Kate Hawkesby: It's time we write off New Zealand First

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Aug 2020, 10:49AM
NZ First leader Winston Peters. (Photo / File)

Kate Hawkesby: It's time we write off New Zealand First

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Aug 2020, 10:49AM

Can we count a poll of 500 people as valid?

NZ First certainly won’t given the result, but that’s how many people were canvassed by Colmar Brunton in Northland.

Northland is a critical seat for NZ First because they’re floundering at two per cent in the polls thus far. And the weekend’s poll result showed Shane Jones likelihood of winning that seat, extremely slim.

He came in third at just 15 per cent support behind National and Labour candidates, which makes NZ First look highly unlikely to get back into parliament at this stage.

Everybody always says don’t write them off, but I feel like we can write them off now.

Others won’t, but I’m going to make a bold call and you can come back to me on it in September if I’m wrong.

I just don’t see Shane Jones taking that seat, despite all his promises, all his efforts, all his electioneering and bribes. Northlanders appear to be averse to bribery and sweet talk. But without winning this seat, the chances of seeing wily old Winston back at the Beehive are looking very slim.

Former MP Peter Dunne said on this station yesterday that it’s looking more likely the trend is going against NZ First and that six weeks is not much time to make up a lot of ground.

Northlanders appear loyal to their National candidate, even the Labour candidate is doing better than Shane. And that’s the rub, he should be sitting at second place – but third – that’s a stretch. So the cards are not stacking well for the party.

Add to that Jacinda Ardern reiterating yesterday that Labour is not interested in doing deals.

So can Shane race up from third to first place in just six weeks? I’d say it’s not possible.

The big question then is, what happens to NZ First? Is this the end of them once and for all? And if Winston decides to pack up and go fishing, is the party able to survive without him?

After all, much like Jacinda is Labour, Winston is NZ First. And if NZ First goes, then where do their votes go? Do they trend back towards the right? Or do they move to the left?

But the concern right now for the party is perception. Perception equals reality, and if people think the party is tanking, how do they respond? Do they jump on board to try to save it? Or do they abandon what they perceive to be a sinking ship?

Because if bad polling and low numbers now cause more NZ First voters to abandon the party, then the news is only going to get worse for them. They’ll be hoping the opposite, of course, that they can consolidate and rally the troops in quickfire time and see a boost in support. In fact, they’ll be banking on it.

But despite most pundits not prepared to rule them out, I think at this point, we can.