Winston versus Jacinda

There is growing media attention on where the power lies between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister (and recent Acting Prime Minister) Winston Peters.

Yesterday Richard Harman at Politik:  Is Winston is about to have another go at Labour?

The Government’s controversial industrial relations legislation appears to be the latest flashpoint in the ongoing tussle for power between Labour and NZ First.

At the heart of the row is a clause in the new legislation which would require employers to be part of a collective industrial agreement if a union demands they be.

The clause applies to so-called Multi-Employer Collective Agreements, known as MECAs.

POLITIK understands that NZ First wants the right of employers to opt out of MECAs restored.

One political source told POLITIK that the dispute between Labour and NZ First over this could turn into a real “shit fight”.

It will come on top of the very public difference between NZ First Leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week over refugee numbers.

The problem for NZ First is that the Bill went through Cabinet before it went to the Select Committee which means that it is now Government policy which they are bound to support because of their coalition agreement.

The final Bill cannot pass without NZ First support but were they to withdraw it the Government would face a political crisis. In effect, NZ First would have broken the coalition.

That would seem an unlikely prospect.

Perhaps. So far Peters seems to have got away with playing a disproportionately strong 7% hand, with Ardern and Labour sort of at his mercy.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): The Winston and Jacinda show – it’s time for Ardern to push back

There is an edge to Jacinda Ardern’s answers these days that we haven’t heard before. That should probably not come as a surprise.

The criticism of Ardern’s government has started to look like a pile-on as it reels from one blow to the next – the war with business, one minister gone, a second minister under a huge cloud, the Abby Hartley controversy, and an emboldened NZ First looking like it’s running rings around Labour and Ardern.

All Governments have bad patches and that is what Labour has been consoling itself with as the relentless pressure on its ministers and Ardern shows no sign of abating.

As – still – Labour’s most potent, even only, weapon, Ardern is being forced to front every issue.

Some of that is unavoidable – Ardern had to front the Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri debacles as prime minister and Labour leader.

But is Labour leaning too heavily on Ardern behind the scenes as well?

Ardern’s biggest headaches aren’t just internal, but her relationship with NZ First, which seems increasingly to be on a collision course with Labour over flagship policies like the refugee quota and law and order.

It was columnist Jane Clifton who coined the phrase “Win-cinda” for the Winston and Jacinda show a few weeks after the election but it never took, presumably because no-one doubted Ardern’s power was at its zenith at that point, while Peters was  “Mr 7 percent”, a reflection of NZ First’s result on election night.

But something has changed since then and there is a growing perception that Peters is at the very least reining Labour in, or at worst, ruling the roost.

Ardern needs to push back before that perception becomes entrenched.

Some of that perception is down to a couple of deserved bloody noses over the two-strikes legislation and the refugee quota, both policies which Labour acted as though they had in the bag before getting agreement from NZ First.

But NZ First’s position on industrial relations reforms will be a red rag to a bull in Labour given that the legislation went through both the Cabinet and select committee process with NZ First.

Peters is a wily old politician who is likely to keep pushing for every advantage.

Ardern is learning a Labour leader and as Prime Minister. Time will tell whether exerts sufficient authority over Peters, and if she does, how Peters will react.


  1. Zedd

     /  12th September 2018

    again… welcome to MMP

    there are 3 parties in Govt. NOT just one plus a few ‘hangers on’.. they do seem to have more in common than opposed ! BUT obviously they do not agree on every issue.. its called ‘compromise’; better to be ‘in Govt.’ than 3 more years in opposition.. 🙂
    after 9 loooooong years of NATL-act-maori-u’f

    • artcroft

       /  12th September 2018

      Three parties? What’s the third? I can only recall Labour/NZF.

      • Zedd

         /  12th September 2018


        there maybe 2 parties ‘in cabinet’… BUT I’m certain that the Green party are in this Govt.; part of Confidence & supply agreement & ministers too 🙂

      • lurcher1948

         /  12th September 2018

        The dak smoking rastas

  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  12th September 2018

    Hung … drawn… waiting for the quartering.

    A slow moving train wreck unfolding… an inexperienced pollie being schooled by a wily old fox..

    The only thing holding Winston back is the thought of losing the perks of office. In my opinion he is a narcissistic personality but has thought a lot of willpower mainly constrained his worst impulses… but it wont take much to get him to go completely of the reservation… National must be sorting through the possible triggers to get him to go completely ape and explode the coalition…

    Pass the popcorn…

  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  12th September 2018

    Pete… the lack of an edit function is just horrible… police in my post below should read pollie

    • Gezza

       /  12th September 2018

      Don’t worry about it. I’m streets ahead of you in the proof-reading stuff ups department today. I probably need a lie-down or to go and feed an eel or something.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  12th September 2018

        I hate it when I see a ypot just too leat to change it…

        Haven’t you feeled the eeds yet ?

