Peters admits he wouldn’t protect his source

In a bizarre series of interviews today Winston Peters has morphed from an absolute protector of his supposed source to saying he would produce them as witnesses if his challenge to Judith Collins to sue him was taken up.

On Radio NZ:

I’m trying to find out exactly what what happened, so what day did it happen on and what time of day?

Winston Peters: Oh look, I’m not going to answer a silly question like that, it did happen I can assure you of that, but I’m not going to finger people who thought they were having a confidential conversation. It’s that simple.

Did you agree to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone.

But did they ask you to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: No it was clear as daylight that they wanted it to be confidential.

With Sean Plunket on RadioLive:

Was it Simon Lusk that approached you?

Winston Peters: I can tell you that I do not intend to break any confidence on these matters.

I’m going to ask you direct, was it Simon Lusk?

Winston Peters: I’ll say it again, I’ll answer you direct, I do not intend to break confidence on these matters.

I’m going to put myself out on a limb here Mr Peters. Would you be prepared to privately give me that name on the grounds that I would not disclose it?

Winston Peters: Um well I’ve done that once before with you and you’ve kept your word, but the answer’s no because I’d be breaching confidentiality with someone else and I’m not going to do that and I’ve never done that in a long career.

So he would absolutely honourably not breach confidence.

Ok you do understand that in the absence of further information you know and I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but you know if I was Woodward and Bernstein for example I probably wouldn’t run this.

Winston Peters:Oh no no if I was Woodward and Bernstein I would take that information and work on it and sooner or later you’re going to strike pay dirt with others knowing about it, that’s what Woodward and Bernstein did in their case, they just followed the money as they were told by Deep Throat to do. In this case you follow the power.

But he’s happy encourage journalists to find out who his source is based on what he’s fed them, and that they previously knew nothing about.

On that basis I wouldn’t trust Peters to keep something confidential.  He would do enough to see that confidentiality was breached but try to avoid responsibility for discovery even though that was his intent in going public.

Later on 3 News:

Winston Peters is challenging Judith Collins to sue him for defamation over his claims she plotted against the Prime Minister.

Winston Peters: I bet she won’t, because then I will produce the witnesses.

So these sources that “I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone” would be produced and revealed after he promoted investigation of the story and if Collins sued him after he pushed her into doing so.

Trust Winston Peters?

John Key’s choice – Collins or Peters

After the latest revelation (or publicity seeking stunt) from Winston Peters – see Peters slams dirty politics, then gets dirty – I think John Key has two clear choices.

If Peters can prove (don’t hold your breath) that Judith Collins has totally flipped and tried something this ludicrous then Key should dump Collins.

If Peters can’t prove this was anything more than a casual hypothetical quip loosely related to Collins then Key should make it clear who won’t do any deals with Peters after the election.

If Key doesn’t act then whoever is at fault here will get away with doing something disgraceful.


Peters slams dirty politics, then gets dirty

In an interview with Patrick Gower yesterday Winston Peters condemned dirty politics – with a strained straight face – and then threw some trademark dirt, making an accusation about Judith Collins without details or evidence. Collins has strongly denied the claim.

This smear from Peters appeared to be intended to destabilise National and was as NZ Herald reported “a move that could have been taken as an attempt to wrong foot Mr Key ahead of the debate.” Key looked far from relaxed during the debate.

Peters was first asked about his views on ‘dirty politics’, a topic he is very familiar with from experience.

Patrick Gower: I want to start by asking you about dirty politics and the impact of dirty politics on New Zealand politics. What are your thoughts on that?

Winston Peters: Well this is the worst that I’ve ever experienced it in my political career. Ah, it’s extraordinarily disappointing because it’s taking the focus off the key issues economically and socially of this campaign, ah and the sad thing is how many people are prepared to tolerate it or deny that it’s going on and yet it is going on and it’s serious, but I suppose the benefit is at least that sort of thing is being outed.

