Winston Peters was right when it came to Simon Bridges, and yesterday Audrey Young asked him about his prediction.
Unusually for Peters, who has harboured a deep animosity for the past five National leaders, he wished Muller and his deputy, Nikki Kaye, well.
“I’ve known Mr Muller since his university days and wish both him and Nikki Kaye the very best in their new jobs.
“Their difficulty of course is the National Party is deeply divided, with too many factions all wishing to march to the beat of a different drum.”
Peters was not particularly gracious to defeated leader Bridges, and revived an earlier prediction he had made about Bridges.
“Which other politician put their reputation on the line and said ‘this guy is never going to make it to the election?'” Peters said.
Bridges and his deputy, Paula Bennett, were both defeated.
There is a strong feeling within the National Party that Peters led parallel talks with National and Labour after the last election in 2017 but had no intention of going with National.
It was revealed after the talks that Peters initiated legal action against Bennett and four others (over details of his superannuation overpayment) during the negotiations.
New Zealand First went on to choose Labour, anointing Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister and making Peters Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in a Coalition Government, supported by the Greens.
National’s policy ruling out New Zealand First was endorsed by the National Party board and the caucus and would require the support of both to have the policy overturned.
It is something they are going to have to review if they want a chance at governing after this election.
I happen to know that NZ First wanted to go with National but couldn’t because Bill English completely stuffed up the negotiations and thought he could buy off NZ First with seven ministerial portfolios and just $200m for the Provincial Growth Fund. He read the room so badly that he never realised that NZ First didn’t want jobs, they wanted to reset the economy and boost the regions.
It was Bill English’s hubris and arrogance that cost them a deal.
Perhaps Todd Muller will read the room a bit better.
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