The reason New Zealand First has been polling below its election night support is obvious:
NZ First voters would have preferred National to be in Government than Labour by a large margin, newly released survey results say.
The new public survey data shows 44.5 per cent of NZ First voters answered “National” when asked to pick between Labour and National leading the Government, with Labour 10 points behind at 34.1 per cent. . .
I suspect if the choice had been National or Labour and the Green Party, the number preferring National would have been even higher.
But it’s not just Peters opting for Labour with Greens in support, that’s upset members.
A raft of internal NZ First documents have been leaked to the media and the National Party, revealing internal discontent about the way the party ran the last election campaign and Coalition negotiations. . .
The papers show some were critical of leader Winston Peters for planning to take legal action against National Party figures before Coalition negotiation began and questioned what impact that had on those talks.
It is a very rare breach of the internal secrecy of the party and will be a blow to Peters. . .
He has had absolute sway over the party for years, but these leaks show that, as many dictators before him have found, the grip eventually loosens.
Documented minutes of a party meeting in November 2017 show members levelling criticism at Peters.
One member said New Zealand First needed to “come up with solutions and start a succession plan post Winston Peters”.
Another said: “Resources for the campaign were not provided, no cogent policies, signs unreadable, distribution of sign issues, listing was confidential, no plan B (or even A) for Jacinder [sic]”.
After the 2017 election, Helen Peterson – a long-time party member, who has stood for election three times – wrote a report titled “NZ First Concerns and issues regarding Election 2017”. She has been approached for comment.
“A number of members nationwide have been extremely disappointed in the way in which the 2017 election campaign was handled,” it said.
The documents reveal members felt the party’s list showed disrespect for hardworking, loyal, hardworking and long-serving members, and favoured candidates who had personal relationships with those who select the list placement.
Members also complained the list process was sexist, as only three of the candidates in the top 18 were female.
It also shows members thought the campaign was unorganised, lacked leadership and had no strategy.
New Zealand First candidates were “for the most part unsupported” and given minimal mentoring or support by the board.
“The extent and magnitude of the issues demonstrate how the party will remain a third party for the foreseeable future unless there is an enormous shift towards accountability, adherence to the constitution and respect for its members.” . .
These criticisms won’t be any surprise to the many who have long questioned Peters and the apparent disregard for democracy in his party.
But political blood is thicker than water and staunch members will put up with policies and behaviors from and within their party that they will condemn in others. But only for a time.
Peters’ power over his party and its members has been almost absolute.
The resignation of the president, and his explanation of why, and the leaks showing internal dissatisfaction indicate that for at least some members, the time for unwavering support is past.