One fine day, possibly just seven weeks away, we will wash Winston Peters out of our politics. His hopes of re-election next month rest on being seen as a handbrake on the Government he installed - but it's not working so far.
He has been chipping at Labour and the Greens for months and it has made no impression on the polls. Most of his 7 per cent support at the last election has long gone and he has attracted none of the support National has lost in the pandemic.
It's true that his record in election campaigns makes it impossible to count him out. He plays politics the way Sonny Bill Williams played rugby, turning up for World Cups and disappearing for years in between.
And just as Williams might have made the starting XV at World Cups had he played more for the All Blacks, Peters might have been more than a minor party leader had he stayed with National. But at least SBW, by all accounts, was diligent behind the scenes.
Last week the Greens' co-leader, James Shaw, gave us an insight into the way Peters "works" in the Beehive. He lets governing partners do a great deal of serious policy development and waits until a decision is about to be announced - or even has been announced - before he blocks it.
Shaw cited the "feebate" incentive for low-emission vehicles. "If they were opposed to that they could have said so two years earlier," he said. "It went through many stage-gates and they were consulted many times. They killed it off at the very last minute, after the public service had wasted two years of effort.
"It's a pattern," he said. "We've just had the same thing happen with the domestic and sexual violence bill. That's been in gestation for as long as I can remember and right at the very last minute, they said they're not up for it."
Justice Minister Andrew Little has expressed the same frustration more than once. He and Shaw refer to "they" but everyone knows who they mean. There appear to be some good, hard-working people in NZ First. One of them, Cabinet Minister Tracey Martin, was herself embarrassed after telling media her party would not attempt to put abortion liberalisation to a referendum.
I don't care for most of the subjects of Peters' last-minute vetoes but I do care for integrity. When politicians, policy advisers and public servants were doing the long hours of detailed work, discussion and development of these programmes, you can bet Peters was never in the room.
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When those who were in the room reported progress to him, he quite likely didn't read it. He has never much liked paperwork.
A recently published biography of former Finance Minister Bill Birch contains some anecdotes of life with Peters as "Treasurer" in the first MMP coalition.
One of Birch's staffers recalls going into Peters' office for meetings. "There'd be a stack of paper there, it had that green material around it and he'd undo it. He hadn't read any of it."
And Birch remembers several times receiving an anxious call from Peters' secretary asking if he could meet an early morning delegation because the Treasurer hadn't shown up for work.
Peters entered Parliament more than 40 years ago and has hung around for no discernible purpose beyond his own amusement. Two generations have come into politics, risen to the top, governed conscientiously and left when their time was up, while he has been little more than a pest.
Whether it's raising silly points of order in the House or pretending to be prickly at questions from the media – or exploiting MMP - it's all just a game to him. It always has been. I was in the press gallery when he was a young MP specialising in muckraking.
Somebody would give him a hint of a scandal - real or imagined - and he would make the most of it, issuing tantalising accusations and always pretending to know much more than he did. It was frustrating to report him because there was a complete disconnect between the seriousness of his words and the smirk on his face.
His resentment of the leak of his pension overpayments is particularly rich considering how important the subject of superannuation has been to him and what he would have done with that leak against anybody else.
I also think that as a voter I had a right to know about it, even if it was attributable to inattention. Paperwork again.
It's not surprising he treats his own party and coalition partners with the same disdain he has for voters at elections, refusing to indicate his intentions until they have wasted their time.
Parliamentarians are given the title "Honorable". I believe Peters doesn't know what that means.