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Kate Hawkesby: We aren't naïve enough to vote for Winston again - are we?

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 Oct 2022, 8:35AM
Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

Kate Hawkesby: We aren't naïve enough to vote for Winston again - are we?

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 Oct 2022, 8:35AM

Is it just me or does it feel like Groundhog Day at the moment? 

As soon as I saw Winston and his ‘usual suspects’ lineup of a few hardcore supporters at the NZ First party conference, it felt like being in a time warp. How are we back here again?

How are we back to him sniggering at reporters and giggling as he disparages anyone who dares downplay him?

I’m pretty sure last election, or even the one before the that where he put Labour into power as an act of spite to National, that I said I was done talking about him. But here we are again talking about him. 

He makes sure of it. He knows this is a good time for him. There’s lots of disharmony and angst around and his is a party for the angry and disgruntled. 

He finds key controversial issues that he knows are bugging people – co-governance, the Treaty, climate change, immigration, gangs, you get the gist. 

If there’s a gripe to be had on something, he’ll elevate it for you and tell you he’s the man to fix it. But can you trust him? 

2017 would tell us firmly no. In fact, in the wake of him putting Ardern into power, we got inundated with people saying they’d never trust him with their vote ever again. But six years is a long time between drinks. Do they forgive and forget? Do they move on? Do they really believe small parties can achieve any of their promises?

A man wrote to me the other day and said despite everything, despite all Winston did to shaft them, he would still give Winston his vote again. Why? I just don’t get that. 

And let’s be honest, it’s a crowded field when it comes to discontent. ACT, also taking a hard line on co-governance and the Treaty, has been gobbling up support. Then there’s all the new fringe players, the one-percenters. The Opportunities Party, Vision NZ, the New Conservatives, NZ Outdoor and Freedom party, Heartland NZ, Democracy NZ, which is Matt King’s new party in Northland. 

So it’s not like we’re short of small players, and it’s not like the disenfranchised don’t have heaps of options and lots of places to go. 

So the key question is: can Winston swing NZ First back over the 5 percent threshold? And of those who choose to support him – how many are new to that particular route? 

And do they just want change because they’re fed up with the status quo? How many are his tried-and-true faithfuls who would follow him anywhere? 

How many voted for him in 2017, then when he shafted them, declared they’d never vote for him again yet will be back in 2023? And what is it they expect? 

Are they looking to split the field even wider? Are they hoping he’ll get to government to ‘keep people honest?’ Who is he keeping honest? What about him being honest? 

It’s a prediction many political pundits won’t call. Due to the phoenix-like qualities of the man, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone absolutely definitive in ruling him in or out. 

I always rule him out because I’ve got nothing to lose and I live in hope that people won’t be that naïve, again. 

But with the state our country’s currently in, with the level of discontent, and with this many minor parties on the edges agitating for the disgruntled voter, next year's going to be interesting.

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