has to go with National to survive?