Winston can sit back and relax
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.