Last night, NZ First’s Winston Peters waved his magic wand and bestowed Labour Party’s Jacinda Ardern with her wish. With a sparkle of flashing teeth and a wave of her hair, she became the Prime Minster elect.
It was definitely Winston’s night, but the lead up to his announcement was quite a giggle. TV cameras provided heart stopping coverage of the press playing a running game of elevator roulette, to see if they’d be the first to catch Winnie cruising the lifts on his way to the podium. I was sure Winnie was watching them live on his phone, with a cheeky gleam in his eye and a stash of popcorn at his side.
As the NZ First caucus entered the press room, you could just about see the buttons popping off their shirts, as they puffed out their chests with pride, and held their grins in check.
But there was no doubt – this was Winston’s moment. Never before, and likely never again, would he hold the nation to attention quite like he did last night. As he launched into his speech, delivered with a great dose of mana, he recapped his journey on the political landscape, and set the scene for the direction he was heading. The decision to go Labour he said, was what he and his party felt was best for New Zealand.
Questions followed but the dance was back on, and no real answers came.
Next up was Jacinda, wearing party pride with a flaming red frock, and her pearly whites sparkling bright. For a new leader, she was impressive. Her speech was engaging and inclusive, and delivered in an extremely commanding manner. First on her speech list, was acknowledgment of the talent and leadership of National’s Bill English. A nice way to tip her hat to the National voters who are left wondering what the heck happened.
Jacinda confirmed that Winnie was offered the Deputy PM role and was considering. She also announced that NZ First would have four cabinet positions, plus an undersecretary role, and that the Greens would receive some Ministerial portfolios.
Oh yes that’s right – we forgot about the Greens! Well we didn’t, but it sure felt like Winston did, with not many, if any, mention of the party during his announcement speech. No doubt he’s leaving the job of handler of the minions, in the capable hands of Jacinda.
It’s unclear whether Winnie will take up the Deputy PM role. If he does, he’ll get the chance to play at being PM once more, and surely that would make fun reading when he writes his memoirs.
I feel for Bill English though. By the time all of the party agreements are signed, and Jacinda’s swigging back a celebratory drink as NZ’s new PM, Bill won’t have even made it to the one year milestone. After winning the majority vote, that seems just a little unfair. However, he strikes me as a pretty switched on chap. I’m sure it won’t be long before he pulls up his long socks, and sighs a big sigh of relief that he doesn’t have to wrestle with Winnie a moment longer.
For now, it’s time for the talk back hosts to find some new fodder (please!) and for Wincinda to show us what they’re made of.
All eyes on you.
*Just in case anyone is unsure, Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern are not in a romantic relationship, just a political one.