COMMENT:

Forgive me for being cynical but I think we can all take a fairly good guess at why Winston Peters and Paula Bennett suddenly want the election delayed, can't we?

Just think about those private poll numbers I ran you through two days ago.

Labour on 49 per cent.

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National on 35 per cent.

New Zealand First and the Greens on 5 per cent each.

National is a write-off on that. There's no way it can form a government. NZ First would be yesterday's news too. On those numbers, Labour can govern alone, or with the Greens only if it has to.

A November election – which is what Winston wants – gives them a bit of a chance.

Because in September, Labour could still be basking in the glow of the handling of this crisis. It's what happens. Governments generally get a bump in the polls while they steer the country through hard times.

The election date should stay unless it's absolutely impossible to hold an election logistically. Photo / Chris Gorman
The election date should stay unless it's absolutely impossible to hold an election logistically. Photo / Chris Gorman

But the longer it goes on, the greater the chance the polls will start reversing as jobs are lost, houses are lost, businesses fall over. There's a chance that the Government will be blamed for the decision to shut down the economy.

A delay buys the Nats and Winston some time.

The Electoral Commission is confident the election can go ahead on September 19. But the truth is a health crisis will make it more tricky.

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If we're still telling over-70-year-olds to stay at home, it's going to be hard for Winston to hold his blue-rinse, town hall meetings - in fact, will he even be allowed out?

It's going to be hard for National leader Simon Bridges to go out there and meet people and try to charm them face-to-face, given that TV doesn't work terribly well for him.

Winston Peters is calling for this year's election to be delayed. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Winston Peters is calling for this year's election to be delayed. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It definitely benefits the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has all the attention and has mastered television.

But ... tough luck.

The election date should stay unless it's absolutely impossible to hold an election logistically. If we're in an alert level 4 lockdown for example, it's impossible. But otherwise, it's got to go ahead.

Right now a change might benefit National and NZ First. But what if the polls change enough for a delay to benefit Labour?

Elections shouldn't be timed to best suit the polls of any particular party or government.

The election date is set. It needs to stay.

Any change runs the risk of being seen as an attempt to screw the scrum.