Should you vote for Winston Peters? Why not take his advice on the matter


Hurrah for the Herald on Sunday.

It has delivered a timely reminder today that maybe the voters had good cause to rid Parliament of New Zealand First representation at the 2008 election.

Whee! Three glorious years without the strutting, the posturing and the hectoring of Winston Peters during parliamentary sessions has been refreshing.

And this being so, voters shouldn’t be too hasty about bringing the bugger back.

The HoS notes the poll figures that suggest too many voters have short memories.

Or worse, maybe they do remember, but they are so intellectually enfeebled that they actually highlight the case for voters to pass an intelligence test before they are allowed to register on the electoral roll.

The HoS muses –

It is more than possible that some of the support for Peters has been from people wanting to send a message to someone else: to tell John Key that he shouldn’t count on the unbridled power of an absolute majority; to tell Labour it doesn’t look like a credible Opposition, never mind a Government; to tell Act to go away.

Certainly, Peters and NZ First have done little to deserve any rise in support on their merits.

Their promises include cheaper doctor visits and motor registration for oldies (which Alf would be tempted to endorse, except he knows our fiscal situation makes it somewhat extravagant just now).

And they plan to extend the discounts to Super Gold Card holders.

People other than pensioners may wonder whether giving the pensioners more free outings to Waiheke should be on the agenda when the economy is tanking but as Peters knows better than anyone, talk is cheap.

And voters would need particularly short memories or a particularly forgiving nature to overlook Peters’ political past. The man who has always stoutly refused to signal his post-election intentions – it is for voters, not politicians, to decide the makeup of Governments, he would growl – now says he will come to an arrangement with no other party, but sit on the Opposition benches.

Yet it is worth wondering how reliable such a promise is. This is the man who, in 1996, campaigned on a platform of getting rid of the National Government and then joined National in a coalition, and in 2005, said he would spurn the baubles of office, and took the Foreign Affairs portfolio in a Labour-led administration.

Yep. Let’s not forget that tawdry track record.

But wait. There’s more.

He has fallen out with every party he has ever made an arrangement with and contributed enormously to the disenchantment that some voters have felt with MMP. And even when he has been caught out – as with the grubby Owen Glenn donation saga – he has attempted to paint himself as the victim of a media witch-hunt rather than of his own narcissistic and manipulative style.

On present indications, National could easily form a Government, and John Key has made it plain that he wants nothing to do with the man. It is worth wondering what Peters offers when he tells the electorate that his highest aspiration is to sit in opposition. At times like these, the country needs a breadth of vision and a desire to contribute – not simply a promise to be a publicly funded detractor of everyone else.

Yeah. That sums things up pretty neatly.

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