It doesn’t matter what they say about you…

… so long as they are talking about you.

New Zealand First is languishing in the polls, and they know it. Making promises they don’t keep is doing them no favours. Voters don’t particularly like the ‘tail wagging the dog’, and it is common for small support parties to vanish without a trace after being in government for a single term.

Matthew Hooton thinks the best thing that NZ First can do is to keep themselves in the headlines… even if it is for all the wrong reasons. quote.

If all publicity is good publicity, then this was a terrific week for NZ First.

Usually, a senior MP being caught in a conflict of interest scandal, publicly pressuring the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to prosecute his opponents and attacking a major listed company for meeting its continuous disclosure obligations would be bad news for their party.

But the standards that apply to Labour, National and the Greens simply aren’t relevant for NZ First. The party’s supporters want to see their heroes at war with the establishment and Shane Jones well and truly delivered this week. end quote.

I am not so sure about this. NZ First voters are a conservative lot. Their voters may indeed want to see NZ First take on the establishment, but they probably don’t want to see their MPs promising cash for votes quote.

The context remains a party at grave risk of ceasing to exist in 18 months.

NZ First is consistently below MMP’s 5 per cent threshold in all public and private polls, and there is no rule that it does better during election campaigns than between them.

Both times it has been in formal coalitions it has fallen below 5 per cent at the next election and it is odds on that 2020 will be a third. Winston Peters’ dream of his creation outliving him is fading, as are Jones’ hopes of taking over a going concern. end quote.

The problem with Jones is that he comes across as an outlier – a bully with a smart mouth, and such people don’t often make good party leaders. quote.

Jones’ behaviour really was egregious. Despite recognising a conflict of interest due to his relationships with the [Manea Footprints of Kupe] project’s backers, Jones nonetheless gave assurances about its governance that were quite clearly decisive in Finance Minister Grant Robertson agreeing to sign the cheque. It is because of Jones that the money was handed over.

Then, in parliamentary questions, Jones either deliberately or inadvertently failed to disclose his involvement in the decision.

end quote.

It was deliberate. Jones is a master at giving everyone the finger, including the prime minister. quote.

For NZ First, attacking journalists, threatening to smear named individuals under parliamentary privilege, making dark insinuations about the SFO and positioning big business as somehow treasonous have been core business for a quarter century. In everything he did this week, Jones had the full blessing of Peters and the NZ First caucus.

end quote.

Yes, but all those things are normally carried out while in opposition, not by a minister in charge of $3 billion of public money. quote.

The party plans to humiliate Labour and the Greens by harpooning the capital gains tax (CGT) proposal. Not even a limited CGT on residential rental properties is acceptable given how many NZ First supporters own rentals to fund their retirements.

Crucially, NZ First wants voters to make no mistake that Ardern and Robertson are committed to a CGT and that it was NZ First that overruled them.

The arithmetic of MMP makes it inevitable. NZ First knows it has no chance of reaching 5 per cent by loyally supporting the Government. Nor does it care if 90 per cent of voters think its behaviour is reprehensible.

It needs to win the support of only 1 in 20 voters: anything more is pointless. Drawing on the Kiwi culture of larrikinism, bad behaviour is its best bet.

A newspaper

Rolling Labour’s plans for CGT may be one thing, but I disagree with Matthew Hooton on this one. New Zealand voters will not vote a larrikin into government. Shane Jones is playing it all wrong.

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