Patrick Gower:Yeah and obviously top of that list is the Prime Minister who doesn’t think there’s anything really wrong with dirty politics. What does that tell us?

It tells us that Peters and Gower discussing dirty politics is very ironic given their involvement in it over the years. 3 News and Peters teamed up before the last election to milk the cup of tea debacle.

Winston Peters:Well you know he claimed to have highest of standards and what we’ve got here is you know know something that’s ah, well it cannot be explained away, it cannot be ignored, and the Prime Minister needs to clean up that deck that he’s got and as soon as possible.

Patrick Gower: Yeah so with the Prime Minister needs to do something about dirty politics…

Winston Peters: He’s got to, that’s what leadership requires, if you catch people doing that sack them, you’ve got to, and you get a decision you know if you’ve got people like Judith Collins behaving like that then they must go, you can’t leave them there because it contaminates the whole political arrangement, and the image of the party. 

Patrick Gower:So what is Judith Collins staying in this position, staying as a Minister, what is this doing?

Winston Peters: Well it shows the Prime Minister is not really acting like a leader and he won’t like that.

Ah but more importantly she has been involved in, with others and outsiders that is from the National Party, and insiders, in the replacement of a lot of MPs, that’s why so many are going, they won’t talk because they’ve been offered jobs in the future if National wins, that’s why they’re keeping silent.

Ah but she’s been involved in their replacements, the choosing of candidates who are well inclined towards supporting her to be the next leader.

Several assertions there in typical Peters fashion. It’s unlikely he’ll try to back them up with any facts.To an extent what he claims here would not be uncommon in any party – NZ First have just lured back Ron Marks who is well inclined towards supporting Peters, and Andrew Williams has been dumped and is not so inclined to support Peters. Same for Brendon Horan.

Patrick Gower: So what Judith Collins has been involved in some sort of internal machinations, or back room manouvering…

Winston Peters: Well back room manouvering for the choice of new candidates of whom seventeen are coming in as you know, most of whom have been hand picked to be candidates because they support Judith Collins.

Peters is implying here that most of the seventeen have been hand picked by Collins. That sounds very unlikely. There are many others in the National Party who will be wanting to do their own manouvering – that’s politics.

Patrick Gower: So she has been rigging the candidacies or working hard to install her own people, is that…?

Winston Peters: Precisely. I have been in the National Party, I was in the National Party long before any of these people and I know what sometimes happens, ah but this is on a new scale that we’ve never seen before.

Patrick Gower: What is it, factionalism led by Judith Collins?

Winston Peters: Yes.

Patrick Gower: What, so there’s a Judith Collins, what what what exactly is she doing? What exactly is there?

Winston Peters: Well this might come as a surprise to you and I’m going to put it to you and nobody else has heard this, but I had back door approaches myself from the Collins camp.

Patrick Gower:What, what to do?

Winston Peters:Well if you can’t talk to John Key after the election can you talk to her. That’s pretty bold isn’t it.

You may as well know and that’s a fact and I’m giving it to you now because it happened. I know who the baggage person for her was and I know what’s behind it.

Patrick Gower: So you’re saying that someone from Judith Collins camp approached you saying if you can’t talk to John Key talk to her?

Winston Peters: That’s precisely what I’m saying.

Patrick Gower: That’s incredibly disloyal to the Prime Minister.

Winston Peters:Well, I would have thought the Prime Minister knows that, I mean if he’s keeping his air to the ground as he should be doing he would know that.

Patrick Gower: So Judith Collins went behind John Key’s back to say that you Winston Peters could negotiate with her rather than him?

Winston Peters: Well I didn’t think the bag man was coming without her authority.

Patrick Gower: So her bag man approached you?

Winston Peters: Yes.

Patrick Gower: And you know how do we know you’re not, you’re not making this up?

Winston Peters:Well why would I bother to make it up?

Why indeed. It could be that Peters is telling the full truth. He may be able to prove this – but he often makes claims designed to damage opponents without producing any evidence. Some would see this as dirty politics.

