Aug 3, 2008

What Winston Is Up To

It is all explained this morning by Bill Ralston in the Herald on Sunday

It squares exactly with our analysis. Helen is about to fire Winston but can do so until the supply bill is voted on and won. Winston doesn't want to lose the BMW and all the travel so is hanging on in there by delaying the vote. This is Ralston's explanation:

If Helen Clark appears a little strained, despite her newer, softer-looking Serville's hairdo, it is because Peters is giving her a few sleepless nights.
There is the small question of a money supply bill she has to get through the House fairly soon. It is Clark's last hurdle before her Government can coast through to an election in early November.
If the bill does not get passed, the Government falls. It should have been voted on by now but it keeps being put back on Parliament's order paper. The reason is that Peters is dragging his feet.

New Zealand First has a confidence-and-supply agreement with Labour: this is how Clark's minority government stays in power and Peters gets the plum job of Foreign Affairs Minister in return.
The agreement is signed and there in black and white, so counting on New Zealand First's support should be a foregone conclusion. It is not.
Peters knows once he and his party vote for the money bill he loses his hold over Labour, he becomes expendable and Clark can fire him. Under huge pressure over his party's murky finances, Peters is coming up with every excuse he can think of to further delay the bill. A turkey does not vote for an early Christmas.
Clark is sweating because she needs the bill soon and failure means a snap election when her party is so far behind in the polls. She would much prefer to wait another four months and hope the gap narrows by the time the campaign starts.
However, she has little hope of improving her poll ratings as long as she is tethered to the scandal-prone Peters. Clark's advisers know she would immediately get a boost if she acted tough and sacked him but, of course, she cannot do so while that pesky bill is sitting there.

He concludes

Peters is dragging out the agony over the money supply bill hoping, somehow, the uproar over his financial dealings will run out of steam before New Zealand First has to vote on it. Then Helen Clark might not have the urge to fire him any more and his poll ratings might have even gone up.
Working on the theory "any publicity is good publicity" Peters is counting on his battling performance eventually galvanising enough of his old hardcore support to get him over the 5 per cent MMP threshold. He may be right. There are probably enough deranged paranoid conspiracy theorists out there willing to believe that a pliant media and big business is out to destroy their old hero.

Of course, this ignores the fact that Peters has built his career out of manipulating the media to destroy his enemies and he now appears to have been happily taking cheques from the same kind of big businessmen that he claims are out to get him.
The bad news for Peters is that the allegations against him will not go away, in fact there will be more over the coming months.
While Peters may scrape back into Parliament, I cannot imagine any government, Labour or National, would want to deal with him again.