ACT Party conference

The ACT Party will have their annual conference tomorrow in Auckland.

Bumper Conference
ACT is on the march and looking forward to our election year conference this Saturday at Orakei Bay. If you have been putting it off, it is not too late to register here. Not only will you be showing your support for ACT’s revival, but the program is filled with excellent speakers, entertainment, and don’t forget food.

ACT need a revival to get their party vote up to get more MPs to join a lobe David Seymour if he wins the Epsom electorate again.

Past results since MMP:

  • 1996 – 10.10% (13 seats)
  • 1999 – 7.04% (9 seats)
  • 2002 – 7.14% (9 seats)
  • 2005 – 1.51% (2 seats)
  • 2008 – 3.65% (5 seats)
  • 2011 – 1.07% (1 seat)
  • 2014 – 0.69% (1 seat)

Jamie Whyte didn’t appeal as leader in 2014, and 2011 was when Don Brash hijacked the party and ousted Rodney Hide, leaving only the odd choice of John Banks to win Epsom.

The Program
See full details here, but speakers include Leonie Freeman of Goodman Properties on the housing market, Former Labour Party President Mike Williams speaking for the Howard League on how to get smart on crime, and the New Zealand Initiative’s Eric Crampton on the truth about inequality. We expect David Seymour’s keynote speech to be his best yet.

The conference is likely to get some but not much media coverage. It is more to rally and encourage the troops.

I think Seymour has a good chance of retaining Epsom, but how the party vote goes will depend on whether ACT can come up with some more appealing candidates.

NZ Herald: David Seymour’s quest to rebuild Act

“We have to get some momentum behind Act and resurrect it as a party vote party, and that means getting to, at minimum, 1.3, 1.4 per cent to get a second MP,” Seymour said.

“I gave a speech a few weeks ago where I said the reason there has been no action on the housing crisis is because the average National MP owns 2.2 houses and doesn’t care. I don’t know if that’s enough, but it’s reasonably bold stuff I would have thought,” he said.

Polling indicates New Zealand First leader Winston Peters could be king-maker later this year. On the prospect of being in Government with Peters, Seymour said he would be prepared to “take one for the team”.

“If you have to choose between having him in Government with us, or him going with Labour and the Greens, then I guess I’d probably take one for the team. But I don’t think that’s a desirable outcome. The best you can say for the guy he is a charismatic crook.”

He spoke to the Herald from Dunedin, before heading to the Captain Cook pub for an O Week meet and greet with students.

“A lot of it is not what most people would regard as work – you spend a lot of time in transit, meeting people or going to functions … but it is still stuff you have to do, and it ends up being easily 80 hours a week. It is certainly pretty full on.

“We are lucky we have a pretty friendly, cooperative democracy. You look at all these people that are rude on Twitter, you wonder where they are in real life. They don’t seem to exist.”

Last year’s conference used precious exposure on an environmental policy to sell Landcorp to fund native wildlife sanctuaries. Has Act gone soft?

“I think it is something old, something new,” Seymour said of recent policies. “Act has always been a liberal party and a party of new ideas. That goes back the founding of the party. It was founded on a manifesto that had been audited by five different accounting firms. It has always been a policy-heavy party.”

I think Seymour has a good chance of retaining Epsom, but how the party vote goes will depend on whether ACT can come up with some additional appealing candidates.

Labour’s conference coverage

Labour seems to have had a successful conference and has received some fairly positive coverage.

Anthony Robins cherry picks some of the best in

Amongst the positives there were a couple of negatives, like this from Newshub.

Yesterday Labour also said it was considering a levy on businesses that don’t train and upskill their employees.

Robins grumps about that:

That last point is the one that some of the usual shills have run with of course, and naturally business isn’t keen

The ‘usual shill’ being David Farrar, as Robins ironically shills for Labour.

…but other than that, some pretty decent coverage for Labour, for Little, and for a successful conference.

That’s how it appears. It should have at least been good for Labour.

But Robins doesn’t mention one of the talking points of Andrew Little’s key policy announcement Labour: paid work for young unemployed.

Labour will:

  • give unemployed young people a job for six months doing work of public value, so they can gain work experience and avoid long-term unemployment.