Gower didn’t quiz Peters, he just let him make his assertions virtually unchallenged. For example if this happened when did it happen?

To do this Collins would have to be incredibly brazen and also very naive and stupid. Incorporating a leadership coup in coalition negotiations – bartering baubles and Prime Ministers – seems preposterous.

There’s a few things to remember in the lead up to this.

Peters has put a lot of effort over the past few months in trying to destroy Collin’s political career, his brand of dirty politics. It would be incredible that after this Collins approached him proposing to do one of the dirtiest deals possible post election.

Gower is a willing part of this hit job. He has made it clear recently that he thinks Collins should be dumped.

Gower has also just promoted Peters as kingmaker on the back of a 3 News poll.

Something feels very fishy about all this. It may be that Collins has gone crazy in a quest for power.

Or it could be that Winston Peters is playing his brand of dirty politics, with the willing assistance of Gower.

Full interview: Winston Peters on Judith Collins and Dirty Politics

Three polls

There have been three polls in three days with some different movements and results showing that polls are indicative of current opinion only and can’t be taken as definitive election predictions – they ask people’s opinion if the election was held today and not how they might vote at the election.

NZ Herald
3 News
Reid Res.
National            50.8            50.7            45.0            48.8
Labour            26.1            24.1            26.4            25.5
Greens            11.8            11.4            13.5            12.2
NZ First              4.0              5.0              6.3              5.1
Conservatives              2.7              3.3              4.6              3.5
Internet-Mana              2.2              3.4              2.1              2.6
Maori Party              0.7              1.0              0.7              0.8
ACT Party              0.7              0.3              0.3              0.4
UnitedFuture              0.1              0.2              0.4              0.2

Margins of error are about +/-3 for National but less for lower results see this table from Stats Chat:

Lower and upper ‘margin of error’ limits for a sample of size 1000 and the observed percentage, under the usual assumptions of independent sampling

Percentage lower upper
1 0.5 1.8
2 1.2 3.1
3 2.0 4.3
4 2.9 5.4
5 3.7 6.5
6 4.6 7.7
7 5.5 8.8
8 6.4 9.9
9 7.3 10.9
10 8.2 12.0
15 12.8 17.4
20 17.6 22.6
30 27.2 32.9
50 46.9 53.1



Stuff/IPSOS poll

The third poll in three days shows that polls can only be taken as indicators of current support and are nowhere near being definitive indicators of election results.

Stuff/IPSOS results:

  • National 50.8% (-4.3)
  • Labour 26.1% (+3.6)
  • Greens 11.8% (+0.5)
  • NZ First 4.0% (+0.6)
  • Conservative Party 2.7% (-0.6)
  • Internet-Mana 2.2% (+0.1)
  • Maori Party 0.7% (-0.3)
  • ACT Party 0.7% (+0.2)
  • UnitedFuture 0.1% (+0.1)

These show different movements but with similar end results to yesterday’s NZ Herald poll.

The poll has a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent

Our poll provides a maximum sampling error of +/-3.1%-point, at the 95% confidence level. This means we can be 95% confident that the survey results are within 3.1% of the result had we surveyed the entire population of the NZ population, when the analysis is based on all respondents surveyed.

Note that maximum margin of error of 3.1% means it only applies to National on 50.8% – parties on lower percentages have smaller margins of error.

Stuff commentary: Nats riding high, Key sliding down

Details: IPSOS Polling Station


Disappointing debate, pointless polls

I was disappointed with the leaders debates. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, but I didn’t see anything that I thought wouold make difference.

Cunliffe held his own so won’t have been harmed by it. He interrupted too much and too many preachy wee speeches. Pros and cons on points made.

Key looked strained but probably won’t have harmed his chances, Some pros and cons as well, nothing remarkable.

Hosking allowed too much talking over each other, sometimes all three were trying to compete. Often seemed messy.

I doubt many minds would be changed.

The online and text polling and online metering were a farce, totally meaningless. There is no way of knowing who was voting or measuring responses so no way of knowing how biased the participants were.

