Legacy on line: ‘King’ Win­ston be­fore coun­try?

Taranaki Daily News - - Comment&opinion - DUN­CAN GARNER

Al­most 93 per cent of NZ vot­ers re­jected him but he's had all the power.

Win­ston Peters faces a week­end from hell, with his 40-year po­lit­i­cal ca­reer po­ten­tially de­fined by what de­ci­sion he makes this week­end. No pres­sure.

At stake is not only the make-up of the next gov­ern­ment, but surely Peters’ legacy is also de­fined by how he fin­ishes his ca­reer too.

Peters needs to get some mas­sive pol­icy wins to cre­ate his po­lit­i­cal legacy as some­one who ac­tu­ally made a dif­fer­ence.

If the coun­try’s eco­nomic and so­cial frame­work is as bro­ken as Peters claims then let’s see the cut of his pol­icy jib. Merely walk­ing into the baubles of of­fice one last time won’t be enough. Peters needs pol­icy tro­phies.

Has he got any­thing or is he all mouth and no trousers?

On the first ques­tion – it’s been all mouth and no de­ci­sions so far. Be­cause he missed his first self­im­posed dead­line, which was non­sense any­way and far too am­bi­tious to start with.

He promised the for­ma­tion of the next gov­ern­ment would be com­pleted two days ago, Thurs­day, but that’s in­stead turned to chaos and con­fu­sion be­fore any for­mal coali­tion. So much of the de­lay can be sheeted home to his own lack of or­gan­i­sa­tion, which once again has been woe­ful.

It’s al­ways been a mys­tery how Peters runs his party and we’re less sure now than ever. Who talks to who, who has the power, who sends the in­struc­tions and who for­got to or­gan­ise the NZ First board to sign off on the new coali­tion ar­range­ment?

An­swers: Win­ston, Win­ston, Win­ston, Win­ston.

Peters talks about this board but no one can find much ex­is­tence of it. Who are the mem­bers and how did they get there?

Ques­tion: If Peters needed to get his party’s board to sign off on a coali­tion deal then why didn’t he tell the board to standby for a meet­ing on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 12, given that was Peters’ dead­line?

How hope­less. A work­ing bee at the lo­cal church or play cen­tre is bet­ter or­gan­ised than this. Peters blamed board mem­bers hav­ing to at­tend fu­ner­als for the de­lays but in­side word came through that some of these peo­ple hadn’t ac­tu­ally or­gan­ised time off from their day jobs.

Surely that’s im­pos­si­ble. Peters pub­licly set the dead­line him­self more than two months ago.

Did the board even know they had to sign off their great leader’s deal? You’ll never know. The truth might be it’s another ex­cuse for Peters to buy time be­cause he’s torn.

It sends sig­nals of de­lay and dis­or­gan­i­sa­tion rather than de­ci­sive­ness and clear di­rec­tion. And sources be­hind the scenes say the talks be­hind closed doors have had lit­tle struc­ture and fo­cus, which is a worry.

Labour isn’t overly con­fi­dent of win­ning. Its sources worry that a three-way coali­tion for Peters is much harder to jus­tify and ac­cept. Those same sources feel Peters will back the big­ger party, Na­tional. But in truth no one knows in­side Peters’ mind.

I think he’s se­ri­ously squeezed be­tween a mas­sive rock (Na­tional) and a gen­uinely hard place (Labour/Greens).

It’s fair to say he’s had a few self-in­duced sleep-de­prived nights over the years and this week­end will be no dif­fer­ent. He was served up a shock­ing MMP elec­tion re­sult re­ally. Nei­ther Na­tional nor Labour could do it with­out him, yet vot­ers only gave him a few cards.

Al­most 93 per cent of NZ vot­ers re­jected him but he’s had all the power.

Pick Labour – and some will claim it’s an il­le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment as it’s not even close to be­ing the largest party.

Pick Na­tional and go with a fourth term po­ten­tially un­pop­u­lar lot, when many ar­gue the elec­tion was a vote to change the gov­ern­ment. I find it dif­fi­cult to ar­gue this elec­tion was a vote for a change of gov­ern­ment. I’d sug­gest it was more a vote to re­di­rect the cur­rent lot to do some things dif­fer­ently.

If this year was a vote to change the gov­ern­ment, then so was 2005 when Labour got two more seats than Na­tional and Peters’ sup­port got Labour back into of­fice. And that’s the co­nun­drum for Peters.

He cam­paigned once again as though he was go­ing to change the gov­ern­ment.

Grab a bus, re­mind vot­ers that the peo­ple run­ning the show are an un­savoury, self­ish and en­ti­tled bunch, to­tally out of touch with what real peo­ple need and how they feel. ‘‘Had enough,’’ was the ques­tion Peters asked on his bill­boards.

I sus­pect the an­swer is yes, we have had enough. Hence why Peters needs some big pol­icy wins out of this de­ci­sion be­cause who­ever he chooses a whole pile of vot­ers won’t like it.

Had enough? Sure. And NZ First could end up pay­ing the ul­ti­mate price in three years.

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