The contest in the Northland seat this election will be very interesting, and possibly crucial to the outcome. There are a number of variables at play which add to the intrigue. Normally a true blue seat, New Zealand First has made inroads in the electorate with Peters winning a by-election prior to the last general election. The swing back to National saw a majority sufficiently small to make it a marginal seat. Replacing Peters with Jones should not detract from New Zealand First’s chances as both are well known and popular figures in the North.
It is the imponderables that make it difficult when it comes to picking a winner. First, and maybe the most important, is Bridges stating National will not work with Peters. Audrey Young, in a newspaper, says by doing so he has made Jones the most important politician in New Zealand. If that is so then my question is how much more puffed up can he get? Audrey says Bridges’ decision will almost certainly strengthen New Zealand First, weaken National, and put pressure on his leadership.
I don’t see it that way at all, in fact, quite the opposite. Assuming Peters gets in a position where God forbid, he can again play his favourite game he has only two options – either go with Labour and if he can’t get what he wants he will have to GROVEL to National to try and do a deal with them. The boot will then be on the other foot. In other words, Bridges’ announcement has potentially put National in a stronger position. Bridges has also shown the leadership many on the right have been waiting, indeed longing, for.
Second of the imponderables is the commitments made by the Coalition in respect of Northland with regard to the possibility of moving the Auckland port north and the improvements to the road and rail links between Auckland and Whangarei. This rabble has proved themselves particularly good at making announcements but not much else. They seem to have forgotten that actions speak louder than words. Will the people of Northland buy their rhetoric? So far National has only committed to the four-lane highway which is needed in any case.
Third of the imponderables is the fact that New Zealand First is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over their handling of political donations. Depending on the outcome, this may or may not have a bearing on the election but for now the possibility is there. On a previous occasion when they were investigated prior to an election they failed to make it back.
Fourth of the imponderables is will Labour gift New Zealand First the Northland seat by not standing a candidate? Ardern says no. On this ONE occasion, I tend to believe her as I think she feels some loyalty to her candidate, Willow Jean Prime. Knowing Ardern that could change.
Fifth of the imponderables is how well will the National candidate Matt King perform. As Audrey points out, being a first-term MP he is unproven in handling the pressure of an important contest. From what I have seen of him I think he’ll be up for it.
It gives me no pleasure to have to keep disagreeing with Audrey but I am at odds with her comment that at the last election there was no incentive for Labour or Green supporters to again back Winston. She says this was because there was a real possibility he would hold the balance of power. Also, there was a real live possibility he would have installed a National Government.
Don’t be so naive Audrey.
The plain fact facing Northland voters is a vote for Jones is a vote for the status quo unless Peters is prepared to go cap in hand to National in search of a better deal. By Bridges putting his stake in the ground, any deal would have to be on National’s terms.
Well done Simon!
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