The National minions seem to have been busier on TV1’s text poll and Labour’s on Newstalk ZB’s online poll. Or something. Tells us nothing useful.

They were worse than pointless, they add useless noise to commentary on the debate.


Excellent poll coverage from NZ Herald

NZ Herald (Audrey Young) poll coverage starkly contrasts with 3 News, giving clear results with good consideration of wider things like trends and polls from other sources in Digipoll: Minor parties surge as Labour sinks lower.

Summary of results:

The full party vote results compared with last week’s:

National 50.7 (up 0.7)
Labour 24.1 (down 1.1)
Greens 11.4 (down 2.3)
NZ First 5 (up 0.7)
Maori Party 1 (up 0.3)
Internet Mana 3.4 (up 1.3)
Conservatives 3.3 (up 0.7)
Act 0.3 (down 0.3)
United Future 0.2 (down 0.2)
PREFERRED PRIME MINISTER (compared with last week)
John Key 67.8 (up 3)
David Cunliffe 11.6 (down 2.8)
Winston Peters 8.2 (up 3.1)
Russel Norman 3.8 (up 0.3)

The poll of 750 eligible voters was conducted between August 21 and 27. The Party vote is of decided voters only and 7.9 per cent were undecided compared to 12.5 per cent last week.

This contrasts in some aspects with the 3 News/Reid Research poll yesterday – National, Labour down in 3 News poll  – which shows that a single poll can’t be taken as a definitive indication of an election outcome.

National are significantly higher and rising in this poll, and Labour are 2% lower and will be worried.

NZ First and Conservatives have risen but not as much, and Internet-Mana has jumped up potentially significantly.

Poor poll coverage by Gower and 3 News

3 News via Patrick Gower covered their latest poll result poorly. They showed either an awful knowledge of how polling works or they deliberately ignored polling 101 to promote misleading headlines.

Their online headline: Latest political poll big blow for John Key

National were down 2.5 to 45% – this will be a concern for National but it is a fairly moderate movement, well within the margin of error.

It probably reflects a reaction to how John Key has handled the fallout from ‘dirty politics’ (poorly) but it’s too soon to tell whether it is a temporary blip or a lasting change in support.

Labour were also down 2.5, to 26.4% – this should be at least as big a concern for them but the online article doesn’t mention it.

The lead paragraph and most of the article is on one theme:

John Key’s nightmare is suddenly real. Tonight’s 3 News political poll shows the Prime Minister can no longer do without New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

That’s nonsense. This is just one poll three and a half weeks out from the election. It is far from certain that the Prime Minister “can no longer do without” Winston Peters.

NZ First were up 1.7 to 6.3% and look a good bet to remain in Parliament but there’s no certainty they will maintain this level of support nor any certainty they will hold the balance of power post-election.

Gower led his 6 o’clock news coverage with…

Yes dirty politics has caused political chaos.

One poll over-reported is not political chaos.

Look at these numbers, National takes a hit down 2.5 to 45.5, this hurts, John Key knows he could be gone on this…

Key already knew (and has said so a number of times) he will be ‘gone’ if the election doesn’t go his way. National 44.5% in January, 45.9% in March.

…but Labour also take a hit, down to 26.4%, that’s a drop of 2.6, voters simply do not see them as an alternative.

What? National could be gone but there’s no alternative? It’s Labour’s lowest 3 news result since November 2011 but hey, that’s not significant.

The Greens go up, one of their best results on this poll…

Up 0.5 (a negligible change in polling terms) to 13.5% which is their best result in the Reid Research records back to Sep/Oct 2010. Trending up since May.

…and just look at this, Winston Peters up to 6.3 percent, over the threshold, Peters is back, and just wait to see the mess that this could cause.

Of course a mess is great for headlines but is far from assured despite Paddy’s best efforts to talk one up.

While Peters is obviously dominant – and Gower seems to have an obsession with him – it is actually NZ First, the party, not just Peters. There is no guarantee Peters will be back, despite Gower’s wishes.

