Danyl McL writes:
But last week the dark gods of politics seemed to go out of their way to endorse Simon Bridges’ decision to rule out Winston Peters from a future National-led coalition. Bridges has been rewarded with a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation and more murky allegations around the same foundation showing that it’s been quietly taking donations from the racing industry, while Peters is the sector’s benevolent minister of racing. There have been two polls showing National ahead of Labour and New Zealand First out of parliament, and Bridges is slowly clawing his way up the preferred prime minister ratings.
And Peters himself has rewarded Bridges by performing as the absolute worst version of himself, indulging in classic Peters-style antics, drowning out the prime minister’s electorally vital attempts to remind the voters how much she believes in kindness, forcing her to declare that yes, she still stands by him, absolutely she trusts him, no further comments please; making her look weaker every day.
The timing was near perfect in terms of ruling Peters out. I recall several commentators scoffing that it was a hasty or bad decision by Bridges. Doubt they think that today.
I’m not sure one can actually refer to Ardern as the Prime Minister anymore. It is clear she has no control over NZ First Ministers and is unable to do anything when they break Cabinet rules, apart from lamely suggesting they should read the Cabinet Manual (advice she should take herself).
It is more like she is a co Prime Minister. She has control over some Ministers, but not all. And while she can veto policy decisions, so can Winston.
So Bridges is attacking extremely unpopular things, like organised crime and the deputy prime minister, targets that his political opponents (sometimes rather bafflingly) support. This redefines the choice architecture for swing voters. Their decision is not “Jacinda versus Simon”, but rather: “Whose side are you on: Simon Bridges or the Mongrel Mob?” Or “Do you prefer a government with Winston Peters’ endless scandal and drama and inane nonsense, or one without?”
I wonder which of those two is more unpopular?
And the Green Party under Russel Norman and Metiria Turei was an anti-establishment party (Turei described it as “an anti-establishment party in the heart of the establishment”), critiquing the security services, the political donation laws, the lobbyists swarming around the last government (and now this one) like bluebottles to a dead cat. This was politically popular – the party once polled as high as 18%, and its internal research showed that as many as a third of New Zealanders were potential green voters. But now the Green Party occupies an ideologically incoherent space bounded by technocratic centrism and campus wokeness, characterised by an obsequious, fawning fear towards Peters and New Zealand First. On current polling it’s not at all certain they’ll be returned to parliament.
This comes from a former member of their national campaign team.