Barry Soper: Winston Peters hangs 10 on crest of popularity wave

By Barry Soper

Winston Peters comes in for his fair share of media criticism, but most of it's deserved. Photo / Andrew Warner
Winston Peters comes in for his fair share of media criticism, but most of it's deserved. Photo / Andrew Warner

He's a political showman who likes to keep 'em guessing, including most of those in his own party.

But Winston Peters, known in some circles as Luigi, because of his sharp, double-breasted pinstripe suits, and thick wavy, salt and pepper hair, with far too much pepper for a man of his age, is hanging 10 on the crest of a popularity wave that he looks set to ride all the way to the ballot box next year.

His annual knees up with the disciples saw him very much in charge and hitting all the familiar bases, like current immigration, always a winner when there's growing pressure on housing, hospitals and schools.

And bashing what he sees as mainstream media bias, always an easy target. If the media's actually doing a halfway decent job it'll always be accused of bias, depending on what side of the political spectrum you're coming from.

It's true, he does come in for his fair share of media criticism but then most of it's deserved and it's hard to imagine that this political ringmaster can't see that, although he'd never admit it.

Like his call for high school students to sit their drivers' licence as part of their NCEA exam, which was Labour's policy last year and is something they can do now anyway.

The new element is to get his Grey Power devotees volunteering to put the young through their paces.

Peters pulls no punches, even when it comes to the people he may be sitting down with to talk turkey before the Christmas break next year.

He sees John Key's political philosophy as being akin to those in the Kardashian family reality TV show.

He's christened the PM as Keydashian, all photo ops and a shallow blokeyness. And on the other side they're no better, with him accusing the Labour/Green cobbers, of living a life of privilege and thinking that manual labour's the Prime Minister of Mexico.

With holding his opponents in such low political regard, you'd have to ask why would he sit down with any of them to form a Government?

In truth, he'd prefer than he didn't have to but in reality he knows that if he wants a final sniff of power that's what he'll have to do.

For those of us who've observed him for his entire political career it's hard to imagine New Zealand First without him.

If roving ambassador Shane Jones is the answer post Peters though, as many are suggesting, then the likes of disgraced American politician Anthony Weiner still has a long career in front of him!

- Newstalk ZB

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