Peters “plotting to eat Labour’s lunch”

Another very good insight into the NZ First party and congress by Branko Marcetic at The Spinoff: Winston Peters is plotting to eat Labour’s lunch. And it’s working

The New Zealand First Party tends to be more associated in the public mind with mobility scooters and rest homes than Tinder and flatting. So as a 27-year-old, I wasn’t exactly the typical demographic most people imagine when they think of NZ First members. And as a non-native-born New Zealander, the party’s anti-immigrant bent would hardly suggest its conference as the place I would choose to hole myself up for most of last weekend. But in order to get a proper sense of the party and its members, it was very much worth it.

It was very much worth it, this is some of the best political reporting I have seen. Marcetic has dug beneath the hubris.

All around the conference in south Auckland, there was a palpable sense of excitement. After the electoral wipeout of 2008, followed by clawing back over the 5 percent threshold in 2011 and improving further in 2014, there was a general feeling the party was destined for even greater heights this year, buoyed by electoral trends in the rest of the world. Party members milled about, chatting excitedly.

They have good reason to be excited at this stage of the campaign. The article gives a good insight into the party membership. And then it looks at The Man.

The leader’s 40-minute paean to the working poor, declining middle class and a country buckling under the devilish hat-trick of unsustainable immigration, political correctness and 30 years of neoliberalism, capped off the two-day event. It was as pure a distillation as you’re ever going to get of Peters’ multi-decade success and survival in politics, and his current resurgence.

Peters understands the travelling medicine show aspect of politics, and added a performer’s touch – even a sense of festivity – to his speech.

Unlike other party leaders, Peters clearly has no interest in appearing what the media tends to view as “stable” or “reasonable”, but so often comes across as staid and dull. Like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, he’s aiming to channel the anger of the ordinary working person, and aim it at venal politicians who “work for the few, but not for you”.

The net result, not unlike with Trump, is that even if you despise Peters, you’ll watch his speech because you know it will be entertaining. How many neutrals would willingly subject themselves to an address by Andrew Little or Bill English?

Who?

As I’ve written about previously, Peters’ speech – and indeed, the party’s focus as a whole – seems designed to target the disaffected section of the public that would have once flocked to Labour, but is uninspired by today’s iteration of the party. Hence it was Peters paying tribute to the ordinary working Kiwi and launching repeated, angry broadsides against neoliberal economics – an attack he pointedly stressed for the media – and hence the party’s members are pushing for policies at times swiped from the first Labour government.

Compare this to the approach of the Labour Party, which seems headed toward another crushing electoral result. It’s not hard to make the case NZ First is animating voters that might have once gone for Labour by projecting an untrammelled anti-neoliberal message.

I think it’s too soon to call a crushing defeat for Labour. They have just announced  reasonable fiscal policy that has been reported fairly positively. But did many voters take any notice? Grant Robertson fronted the announcement with Andrew Little tacked alongside.  If the election is decided on perceptions of leadership Labour may well be crushed.

Labour’s campaign to date has lacked any real alternative vision to rally potential voters to its flag. Unlike Peters, who is angrily painting a picture of a country in decline and offering as a solution the rollback of neoliberalism, Labour’s “Fresh Approach” slogan all but implies that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong.

As one op-ed charged, the party is essentially “promising not to change too much”. Meanwhile its policies, however well-meaning, are often overly complicated, failing to excite the ordinary Kiwi voter, and contrasting with the popular, universal benefits the party enacted under Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser.

The lack of excitement about Labour policies is not just the nature and complexity of the policies, it’s not just the struggle of little to appeal, media and probably many voters turned off Labour some time ago and it will take something special to turn on a beacon of hope for them.

Perhaps NZ First’s resurgence won’t end up being as dramatic as it now appears. A lot can change in two months, including Labour’s poll numbers. But as Labour scrambles to capture voters’ imagination, it may yet ask itself how the party of workers allowed an ex-lawyer from Auckland’s St Mary’s Bay to steal its shtick.