Turning now to the minor parties and the Conservatives, up to 4.6% – obviously picking up a protest vote from right wing voters turned National…

They quite likely got some protest vote but Colin Craig has claimed there jump is due to their campaign mail box drop. Opinion shifts can be for many reasons.

…not over the five percent threshold, remember John Key did not do that electorate deal in East Coast Bays, and won’t he be regretting that right now.

Why would Key regret making a sensible decision based on one poll? If Conservatives can sustain this support it’s quite possible they could keep surging past the 5% threshold. Or their support could drop back again, polls can be temporary and fickle.

Gower reported Key “pleading with his supporters for help” (like every other party does in an election campaign) – Key: “if there’s any National supporter that was thinking about the fact that they might be able to stay at election day leave it up to everyone else, um, maybe this poll will give them a wake up call”. 

As for Internet-Mana, they are steady on 2.1%…

I think that’s quite notable. Internet-Mana were 0.2 in May and jumped to 1.8% in June when they combined and started campaigning, but since then have got 2.3 (July) and 2.0 (early August). Apart from one poll (Stuff/IPSOS having them up to 4% indications are Internet-Mana may have plateaued. Roy Morgan poll fortnightly and have always had them in the 1-2.5% range.

…and the other minor parties simply doing nothing and not worth talking about.

Small party support often moves late in an election campaign but Gower is totally dismissive, choosing to exclude them from any coverage. This makes it very difficult for small parties to be heard.

Turning now to seats in the house, this is worth talking about…

Some of the minor parties could be critical in this so are suddenly worth talking about.

…look at this, National 57 plus it’s allies that we say would get electorate seats, that would not be a majority in a 122 seat Parliament…

It’s far from certain it would be a 122 seat Parliament.

…they would only have 61 seats.

If a lot of uncertain results turned out as predicted by 3 News.

Turning now to the left wing block, they would get to 53 seats. It would all come down to New Zealand First’s 8 seats…

Again, far from certain that this exact result would be replicated in next month’s election.

…they would be needed to give John Key the power to govern, but if Winston Peters went to the left it would be a 61 all draw, now this is a hung Parliament, a tie, nobody could govern.

Apart from the many variables and assumptions involved this wouldn’t necessarily result in a hung Parliament. For example NZ First or Greens could agree to guarantee confidence and supply and remain on the cross benches. As much as Gower would love his poll to be definitive there are many possibilities.

It’s a realistic election night result.

It’s a possible result, but a non-tied or non-hung Parliament is far more likely.

Key would have to give Peters what he wants…

No, they would negotiate, and even on these numbers 57 versus 8 is a strong position. Some concessions would be made but Peters couldn’t dictate everything, that would be democratically ludicrous.

…or Peters could force another election.

Possibly, if Greens don’t step in. But there would be a lot of pressure on Peters to enable a stable Government. If he forced another election he and NZ First would be at high risk of being booted out by voters.

So first dirty politics, and now a political mess.

This is dirty poll reporting with a mess of assumptions and poorly considered assertions.

The report then showed sound bite edit of interviews with Key, Cunliffe, Peters, Craig. Typically Russell Norman described it sensibly as “dynamic is how…it’s dynamic at the moment”. Not in Gowers world, just before this Gower repeated his hung Parliament dream. Then 3:45 into the item Gower says:

But the political reality is it comes down to Winston Peters prefers as Prime Minister…

That’s just one amongst a number of possibilities so it’s far from a reality.

…he could choose Key or force a new election.

Dirty politics changing everything.

Not really, two or three months ago when NZ First rose to 5.1% Gower was just as adamant that that changed everything.

So Key has suffered a blow from dirty politics but it is not fatal, he could still govern on this, he’d just need Peters would be unlikely to force another election knowing he would be punished by voters and probably annihilated if he did…

Why mention that now rather than in earlier predictions? 

…but just imagine the negotiations, a true nightmare scenario.

