NZ First targeting regions

New Zealand First will have their conference in Dunedin this weekend.The theme will be “It’s time”.

Leading into this in an interview with NZ Herald Winston Peters says they will be increasing their focus on the regions – Winston Peters: Regional NZ will be our election battleground.

In an interview with the Herald before the conference, Peters said the party would redouble its focus on regional New Zealand to grow its vote.

The 71-year-old has spent less time in Parliament lately in favour of his Northland electorate and the regions, with recent trips to Dunedin, Dannevirke and Kaikohe.

“We are seriously getting around the provinces,” he said. “The Greens can cough and get in the media. We pack halls and don’t. We pack halls in this country like no other political party.”

Peters is as good as any politician at coughing and getting media coverage. And he’s better than most at packing halls, but he puts a lot more effort into old style campaigning than anyone else.

There has been growing speculation that former Labour MP Shane Jones will leave the diplomatic corps and stand for NZ First in Whangarei against National MP Shane Reti.

There has been speculation on Jones joining NZ First for years, going back to when he was a Labour MP. If Jones stood for NZ First in Whangarei he would probably be very competitive there.

Peters would not name names but said there were more people interested in standing for NZ First than any time in its 23-year history.

“There are seats around the country that we can capture…we have a list of them but we are not disclosing where they are at this point in time.

“We are keeping our powder shot dry. We won Northland by totally and utterly ambushing their arrogance. So you can understand our desire to keep our plans to ourselves.”

Details perhaps, but Peters has been sharing his plans a bit in this interview.

While National is vulnerable to shedding support it’s not just them that NZ First are targeting.

NZ First deputy-leader Ron Mark has recently turned attention from National to Labour during exchanges in Parliament, accusing the fellow opposition party of stealing policy.

Peters reacted angrily after Little said the party was considering policy that would write-off student debt for graduates who worked in certain public service jobs in the regions – similar to existing NZ First policy.

NZ First had been called racist and xenophobic for calling for lower immigration levels in the past, Peters said, and didn’t like to see other long-standing policies “stolen”.

He did not think much of the memorandum of understanding between Labour and the Green Party: “It’s not for me to comment on what their political strategy might be. Suffice to say it’s not a winning one”.

The memorandum has not been the game changer (yet) that Greens and Labour were hoping for. Greens seem to have hit a support ceiling and Labour have not only failed to recover from an awful result last election, they are at risk of collapsing further. Peters no doubt senses this.

Peters continued his long-standing position of not commenting on possible coalition deals after the election.

So voters have no idea what he might do, something he keeps getting away – to an extent. It hasn’t worked in getting NZ First into government since 2005.

“Will we be ready for [the election’s] ramifications? Of course we will be ready. But we don’t talk about it as a caucus. In fact, I do my best to discourage anybody worrying about where they fit in the day after the election.”

He might have to do better discouraging his MPs: In response to The political tides are all flowing the way of ‘kingmaker’ Winston Peters:

ClaytonMitchellTweet

Peters could remind Mitchell about counting kings before the election has hatched.

NZ First could potentially get anywhere between 5% and 20% in the next election, with 8-15% looking quite doable.

They are attractive to the disgruntled and disillusioned, but their biggest asset, Peters, is also their biggest deterrent. He is good at picking up protest votes but recent elections have shown an electorate reluctance to crown Peters with the power to dictate.

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4 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  2nd September 2016

    PG: “NZ First could potentially get anywhere between 5% and 20% in the next election, with 8-15% looking quite doable”.

    Cmon, that’s stretching it a bit…….mid-high teens?? Will never happen.

    I have no doubt the PR Greens-Labour agreement sealed their fate as far as Winston was concerned. Of course whilst he still continues to pick up soft Labour and National supporters he will not tell us his true intentions in terms of preferred partner after the election.

    Reply
  2. Corky

     /  2nd September 2016

    Don’t foget the new immigrant party with a reported potential 500,000 voter base.

    Reply

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