        • Gezza

           /  12th September 2018

          Yes. Only Eli though. He is a fussy little brat. I will post in GC later.

  4. David

     /  12th September 2018

    I doubt Ardern minds Peters saving her from herself she has pretty poor judgement and is not exactly an uber confident person and her poor decision making has probably shattered even that.
    So she doesnt get to introduce 1970s employment law or bring in 150 refugees well its probably no bad thing as that sort of nonsense is probably only popular with half a dozen people anyway. Best just blame it on coalition politics and avoid any unnecessary stress with implementing something.

  5. Gezza

     /  12th September 2018

    I don’t believe there is anythink that Jacinda can do to control or reign in Winston Peters.

    He actually did a better job of managing the coalition and handling Questions In The House than she did when he was at the helm for six weeks.

    If she thought she could maybe do sumpthink like get Grant to withhold funding unless Winston stops undermining her and Labour she would be dreaming.

    She is an accidental PM no one was expecting to get, Labour owe their and her position entirely to Winston’s cunning, & there’s not much more to her thinking than you would expect from an excited third-former.

    • David

       /  12th September 2018

      Peters seems to have taken on a paternalistic attitude to a young lady somewhat out of her depth, there is an affection there which will last for as long as he has her where he wants her.

      If she follows Watkins advice he would take it pretty personally after steering her through her first year, would be pretty ugly.

    • artcroft

       /  12th September 2018

      Not fan then Gezza.

      • Gezza

         /  12th September 2018

        I’ve said elsewhere today she is by far the dumbest PM we’ve had in my lifetime.
        Robertson is running Labour. Winston is running the government, or such parts of it as he wants to.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  12th September 2018

          And in mine.

          She’s so damned gushing and girly. Long hair can look great on older women, but not when it’s messy, unbrushed and even looking unwashed. She just doesn’t LOOK like a PM.

          Julie Bishop looks really professional; her clothes are right, her hair has a great but simple cut (I don’t know what it costs, but it’s worth it) She looks more like a PM than JA, who looks like a harassed mum. does.

          Even Marama Davison is looking polished these days.

          • lurcher1948

             /  12th September 2018

            You, critics, are pathetic,WE WERE RUN BY A MONEY MARKET DEALER called Sir Key,and then a farmer,LETS GET THE CHOW BROTHERS to run New Zealand and it would be legal to be screwed,by the GOVT and CHINA,

  6. Gezza

     /  12th September 2018

    Item one on 1ewes at 6 is “cracks in the coalition”; “has Winston Peters got too much power” for the Labour Government to implement policies it keeps announcing that it then can’t proceed with because NZF has gone and vetoed it, and on NZ First reportedly vetoing the Crown Relations Authority Jacinda has just announced (featuring Winston giving a sophistical & obfscating answer to whether he had torpedoed it).

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  12th September 2018

      Winston is the circus ringmaster. Jacinda jumps through his hoops.

      • Gezza

         /  12th September 2018

        That was the angle of the item. Surprisingly they were gunning for Tractor Girl. Or they may have thought they were gunning for the Silver Fox, but their coverage simply exposed how dim & useless Labour’s leader really is.

  7. Gezza

     /  12th September 2018

    Here’s Winston, helping Jacinda out during Question Time today. 1ewes featured a short clip of Jacinda responses, not flatteringly.

  8. Missy

     /  13th September 2018

    This shows the weakness of Labour and the Government. Labour are not the largest party in Parliament, and it seems they are aware of it, and even with NZ First support they still do not have more seats than National, this makes for a precarious position when it comes to getting Government legislation through and gives NZ First and, to a lesser extent, the Greens, strong leverage for their own agendas. Labour needs both to get legislation through, a little different to National for most of their nine years.

    This will be a real test for Jacinda, and regardless of what happens if it looks like Winston is running the show to the public this can – and probably will – end badly for her and Labour as a one term Government, though to be fair it could end worse for Winston with NZ First chucked out.

    • I suspect this is Peters’ swansong, so he has everything to gain by trampling Ardern underfoot and nothing to lose. He picked her precisely because he knew he could dominate her; not because he thought she would make a good PM. This was always all about Winston Peters – Mr 7%; Ardern has been disposable fluff from the start. Oh the frabjous joys of MMP….

      Who was it said “Old age and cunning beats youth and enthusiasm every time.” She is as a lamb to the slaughter. And frankly the sooner the better; she has all the statesmanlike qualities of a teenage beauty blogger.