If it was anyone but Winston
It's all about evidence. Winston structures these things, his slush funds, so that there is no evidence that he has touched the money, or he knows the identity of the person giving the money. He would, however have some idea about the amount of money. But this is not enough to ping him. At least, not on the Owen Glenn saga, or the Vela brothers accusations. So Winston will ride this one out amid resignation demands from just about everyone. But he will come out of it tainted. Tainted enough to shave off the narrow cushion that keeps his head above the 5% vote threshold? If it was anyone but Winston we would say yes. But he's Winston, so... you'll have to keep holding your tickets till election night... and perhaps beyond.
NZ Herald's John Armstrong reports from the press pack:
It does not yet qualify as a full-blown scandal. It is still some way off being a full-scale crisis. But the overwhelming feeling around Parliament yesterday was of things teetering on the brink, that Winston Peters - for all his formidable survival instincts - risks drowning in the sheer volume of allegations and unanswered questions now raining down on him.
In his absence - he is in Singapore - the Prime Minister is doing her level best to help him while carefully quarantining Labour from suffering collateral damage.
However, if he wants to remain Foreign Minister in the interim, he has little choice but to accede to the Prime Minister's rescue strategy.
And she was at it again in parliament this afternoon. Labour retrospectively changed the electoral law earlier this term to let themselves off the hook for rampant and illegal overspending on their election campaign. No-one expects people who do that to offer a credible response to whatever bullshit Winston has been up to.
Winston's crew were up and down one after another again today to spout off at their leader's prowess. Ron Mark was batting questions down implied even any hint of potential corruption. The PM was backing him all the way. John Key had his especially thick woollen mittens on when he asked some rather lame questions - not of Peters, but of Clark. If they both acted in concert to sink him - he would be gone most likely. But Labour just cannot afford the inevitable election his resignation would cause. He could play the bullied victim card and probably still pull 5% - the canny bastard. So, Key was out to make the PM look weak and of having low standards. But we all know that in the same place he would act similarly. His lines lacked potency.
And so now a slew of inquiries may well eventuate. And each investigation by whatever body (privileges committee, IRD, MP's pecuniary interest registrar, Auditor-General etc.) will come back to the same question: what evidence exists that Winston knew of these things? Given the people involved are loyalists - not disgruntled insiders - I doubt any smoking gun documents will come to the attention of the authorities.