Labour costed this at $60 million and this was questioned. It turns out that the calculation balances the costs of paying wages at the minimum rate plus costs of the scheme, less tax and costs already incurred such as the out of work benefit, which is fair enough.

But when pushed Little says the costing was based on an average four months in the scheme rather than their promoted six months. He says this is backed by research – again fair enough.

But it would have been simple to say this up front. Instead Labour left themselves open to being lax with numbers. This was easily avoidable and should have been predicted.

An example of Robins’ cherry picking – he quotes Claire Trevett’s article from The Herald:

Labour’s $60m plan for 6 months’ paid work for youth on dole

Labour leader Andrew Little says a proposal to give unemployed young people six months of full-time community work at the minimum wage will not be compulsory but there will be an expectation they take part – and possible sanctions if they don’t.

Little released the policy at the party’s annual conference in Auckland, where the focus is on jobs.

Expected to cost $60 million a year, it will provide unemployed people under the age of 24 with “jobs” in the community and environment, such as pest control work or riparian planting with the Department of Conservation, local councils or charities such as City Missions and food banks.

Dubbed “Ready for Work” it will be for those who have been on the dole for at least six months – but will pay the minimum wage of $15.25 an hour rather than the dole.

Little said 74,000 young people were not in work or training and there were now more than 10,000 unemployed people aged under 24 than a decade ago and Labour believed all young New Zealanders should be in work or training.

Trevett also wrote:

Little said those on the dole for more than six months would be expected to take part.

There were already sanctions in place to use on those who refused, but he hoped that would not be needed.

“The sanctions are a punitive approach to try and get the desired outcome. Those sanctions are there, we don’t want to take those away but the approach is to avoid that if at all possible.

Some young people occasionally do need a kick up the backside to get them out the door.”

He hoped mentors appointed to each worker would be able to provide that, “not the punitive sanctions”.

“We’ll be saying ‘if you’ve been out of work for longer than six months’ then you’re going to have to go and pick up one of these roles.”

Labour has criticised National for its use of sanctions such as cutting benefits of people who do not meet their job-hunting responsibilities or turn down a job.

Jane Paterson at RNZ: Does Labour truly believe it can beat Key?

The jobs policy would be for those on the Jobseeker benefit for more than six months, and would not be compulsory.

But that’s where the policy could get tricky for Labour as Mr Little said there were already sanctions in place for those on the Jobseeker benefit who did not fulfil their obligations; sanctions Labour has previously described as punitive.

When Mr Little was asked about how young people would be made to do the paid work if they flat out refused, he referred to the sanctions, and in the next breath reverted to the criticism of them as punitive.

Little doesn’t seem to handle criticism well.

Another Labour Party proposal that proved somewhat difficult to explain was a recommendation in the Future of Work Commission, also released at the weekend.

Businesses not taking on apprentices or providing on-the-job training would be levied – not taxed, insisted Labour’s Grant Robertson, as the proceeds would be put back into workplace training.

Despite the party having run hard on the issue of immigration, the high numbers of temporary work visas and the impact on the job market, Mr Robertson was decidedly reluctant to link the levy proposal to immigration.

Labour still seems to miss predicting obvious questions about it’s policies.

There were strong words from Mr Little during his speech about Labour winning the next election, but the party lacks the feeling of true confidence about its prospects of actually defeating John Key and his government – a feeling that was starting to build in the National Party ranks as they eyed the Clark government before its defeat in 2008.

Labour has not been able to break through past the early 30s in most of its polling, except for the odd spike, which puts it in about the same place it was this time last year.

If it is not starting to make some real gains at the start of next year and make inroads into National’s vote, it faces an uphill battle if it hopes to win next year’s election.

While most of the public will take little or no notice of most of this the conference was a successful step in Little’s leadership, coming up to it’s second anniversary.

The reality is that many people will make up their mind about Little from glimpses in media, based on brief impressions.

The Labour Party seems to be largely behind Little now and hoping that he succeeds, but the poll jury is still out.

Little’s style is very different to John Key’s. Where some may see forthright others may seem gruff.

Time will tell whether voters warm to it or not.