Gower’s nightmare is he would be shut out of the negotiations and would have to wait a week or two for a dramatic story.

And remember Labour on 26%, that’s a shocker, they are actually going backwards here.

So if they are going backwards by the time we get to the election the actual result could be different to Paddy’s poll?

Yet voters clearly think that Key has not handled dirty politics properly…

The poll does nothing to prove that.

So, dirty politics, a crazy campaign, and now chaotic results.

There is no result until September 20. The only thing that’s chaotic here is Gower’s reporting of just one of many pre-election polls.

Remember that polls ask “who would you vote for if an election was held today” – and the polling period is already historical. Polls don’t try to predict how people would vote on election day, they can’t look into the future. Neither should Gower.

There are 24 days to go.

That’s one accurate thing Gower has reported. He mentioned ‘dirty politics’ throughout his report but ignored this only fact in making all his dramatic projections.

Well informed voters rely a lot on media coverage. Reporting like this is grossly misleading and serves voters very poorly. It serves our democracy very poorly.

Gower is playing dirty politics with our election, putting his own ill-informed dramatics ahead of reason, facts and polling basics.

A political editor should be much better than this. 

UPDATE: And Gower is just now talking on Firstline admitting he got previous predictions wrong, particularly regarding Colin Craig and the Conservatives. He has mentioned that Conservative advertising may have affected this poll result.


National, Labour down in 3 News poll

Both Labour and National are down over 2% in the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll. NZ First and the Conservative have the biggest rises.

  • National 45% (-2.5)
  • Labour 26.4% (-2.6)
  • Greens 13.5% (+0.5)
  • NZ First 6.3% (+1.7)
  • Conservative Party 4.6% (+2.1)
  • Internet-Mana 2.1% (+0.1)
  • Maori Party 0.7% (-0.1)
  • UnitedFuture 0.4% (+0.2)
  • ACT Party 0.3% (no change)

This may reflect public annoyance at dirty politics – both the large parties tend to be blamed together.

Colin Craig claims a letter box drop of a campaign pamphlet is behind his party’s rise but that will be only part of the reason.

3 News: Latest political poll big blow for John Key

Details as per Curia:

Polling Company: Reid Research

Poll Method: Random Phone

Poll Size: 1,000 respondents (3.1% maximum margin of error)


Polling Company: Reid Research

Poll Method: Random Phone

Poll Size: 1,000 respondents (3.1% maximum margin of error)


Dates: 20 to 25 August 2014 approx

Client: 3 News

The new results aren’t on the table here yet but sit should be updated:

Poll shakeup – Conservatives jump to 4.6%

Patrick Gower has tweeted a teaser on a 3 News poll to be released in the news tonight.

3-News Reid Research poll out tonight – all the fallout from “Dirty Politics”… A real shake-up.

However the Conservative Party may have jumped the gun with their result (they quickly deleted the tweet). If they are correct it certainly hints at significant changes.

It would make their 3 News/Reid Research result over the past few polls:

  • May 2.3%
  • June 2.8%
  • July 2.7%
  • August 3-13 2.5%
  • August 19-25 4.6%

This could be a reaction to ‘dirty politics’ and it’s aftermath in part but could also be due to the extensive advertising the Conservatives have been doing.

UPDATE: 3 News has confirmed what had leaked out – in a poll to be released Conservatives are up 2.2 to 4.6%

Patrick Gower:

3 News Political Editor Patrick Gower says tonight’s poll shows Dirty Politics has given the political landscape “a real good shake”.

“Not only does it have the Conservatives nearly at five per cent – there are also significant results for some of the other parties.”

“Without giving too much away – there really has been some fallout from the Dirty Politics saga,” he says.

“A lot of people have views on what John Key should do about Judith Collins. He hasn’t acted against her – we will give the public’s view on that.”

Sounds ominous for National but not surprising considering how poorly John Key addressed the issues raised.

Currently published poll results for 3 News/Reid Research


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