29 August 2008

Farewell Winston but...

Whilst the Serious Fraud Office investigation into NZ First finances should certainly see Winston removed from his Ministerial positions (if not then Helen Clark will have made a serious misjudgment), the question becomes whether NZ First will withdraw confidence and supply. If so, it might provoke the announcement of the election date, but it would also be likely that NZ First MPs would be looking for a new job. If not, then Labour has to ask itself whether it is comfortable governing reliant on a party that has proven itself to be at best slippery with the truth around its finances.

NZ First has never been popular with the mass media of course, partly because it has always couched itself as the party of the people who don't have a voice. NZ First is the party of talkback land, of the Waynes and Sharlenes who don't like the Chans who moved in next door with their nice car and children who are far more articulate than they are, who are suspicious of big business and think that "old" New Zealand was "taken away". The barely shrouded racism expressed (but probably not believed) by Winston Peters meant NZ First did worst in the likes of Wellington - NZ First is in effect the National Party of Rob Muldoon. It may be facing its swan song. Rarely does the media give the impression that NZ First is a party like others, but then again rarely does Winston Peters want this.

So let's move on. Does the degree of scrutiny that the media place upon NZ First ever get applied to the Green Party or the Maori Party? Who delves in the control-freakery of both? The anti-American hypocrisy of both parties, the strong emphasis on increasing the size of the welfare state, the unabashed racist agenda not to oppress a race, but to advantage one, their xenophobia about foreign investment.

Labour undoubtedly would do deals with both parties to stay in power, but where is the media scrutiny? National would almost certainly do a deal with the Maori Party, and wouldn't dismiss the Greens if it needed Green support to govern.

I acknowledge that NZ First's behaviour in recent months has raised serious issues, but fundamentally it is MORE important to consider what policies and who will be seeking to govern NZ in the next three years. The mainstream media loves a scandal, and is appropriately sinking its teeth into Winston Peters - but the same teeth could be sunk into all of the parties in Parliament - and with vigorous serious journalism, it would happen. Will it?

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