 

Labour: paid work for young unemployed

In his speech to the Labour conference today announced a policy that will give six months paid community for young unemployed people.

Factsheet: Ready for Work

Labour has a plan to give young people opportunity and hope. Our vision is that all young people who are able, will be in work, training or education, including through Ready for Work.


Labour will:

  • give unemployed young people a job for six months doing work of public value, so they can gain work experience and avoid long-term unemployment.

Under Labour’s Ready for Work policy, all young people who have been on the Jobseeker’s Allowance in the Work Ready category for six months will be offered full-time employment for six months on environmental and community projects.

Ready for Work jobs will pay at least the minimum wage. Mentors employed by WINZ will assist in their training and work preparedness. This job experience will allow young people to make a valuable contribution to their community and earn an income, as well as fostering a work ethic and making them more attractive to employers.

Participants will be employed to do much needed environmental and community work that would not otherwise be carried out. It is anticipated many will work on Department of Conservation projects. DoC is struggling to meet its goals in the face of funding and staffing cuts. The area of land where pests are being controlled is falling and only 56% of tracks are maintained up to DoC standards. Councils and NGOs, too, have many important environmental and community projects that they would like to do but cannot do because the labour cost is prohibitive, such as riparian planting. WINZ will work with these groups to identify projects that meet these criteria.

With an estimated 10,000 participants per year, Ready for Work will cost $60m a year. This investment will result in large savings to the government and society over time. Labour will not abandon our young people, as National has.

The key will be finding or creating enough meaningful positions.

David Farrar disputes this costing. “That’s $15.25 an hour for 40 hours for 26 weeks which is $15,860 per person. At $15,860 per person and 10,000 participants that would be $158 million not $60 million” – http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2016/11/dodgy_sums_from_labour.html

Updated “Even if you take account of the current benefit payments of $156 a week, that still leaves a additional cost of around $120 million a year – before any admin costs.”

This might need clarifying.

Labour will get them back working and give them hope for the future.

Young people are being been left behind by National. 74,000 are not in employment, education or training. There are now 12,000 more people aged under 24 who are unemployed than there were eight years ago.

A young person who is not in employment, education or training is more likely to be unemployed for long periods in later life and more likely to have a lower income in the future. The lifetime cost to New Zealand as a whole of a young person being not in employment, education, or training is over $200,000 from lost productivity and income, higher benefit costs and low tax revenue.

On top of this, young people who become detached from the workforce are more likely to be involved in crime and have poor health outcomes.

Stuff cover this plus reaffirmation of Labour’s ‘best start’ handout for families with babies:  Labour offers six months paid work to young long-term unemployed

Meanwhile deputy leader Annette King has reaffirmed the party’s 2014 “best start” policy as party policy.

When it was announced in early 2014 then-leader David Cunliffe said it would give all families with a newborn and earning less than $150,000 a year, a payment of $60 a week through to the baby’s first birthday.

Parents on modest and middle incomes would receive the payment until their child turns three,” Cunliffe said at the time.

About 63,000 families, or 56 per cent of all 1 and 2-year-olds, would qualify for the extended payment.

Also from the conference:

Snippets from @TheNBR:

Little praises Michael Cullen for managing debt. Wants government to put cash into the Super Fund to manage superannuation.

Little calls Election 2017 a “neck and neck race between the left and right block..We are going to win”

Little turns to tax cuts: “Those who already have the most already have more”

So far: Little outlines policy on housing, education, homelessness, health, crime.

Little finishes his speech to Labour delegates. Heads off stage to cheers and dubstep music..”are you ready, are you ready, are you ready”

Little’s speech:

Transcript: https://thestandard.org.nz/andrew-little-speech-ready-for-work/

Labour Party conference opening

Labour’s annual conference opened tonight in Auckland.

The 2016 Annual Conference will be held at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, Auckland Central commencing 8.30am Friday 4 November and concluding by 3.00pm on Sunday 6 November. In addition to all of the usual policy discussions, workshops and sector activities, this year’s Conference will also continue our centenary celebrations and feature an interesting fringe programme.

Friday: Sector meetings, policy workshops and the conference opening.

