Am sure I'll forever regret admitting this but, well... I voted for Winston Peters. There, I've said it. Would've put my hand up earlier had it not been for so many family members and good friends spluttering over his return to Parliament (and wondering aloud what idiot could ever have given him a second thought, let alone their vote). Well, this idiot will now try to explain. Just wanted to let the heat die down a shade before I came clean.
Let's go back to that November election. National were going to win at a canter, we all knew that. Labour were about to be ransacked; the Greens were looking strong but inexperienced. Folk with any social democrat-type leanings were resigned, well before polling day, of being represented by an immature and wet behind the ears opposition. Not only would National win, it seemed they'd win so well there'd be nothing left to keep them in line.
Of course, I voted for Phil Goff as my electorate MP. That was straightforward enough. He's been, and still is, a conscientious parliamentarian, full of goodwill and good judgement. But the party vote? As much as I worried about where the Government was about to take us, I was even more worried about the inability of the opposition to stop them. There were no real shit-stirrers among them; no mongrels at all. That's why I voted for Winston.
It's true; I never expected so many of his loony tune colleagues to come in on his coat-tails. Still, I'm glad he's there. Peters is one of those politicians who's probably more effective in opposition than he is in Government. He's what so many of his opposition colleagues aren't: antagonistic, provocative, not afraid of anyone and able to sniff out a dodgy political agenda with a peg attached to his nose. It takes one to know one.
Boock makes a very good point about Peters; whilst he is the consummate opposition politician, he's never quite been able to master being in government. He stands against things rather than for them, so opposition comes more naturally to him. Three times he has been in government, and three times it's ended in tears.
Boock continues, firing a broadside at Labour:
Let's be clear on this; I'm no admirer of Winston Peters' politics. Some of his ideas and thoughts are abhorrent, particularly when it comes to Maori and immigration. But given we're being led by a party just as obnoxious, it seemed only fair to ensure there was someone equally filthy and as bloody-minded in the opposition. The bigger obstruction he could be to John Key's mob, the better. Sometimes you have to fight like with like.
Can't say I'm regretting my vote. In fact, if it wasn't for Winston and Russell Norman over the past few months, the opposition benches would've seemed pathetically weak, and at a time when there's been so much opportunity to prosper. Say what you like about Peters but he knows his way around the chamber. He's embarrassed the Prime Minister over Dotcom; battered National over youth pay and education. He's been the sharpest arrow in the opposition quiver.
More to the point, his profile only seems to have highlighted David Shearer's shortcomings as Labour party leader. At a time when Labour are in desperate need of personality; of being led by someone with the plausibility of a Norm Kirk, a David Lange or a Helen Clark, they've instead found themselves with a Bill Rowling or a Geoffrey Palmer. Good people; worthy politicians, of course. But they simply don't win you elections.
Once again, Richard Boock is right on the money. Labour seems determined to prove that it's man and woman the weakest of the opposition parties with more than one MP. Even over the last few weeks, with the Government fighting fires everywhere, Labour has managed to achieve the impossible; going backwards in the polls at a time when David Shearer's leadership should be secure and his and his party's popularity should be rising.
But surely, the other opposition parties must be really worried when someone like Richard Boock had to hold his nose and vote tactically for Winston Peters because Boock didn't reckon that those opposition parties deserved his vote. It shows the depths to which Labour in particular has plummeted.
They say that confession is good for the soul, and we hope that Richard Boock is feeling better for having got that off his chest without having to visit the local parish priest. And we hope that he one day finds forgiveness; the measure of his repentance though is whether he's so desperate that he has to repeat his sin in 2014!