Winston Peters is doing the right thing by suing senior MPs in the National Party. In fact, he’s doing us all a favour.
I’ve no appetite for the dirty politics that the National Party plays. In my time working in and around the press gallery in Wellington, in my opinion, there was no party prepared to stoop to the levels the Nats were to ruin someone’s reputation
Too often they made things personal.
Did the National party leak Winston Peters’ superannuation details? In my opinion, yes.
The reason I say that is because in the weeks before the leak, I was told by the Nats that the nats had the information. They told me they were considering leaking it. They told me how they would leak it, the process they would follow to cover their tracks. Without going into details, I can tell you that’s exactly how it played out.
So the chances that the Nats leaked it are about 99 per cent.
How many examples do we need of the Nats playing dirty before we say enough?
Jami Lee Ross: he recorded conversations with his own leader then went public with them. He was a Nat at the time.
Paula Bennett: to get back at Ross and ruin his reputation, she told the public that he had had affairs.
Todd Barclay: former National MP who recorded his own staff member, denied it publicly for a year, allegations of hush money, allegations the Nats told the staffer to withdraw the complaint, allegations from Ross that he then was tasked with exiting Barclay.
The Nats on Winston Peters: they leaked this, in my opinion, to try to take him out of contention at the last election.
I accept that politics is rough and brutal, but it doesn’t have to ruin lives and reputations.
The problem for the Nats is that this is becoming a branding issue. 'Dirty politics' is a label more likely to stick to them than any other party in Parliament. And it’s going to be used against them.
This week on a number of occasions I’ve heard Labour accuse the Nats of introducing a style of politics employed by Donald Trump or Scott Morrison. Both stand accused of using dirty tactics.
If Labour keeps saying that over and over again, people will start associating that with the National Party. The only reason labour is saying it over and over again is because it’s working, and the only reason it’s working is because the National Party has let this become a problem by doing politics like this.
Do I think the Nats have changed their ways? No. They’ve just appointed Paula Bennett to campaign chair, the same Bennett who revealed Ross’ affair. She’s running next year’s campaign: what does that tell you about what to expect?
So don’t blame Winston for going after the Nats on the superannuation leak. Wouldn’t you if you were the victim of a leak like that? And as I said, he’s doing us a favour, because he’s firing a warning shot about a grubby and unwelcome style of politics.