Saturday: President’s address, Policy Platform amendments debate, CTU President address, Finance Spokesperson’s address, NZ Council elections, hustings and voting, campaign plan briefing, workshops and Mt Roskill campaign.

Sunday: General Secretary’s address, NZLP Annual Report and incorporation discussion, announcement of NZ Council election results, Policy Platform amendments debate continued, life membership awards, Deputy Leader’s speech and the Leader’s Speech.

http://www.labour.org.nz/conference-2016

Andrew Little’s opening speech. Also James Shaw speaks to the conference.

And, ah, neither Ten Guitars nor male opera singing rate highly in my musical preferences, but when the two are combined it’s really not my thing.

@jamespeshaw
Thank you to @nzlabour for having @metiria and I along to your conference tonight.

@AndrewLittleMP
@jamespeshaw @nzlabour @metiria @NZGreens Great to have you both there and thanks for your kind words.

Labour’s annual conference, offline

I think Labour is having their annual conference this weekend and will mark 100 years since the party was founded, but it’s hard to tell from their online presence.

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Oddly I can see no sign of this on the home page on their website.

labourwebsitenoconference

The ‘latest’ is last weekend’s news.

I got the 100 years graphic from their Facebook page, but remarkably there is no obvious sign of their conference there either.Under Events:

labourfacebookevents

That August campaign launch is presumably for the local body elections. No mention of any event relating to the Mount Roskill by-election, and more remarkably, no sign of their centenary conference.

I also see that there’s a gap in the history montage, no Norm Kirk from the 1970s, nor David Lange from the 1980s.

“New Zealand Labour Party does not have any upcoming events.”

Remarkable. Is this a result of the exodus of communications staff from Andrew Little’s office? Or under the Memorandum of Understanding do they leave social media to their Green Party branch?

No sign of any posts  about the conference at The Standard yet either.

Someone must have thought to tell a journalist though, as 1 News have reported Labour to mark centenary, look to future at annual conference.

Do they see no future in online promotions?

Labour will celebrate their past and their future when as many as 600 delegates head to Auckland for their annual conference this weekend.

This year marks 100 years since the party was founded and while marking the milestone the event will focus on the campaign to win government in 2017, President Nigel Haworth says.

“We know it’s going to be difficult because we’ve got a well funded, well resourced government in power,” he told NZ Newswire.

“We’re feeling very comfortable we’ve got a strong campaign.”

“I think the way it’s come out over the last year we’ve dealt with most of the hard issues, this year is very much about campaigning,” Mr Haworth said.

Maybe that strong campaign will be launched at the conference.

“It will be an opportunity for us to reiterate our platform about New Zealand being a place of genuine opportunity for everyone regardless of the circumstances of their birth, and I’ll have a policy to announce relating to jobs,” Mr Little said.

The Party is expecting between 500 and 600 delegates to attend the three-day event which kicks off with a President’s welcome from Mr Haworth tonight.

It starts tonight. Maybe they notified some of their members by snail mail.

Mr Little will address delegates in the main event on Sunday afternoon.

Will Little’s policy on jobs include a new opportunity for someone to promote the Labour Party online?

Highlights from UK Conservative conference

A UK report from Missy:


Well, today was the last day of the Conservative Conference and Theresa May gave her keynote speech – which I will get to in a separate post. First a few highlights from yesterday which saw the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary both give their speeches.

Home Secretary:

The Home Secretary announced that they will not be looking to making any kind of free movement deal with Canada, Australia, and NZ, thought to be fair this has only ever been pushed as an idea here from lobby groups, but for the Home Secretary to announce it won’t happen shows that those lobbying are obviously being heard.

The Conservatives will bring in new laws to make it easier to deport EU citizens that commit crimes in the UK. This was one of the main issues of the referendum, and one of the issues that the Remain campaign did not address fully for the electorate. I think it is approximately 10% of serious sex offenders in prison in the UK are from the EU, and at present under EU laws it is very difficult for the UK to deport them, the laws that the Government are looking to introduce will apparently make it easier for this to happen.