It’s remarkable that Peters is appealing more than Labour to the battlers and the disaffected.

NZ First’s resurgence is real, but is it sustainable for the next two months?

Peters has done well as portraying himself as a political maverick, even though that image is debatable.

But when it comes to the business end of the election voters will look more closely at what effect an enlarged NZ First might have on Government.

New Zealand voters have tended to back stability and incremental change only. Many have warmed to NZ First, but they may baulk at the possibility of chaos.

We will find out in just over two months what the voters think, and then a week or few after that we will see what sort of coalition government we end up with.

It is interesting to see that after attending NZ First’s congress Marcetic is looking most on how NZ First will impact on Labour and not National.

Maybe after eating Labour’s lunch Peters will try to scoff National’s dinner.

31 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 21, 2017

    Anyone would think after reading that that Labour was destined to be National’s coalition partner rather than NZF. Can’t see English implementing an anti-neoliberal agenda.

    But Winston’s lot buy the rhetoric and don’t care about realiry.

    • Gezza

       /  July 21, 2017

      Nonsense, surely Al? Winston’s favourite phrase is “The reality is …”.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 21, 2017

        I think you prove my point, G. If they cared, what followed would send them home.

        • Gezza

           /  July 21, 2017

          Half of them probably suffer from memory loss, Al.

          • Conspiratoor

             /  July 21, 2017

            Ha de ha. Remind me again …who are you?

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Why are you still in the car park? 😳 Winnie’s been talking over the road, in the RSA, for the last 20 minutes. 😕

            • Corky

               /  July 21, 2017

              He had breakfast with you this morning…he gave you the burnt toast and told you it was tofu.. What? No, I’m not Blazer.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Are they having power cuts in Oregon c? You keep disappearing…
              I had some suggestions for Scotty about health care.
              https://yournz.org/2017/07/19/let-obamacare-fail/#comment-203191

              (Not quite sure what I said at the top there, might’ve been something about adult entertainment, cos I thort you were casting aspegergions on me iPad. PG was probably concerned about what it might do to your emotional state. He’s a good dad. 👍🏼)

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              @ c. Look at them. They’re the leftovers from Rob’s Mob. That’s who Winston models himself on. Him & Benny Hinn. That’s why all his MP’s laugh like hyenas when he makes lameass wisecracks in the House & suck up to him like lapdogs, even when he makes them look like jackasses in public. And what Rob done – that’s what Winnie would end up doing to the country in power.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  July 21, 2017

              You’ll keep G. No time for blogging. Battling bravely to keep the tari taake fed. Meantime do your best to remain upbeat, there is some good in all things if you look hard …even politicians. Later

  2. Tipene

     /  July 21, 2017

    In his story, Branko is also missing a key feature of NZ First that the mainstream media is trying to bury – the multitude of different immigrant cultures who are members of the Party, and who are saying the same thing Peters is about immigration.

    You won’t see this feature on any TV coverage either – myths would be broken all over the place.

    • Gezza

       /  July 21, 2017

      True, in a way – but what exactly is he saying about immigration that they’re buying, who’s he talking about, & are they all buying the same messages?

  3. Corky

     /  July 21, 2017

    ”Maybe after eating Labour’s lunch Peters will try to scoff National’s dinner.”

    National could apply a reverse sleeper on Winstson by promising the public they will keep Peters honest and stop any of his( supposed) mad hatter policies. National may even want to bring Trump into any picture. That’ll scare some of those vacillating undecided voters.
    They will scurry back to National for safety.

    • Gezza

       /  July 21, 2017

      If they did, would get out there and bloody vote for National on 23 September then?

      • Gezza

         /  July 21, 2017

        😡 * line 1. Mentally insert ‘you’ after ‘would’.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 21, 2017

          Did that. Corky should too.

