Win­ston can sit back and re­lax

The Southland Times - - COMMENT&OPINION -

OPIN­ION: Win­ston Peters could sleep his way through the next nine weeks and peo­ple would still vote for him.

The 72-year-old sea­soned politi­cian has one ad­van­tage in the lead-up to the elec­tion on Septem­ber 23 that no other party leader has - ab­so­lutely no need for an elec­tion strat­egy.

Why? Be­cause what Peters is pitch­ing to vot­ers this year is no dif­fer­ent to the mes­sage he has been selling them for decades.

It ex­plains why he doesn’t dis­cuss pol­icy un­til the mo­ment he de­liv­ers it - it’s not un­com­mon for him to just do it on the hoof - be­cause when you’re mes­sag­ing doesn’t change you don’t need a whole lot of prep time.

His ‘‘ex­plo­sive pol­icy’’ on Sun­day amounted to a bind­ing ref­er­en­dum on abol­ish­ing Maori seats and re­duc­ing the num­ber of MPs in Par­lia­ment - noth­ing new to see here. The anti-es­tab­lish­ment, fake-news-hat­ing politi­cian was prick­ing the ears of dis­en­fran­chised vot­ers (I’m look­ing at you Na­tional and Labour) long be­fore US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump started spew­ing ‘‘Make Amer­ica Great Again’’ on his Twit­ter page.

Peters was the cat who got the cream from start to fin­ish at his party’s an­nual con­fer­ence in South Auck­land at the week­end.

Af­ter two weeks on the road tour­ing the re­gions, Peters pulled into the Voda­fone Events Cen­tre to hun­dreds of fans all des­per­ate to hear from the main man.

Other cau­cus mem­bers had their fleet­ing mo­ments in the sun over the week­end (al­though newlyap­pointed Whangarei can­di­date was so quiet some me­dia thought he wasn’t even there) but it was Peters they had bat­tled a po­lar blast in hope of a hand­shake with.

If NZ First can keep clear of any brain-fart mo­ments in the next two months, then there’s no doubt Peters will col­lect the king­maker crown when the polling booths close.

Keep­ing one’s house in or­der is no easy task for any po­lit­i­cal party but the dirty laun­dry is even more likely to get aired when there’s an elec­tion at stake.

Na­tional is still bat­ting away the Todd Bar­clay head­lines - mainly be­cause Prime Min­is­ter Bill English and his of­fice haven’t quite worked out a strat­egy to wash their hands of the first-term MP who was forced to re­sign af­ter it was re­vealed he had recorded one of his staff.

Labour suf­fered a for­eign in­tern scheme em­bar­rass­ment right in the mid­dle of the Bar­clay chaos - how they didn’t make hay when the sun was shin­ning is any­one’s guess.

Then the Greens let their rookie MP Barry Coates blub to the me­dia about how their cau­cus doesn’t want to gov­ern with NZ First so much that it would al­low a sec­ond elec­tion to hap­pen.

They say a week is a long time in pol­i­tics, so nine weeks will feel like an eter­nity for the coun­try.

If NZ First can hold it to­gether long enough, it might just have a bunch of Cab­i­net po­si­tions to show for it.

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