On Immigration, the Government have outlined their post-Brexit immigration policy of being a work permit based scheme, as opposed to a points based scheme. Theresa May has previously indicated she does not agree with points based immigration systems as they tend to still allow immigrants in who have no jobs, under the proposals from the Government, immigrants will only be able to come if they have a job prior to applying to emigrate – this is similar to what all non EU citizens currently have to do now, so will mean no change to NZers, but will be a big change for the EU citizens.

The Home Secretary also announced that Companies in Britain would have to register how many foreign worker they have working for them, and show why they had to employ a foreign worker rather than a British worker. This has gained a backlash, and already today the Conservatives were back pedalling on it a bit, so I won’t be surprised if this dies a quiet death.

Defence:

The biggest – and some will argue most important – announcement on defence relates to the vexatious cases being brought against serving, and former, members of the defence force. The Government will pass a law allowing them to suspend the European Convention of Human Rights for the military in all future conflicts. Unfortunately they are unable to make this a retrospective law, so all current claims will continue to be investigated. But it signals an intent to not leave the military open to being pursued in civilian courts, against civilian situations, for battlefield actions. This move has been welcomed by many in the defence area – both former and serving. Just to note the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU, it is a separate treaty that was set up prior to the EU.

What I have gained from the summaries on the speeches at the conference is that the Conservatives appear to be listening to, and acting on, the concerns of many of the population, and that regardless of what is happening behind closed doors they are publicly showing a united front – quite a contrast to Labour where many of their front benches included veiled and pointed comments about their leader.

UK Conservative conference and EU exit

A UK report from Missy:


Highlights from the opening day of the Conservative Party Conference.

As indicated this morning Theresa May has confirmed that she will be repealing the 1972 European Communities law, and that Article 50 will be invoked no later than the end of March next year.

Theresa May also used her speech to the Conservative Party Conference today to attack those MP’s that want to stop Brexit through delays, a second referendum, and trying to stop it in Parliament. She said that the country has voted and Brexit means Brexit. She went on to say that the UK can now truly be a global country.

Theresa May made it clear there will be no opt out of Brexit for any of the four nations in the UK, it was the UK that had the referendum and it will be UK that exits. This will be yet another blow to Nicola Sturgeon who has continually put forward the option that Scotland can remain in the EU.

The Brexit Minister, David Davis, has hinted at a hard Brexit by insisting that Britain must be able to control its own borders and curb immigration. He also confirmed that the rights of EU citizens will be protected in Britain only if the rights of Britons living in the EU get the same rights, this has been consistent line that May has taken since she threw her hat in the ring for the leadership. No guarantees are being given on EU citizens outright until they have secured the rights of Britons in the EU, this is contrary to many MP’s who think that the rights of EU citizens in the UK should be guaranteed regardless of what happens to Britons overseas – an interesting view for them to take considering EU citizens cannot vote for the UK Parliament, but Britons in the EU can.

Boris made a joke at the expense of the European Council President, by saying that Britain will now be able to speak up more powerfully, leading the world, as they are now currently on imposing a ban on ivory – which the EU are trying to veto despite having a President called Tusk. A bit of a lame joke, but there none the less.

Priti Patel has stated in her speech that British international aid money will be closely scrutinised in order to control waste and corruption, she also said that aid projects the UK invests in will be monitored and those that are not deemed not delivering will be scrapped. She also flagged increased aid funding to be spent on Afghanistan, in a move that is expected to make Britain safer.

A full round up from the Telegraph below:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/02/theresa-may-brexit-boris-johnson-david-davis-liam-fox-live/

Winston’s conference speech

Winston Peters’ speech at the New Zealand First conference in Dunedin was open to the public so I went along for a look and a listen. Over the years (many) I’ve seen a lot of Peters on television but never in person.

He was much as he often appears – an eloquent hero for some, and bullshitting, hypocritical, abusive, complaining political charlatan to others.

There’s no doubt that NZ First is thriving as a party. There was a large and enthusiastic crowd at the party’s first ever conference in Dunedin, buoyed by Peters’ success in winning the Northland electorate and riding on unusually persistent poll support.

The crowed frequently clapped and cheered and laughed at Peters’ performance.

And it was a slick, well practiced performance. When Toby Manhire asked on Twitter for the speech Andrea  Vance responded “you could just look at last year’s, or the year before that, or the year”. There were some new bits but it was vintage Peters.