          • Corky

             /  July 21, 2017

            ?

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              I’m hoping he means vote ! Corks. 😳
              Garn. Paula needs ya vote bro. Don’t let ‘er down !

            • Corky

               /  July 21, 2017

              Why? I can’t lose. As I’ve stated ad nauseam. Love your concern though. Keep it up.

              By the way. Who are you voting for?

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Carn. Man up ! Email Paula. Tell ‘er how ya feel. She might have a word to Bill? They might meet ya halfway & ban muslims from just the countries Trumpy’s got it in for? Garn, give it a go mate! 👍🏼 💪🏼

              https://paulabennett.national.org.nz/contact

            • Corky

               /  July 21, 2017

              I think you are a Lefty, but you are trying to present as middle of the road.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Garn. Ya just grumpy. I used to be a lefty. But, you know, it’s just got too ridiculous. Come on mate. Vote. Just look staunch when ya roll up to the booth. Flick ya head, just once. Just say “bro” & keep movin’. Lock ya car. Put the keys in ya pocket. Ya don’t have to be long. It’ll still be there when ya get back. Probably. 😬 👍🏼

          • Corky

             /  July 21, 2017

            Lets look at your problem:

            1- Labour- yes, but no.
            2- Greens- Ditto
            3- National- are you joking.
            4- ACT- you’d rather live in Israel.
            5 -Dunn and the other minors…yeah, no
            6- Nah.

            Contrast that with Alan. He rocks up, ticks the bue box, and is home in no time to walk the dogs.

            You need to pace yourself. The election is in September. Hold it together, then we can all have a good laugh on election night.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Well, that’s not a bad summary. You might be surprised to know I didn’t just rule out ACT. National needs to tidy some shit up so they need a bit of a gee up from other parties’ MPs & they don’t need my vote. Labour, goneburgers, I’m afraid. Need a total rethink. Greens, well, Metz, & too fringe. NZF? Nah. National Embarassment. Don’t want Muldoon back & Winnie destroys coalition governments, he’s got form. So, Party that’s actually doing any good for their constituency, fixing problems, trying new approaches, targeted spending, outcome focussed, stick to their principles? Working to improve governance, race relations, etc etc.
              Maori Party. Garn – give ’em a go mate! Be good for ya!

  4. Gezza

     /  July 21, 2017

    By the way. Who are you voting for?

    Aw come on. I’ve already bloody told ya mate! Have you had breakfast?
    1. Candidate: Greg O’Connor
    2. Party: Maori Party.

    • Corky

       /  July 21, 2017

      ‘Aw come on. I’ve already bloody told ya mate! ‘

      Yes, I’ve told you, too , but you seem to be having problems accepting my decision. That’s your instinctive Lefty trait coming to the surface.

      • Gezza

         /  July 21, 2017

        Nah, bro!. Only a dickhead would go:

        “Aw .. fuk. No party’s banning muslims! I’ll bloody show them! Bastards! I won’t bloody vote! That’ll bloody show them! That’ll make them ban bloody muslims. And Maoris!”

        Garn, carn Corks. Yer not a dickhead. You don’t wanna be a vote-bludger. Bludging off Al’s vote. One of the missing bloody million. Get in there mate! Vote for all ya worth! Vote for any tosser, I don’t care. Be like Nike mate. Just do it! ✔️ 💪🏼 👍🏼

        • Corky

           /  July 21, 2017

          You must allow me the right to choose….that’s what our soldier bequeathed to us.

  5. sorethumb

     /  July 21, 2017

    But Winston’s lot buy the rhetoric and don’t care about realiry.
    ………
    Kerry McDonald analyses the many challenges the country faces and concludes we need effective leadership and recognition that good policy, in a sound strategic framework, is critical
    https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/82115/kerry-mcdonald-analyses-many-challenges-country-faces-and-concludes-we-need-effective

  1. Peters “plotting to eat Labour’s lunch” — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition