If NZ First did not have Winston as Leader, there would be some MPs there that I would like to see return to Parliament. But as the price of having say Ron Mark or Peter Paraone back is to have Winston back, it is far too high a price to pay.
There is actually room on the political spectrum for a socially conservative but economically centre-left party. But again not with Winston. Anyway what has been reported:
On the campaign trail yesterday, only Prime Minister Helen Clark was still openly standing by the NZ First leader. She refused to retract previous expressions of confidence in Peters, saying the allegations were a matter for NZ First.
But they are not. He is her Minister of Racing. He forced her Government to splash out money on the racing industry, against official advice. There is considerable documented evidence that this advocacy was motivated by private donations to both NZ First and Peters personally as part of a strategy to attract money.
How the Prime Minister can say this is no issue for her, and she still has confidence is a classic case of see no evil, hear no evil.
National and Act have already ruled out sharing the Government benches with NZ First. And yesterday, Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she would have great difficulty sitting around the Cabinet table with Peters, unless he was cleared of the new and serious accusations.
That’s a step in the right direction Jeanette but she has left herself wriggle room. Peters is not around the Cabinet table at the moment – he is Minister outside Cabinet. I remain unconvinced that if Helen can only form a Government with the Greens and NZ First, and that NZ First demand Winston remains Foreign Minister (outside Cabinet) that Jeanette and the Greens would turn down an opportunity to be in Government.
Yesterday, Ron Mark said he had warned Peters about his involvement with Meurant: “I have no relationship with Ross, other than advising Winston he should have nothing to do with him.”
This was very good advice that Winston should have taken. But he didn’t. And I hope Ron looks at what Meurant advocated to Peters, looks at the sceret money they have received (that I am sure he knew nothing about previously) and realise that Winston not just ignored Ron’s advice but he implemented Meurant’s strategy.
The fact that Ron is willing to publicly say he advised WInston off Meurant is significant. Now someone should ask Winston why he ignored his MPs, what did Meurant actually do for him.