Good on Winston Peters for calling out some of the drivel that has been passing as news over the past few days.
The notion that Peters would be seeking revenge on National for regaining the Northland seat is ridiculous.
Peters may have plenty of reasons for seeking revenge - but him losing Northland is not one of them.
The notion that Bill English exhorting voters to "cut out the middle man"[Peters] and vote for National was some kind of dastardly conspiracy against New Zealand First is laughable. It's called an election.
The whole idea is to take each other's party vote unless you have an Memorandum Of Understanding or electoral accommodation and even then, it doesn't really count.
There was no deal, formal or informal, that suggested National had to save New Zealand First or be kind to it - or vice-versa. Why would there be? Peters was out to take as many votes from National as possible. Why wouldn't the opposite be perfectly acceptable?
To construe it as anything other than acceptable behaviour in an election is naive.
"Cut out the middle man" comes nowhere close to being dirty, any more than Peters should be criticised for imploring voters to "buy some insurance"at the election by voting New Zealand First - as he done for decades now.
Peters himself made several references to the Northland result in his thoroughly good-natured press conference conducted in front of the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell the morning after the election.
He referred to his win in the 2015 byelection as winning the "impossible" byelection, acknowledging that it had been a one-off. He was very honourable in the way he conceded defeat after National regained it.
He did not criticise the voters, acknowledging that that was their judgement and there was no point criticising it.
But he actually cited Labour and the Greens in that press conference for going full out to win the seat.
In the end it turned out not to be strategic. He did not need it as a safety net as NZ First did not fall below five per cent.
But National has always fought hard for the seat. Labour gave him the byelection win by encouraging voters to support him, then decided to fight hard for it again in the general election. Labour should not be criticised for that either.
National won Northland back fair and square, just as Peters took it from them in 2015.
Peters may have some reason to exact some revenge over the person who leaked the details of his superannuation overpayment, but he does not know who it is.
The other factor in Peters losing Northland and a huge dollop of support in provincial New Zealand was, in fact, Labour's tax plans, or Labour's tax uncertainty.
Peters steadily built-up rural support was annihilated in a few short weeks by the prospect of a capital gains tax - Jacinda Ardern never ruled it out applying to businesses such as the farms - and a tax on water irrigators, around which the figures were fluid. New Zealand First's soft vote fled to National.
Lo and behold, investigations by Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development into Inland Revenue and the Ministry for Social Development have found no culprit for the leak.
Peters may have suspicions. Apparently he suspects Paula Bennett. No wait, he suspects Steven Joyce.
He does not know. No one but the leaker knows.
That fact is that Peters will come to his view about who is best to lead Government, National or Labour, on far less flimsy grounds than the nonsense that is being peddled at present.