Peters attacked and ridiculed a number of people, much to his own amusement, including John Key, Judith Collins, media, academics, online pundits and particularly One News. Andrea Vance also covered this in Winston Peters launches fiery attacks on polls, rivals, media at NZ First conference.

And finally he took aim at the media, claiming he wasn’t asked onto TVNZ’s Q+A programme this morning.

“Never had the intellectual fortitude, integrity or outright decency to ask us on the programme,” he said.

In fact Mr Peters was twice invited on Q+A, and twice backed out.

“I’ve seen some downright lies in politics,” he said.

But that won’t stop Peters from continuing to lie, and to display disconnects with reality. Like saying he and his party knew from experience what being homeless was like.

As well as making a (very old) lame joke about manual labour, Peters claimed that unlike Key (who he derided and then laughed at his ‘humour’ (along with the crowd) he and NZ First knew from experience what being a real worker was like.

From Toby Manhire: Power ranking Winston Peters’ sick burns

Was the joke better when Hal Roach did it about 50 years ago? Or when Winston Peters unleashed it in 2015, or 2014, or 2003, or 1999?

Peters laughed at it as much as he may have fifty years ago.

There are many people who will never warm to Peters. Like me – I wondered if he would exude some sort of respectable mana in person but no, he was just an extended version of the sound bite Winston that I’m familiar with.

But his fan club looks to be as strong as ever. They don’t care if he makes things up, they are happy to go along with whatever he dishes out.

The big question will be whether Peters and NZ First can grow their fan club. They seem to have loft ambitions – to be the number one party in Parliament, dishing out utu to all the parties, politicians and journalists he has slagged and slandered for decades.

There are certainly opportunities for NZ First to grow, if there are more people that can be sucked in by the political charlatan.

They are targeting Labour votes, and there is potential there as Labour continues to look vulnerable to collapse.

They are targeting disaffected National voters, and there’s a good chance there will be quite a few looking for an alternative next election.

Peters also says they have the technology to bypass the media filter and deliver their messages directly to the public (no sign of that yet).

He says they are targeting the ‘missing million’, the non-voters that the Greens and their proxies failed to get to the polling booths last election.

Does Peters have or can he achieve mass appeal? That’s a big unknown. He and his party are riding relatively high, but they are aiming much higher. Peters may be the king of rhetoric but I doubt he can fool most of the people for one election.

This could be Winston’s last bid for political stardom. Fourteen months is a long time to ride the current wave of support. And if he achieves his king maker goal the real work will begin then. Does he have that in him?

NZ First conference – policies

NZ First have announced several policies at their conference over the weekend. This far out from next year’s election these appear to be trying to position themselves for polls, in particular to compete with Labour for support.

Both Ron Mark and Winston Peters indicate that they are trying to portray NZ First as an alternative lead party to both National and Labour. They aren’t likely to get close to National but could give Labour a good hoozle up.

Yesterday education spokeswoman Tracey Martin’s announced a policy that would provide all tertiary students with free study as long as they don’t leave New Zealand for as long as they spent getting their education. This goes further than Labour’s free tertiary policy – and has been costed at $4.6 billion, presumably per year.

Today Winston Peters announced another education policy, to give all secondary pupils a pathway to get their driver’s license. The reasoning behind this was because over a half of Maori first offenders were pinged for driving with no license.

This policy also included NZ First’s core demographic – they say that retirees would do the teaching to drive.

Another policy announcement would fast track a heap more police officers to address crime problems.

Peters also intimated that Labour’s policy to build 10,000 houses a year was nowhere near enough and they would build many more, but gave no details.

Peters also attacked National and Labour numerous times in his conference speech, also attacked the Maori and Green parties a bit, and blasted online commenters and the media several times.

In particular Peters blasted TV One for not having him in Q&A this morning on an item on immigration.

Peters said they planned to use the Internet to bypass the media and speak directly to ‘the people’. He also said they intended to target the ‘missing million’, the non-voters.that Greens and Labour failed to attract last election.

More of my impressions of Peters’ speech in a separate post.

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.