Winston Peters has had more political lives than a cat, but Tracey Watkins thinks he, and the NZ First party which is nothing without him, are petering out:
Anyone who kids themselves that there is life after Winston Peters for NZ First only had to watch the party floundering in the absence of its leader this week.
Frantically trying to head off an attack by their former colleague, expunged NZ Firster Brendan Horan, Peters’ front bench achieved the seemingly impossible feat of making Horan look good by comparison.
They were clueless in the face of Horan’s determination to extract utu from his former party by tabling documents he claimed showed improper use of the taxpayer funded leader’s fund. . .
Not only that, they voted against Labour’s vote of no confidence and had to belatedly ask for their no votes to be counted with the ayes.
Regardless of the ins and outs of Horan’s allegations, however, one thing seems clear: Horan is hellbent on using his last remaining months in Parliament to try to take Peters and the rest of NZ First down with him.
Even if he succeeds he will only be hastening by a few years what increasingly seems inevitable.
With its leader knocking 70, NZ First is a clock that has been slowly winding down since the 1996 election delivered Peters the balance of power. . .
Since the party’s return in 2011, Parliament has been collectively holding its breath waiting for the current team to implode given some of the more eccentric selections – like former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, notorious for urinating in a public place.
The implosion hasn’t happened yet but there have been plenty of flaky moments. Richard Prosser launched a diatribe against Muslims that prompted hundreds of complaints to the NZ First board. The party’s Pasifika MP, Asenati Lole-Taylor, famously asked questions of the police minister in Parliament about blow jobs and has carved out a cult following on Twitter for her bizarre outbursts. Her most recent was to accuse a press gallery journalist of cyber bullying after he referred to her “shooting the messenger”. Lole-Taylor thought he was alleging she had shot an actual parliamentary messenger. . .
It’s not quite so funny when you remember we’re paying her salary.
NZ First has never been more than Peters and whichever bunch of sycophants come in on his coat tails.
When he goes the party will go with him.
Whether it’s with a bang at the coming election or a whimper as it peters out over at least one more term is up to voters.
And those who think it could be this election should read Karl du Fresne on Peters in person at a public meeting.
He needs only sway 5% of voters and there could well be enough of the deluded and disenchanted to give him at least one more chance.