The cartoon in the Herald that has Winston Peters as The Nodfather is right on the money. (See that link APN? Saw it on a blog first.) Winston Peters is the don of Ignorance Incorporated, where you can get all of your biases confirmed and spruiked by the shortest kingmaker in New Zealand politics.
Winston Peters has managed to survive umpteen scandals and outright despicable behaviour because he is the shrewdest operator in the House – he has clearly identified the voting blocs that want goodies and he has consistently delivered for his voting blocs.
Formerly productive old people get discounts everywhere because of their Gold Cards. Do you remember the introduction of the Gold Card? Do you wonder why it hasn’t been rolled back? Because Winston Peters knew in promoting such a scheme that the outcry from old people would be as loud as if interest were to come back on student loans. Good policy is not good politics.
Then we can look to how he managed to increase the money flowing into the racing sector. There are many people in that industry who will be very pleased if Winston gives them another nod after the next election. He works hard for his voting blocs, and wealthy backers combined with the fact NZ First has a ton of MPs in the house means they can run a far more effective campaign than they did last election – can you imagine NZ First holding the balance of power with an extra couple of MPs?
If you are a victim of the four biases, part of the voting bloc I call Ignorance Incorporated, then NZ First pushes all of your buttons. They’re anti asset sales, anti immigration, anti Chinese, anti bow tie wearers and anti making people who haven’t saved enough for retirement internalising the costs of their poor foresight.
There is no such thing as nothing for nothing in politics. It will be interesting to see how Winston Peters wheels out something shiny for younger people this time around. I have a feeling he will seize the housing affordability “crisis” and try and capture some market share of voters want more free stuff. He already has many older people on lock, and knows he has to shore up a new generation of voters to perpetuate the baubles of office.
In terms of who Winston Peters gives the nod to, he has John Key with his back against the wall. United Future is gone. ACT could conceivably go, that brand is tarnished. Wealthy people in this country know that there’s no point participating in politics, it’s throwing good money down the drain writing a cheque to ACT.
That leaves John Key needing to make a lot of concessions if he ends up in a coalition with Winston Peters. Will he need the Maori Party as much? Could NZ First run some candidates in Maori electorates after doing something to finally destroy the Maori Party? After watching Winston Peters destroy boring Peter Dunne with a whiff of scandal attached, his gamesmanship has to be respected. Remember, once upon a time NZ First won 5 Maori electorate seats. Anything is possible for The Nodfather, the don of Ignorance Inc.
As an aside I am surprised that NZ First is not running a candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election. I think this is intentional – he doesn’t want to foreshadow his plans to wreck the Maori Party before the election and divide & conquer the Maori electorates. A lot of Maori voters won’t buy his BS though.