Vernon Small writes:
Speculation is rife that NZ First leader Winston Peters and his former adviser Michael Laws are to team up again as part of a “relaunch” of the party this year.
Neither Mr Laws, who is to stand down as Whanganui mayor this year, nor Mr Peters would confirm the rumours. But MPs from both sides of the House and sources close to NZ First said they were aware of plans.
One source said Mr Peters had indicated he wanted to relaunch the party this year.
The annual conference will be in Christchurch in late October.
Speculation about Mr Laws has focused on the Whanganui seat, held by National’s Chester Borrows with a majority of 6333.
But he has also been linked with Dunedin North, held by Labour’s Pete Hodgson, who is retiring.
If NZ First won an electorate seat, it would then qualify for list seats even if it fell short of the 5 per cent threshold.
Mr Laws said he had nothing to say about the issue. “I am not interested in talking to you at all.”
He is a former National and NZ First MP who quit Parliament in 1996 over a Napier City Council poll he had organised. The poll was signed off by a fictitious Antoinette Beck, who was later revealed to be Mr Laws’ parliamentary secretary, Louise Sampson.
If Michael thinks he can trust Winston, well good luck to him with that.
Ironically a Laws led NZ First would be far more palatable than a Winston led one, but I can’t see Winston handing over power.
UPDATE: The NZ First President says he knows nothing:
NZ First’s party president knows nothing of any plans for Michael Laws to stand for the party, and says he would know if such plans were afoot. …
NZ First president George Groombridge said he was confident he would be kept in the loop.
“I am in charge of the governance of the party… things are going along very, very smoothly and I would have heard if anything like that had happened because I am in constant touch with our leader.
“That’s a definite no.”
I would say the President is as much in the loop on Winston’s plans as he was about the Spencer Trust and those undeclared donations. You think he would have learnt a lesson by now.
UPDATE II: The MP.Peters stock on iPredict has gone from 15c to 35c today, so some people think it is happening.