Signs that National is getting nervy about Peters
Prime Minister John Key is making an election promise to properly fund war veterans to attend World War II commemorations in Europe in the next four years, following outrage over the previous treatment of war heroes.
The policy would include business-class flights, accommodation, meals and medical care, and is a response to the way veterans were treated last year in attending the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.
The Herald revealed in July that the veterans received only $2000 worth of support from the Government and had to pay out of their own pockets, arrange their own itineraries and stay in modest accommodation.
In contrast, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp spent more than $26,000 on flights and luxury hotels for himself and his staff, and Australian Crete veterans were flown over by their Government, staying in the same lodgings as Australian Defence and Government officials, and were looked after by doctors.
Dr Mapp initially defended his travel costs but then apologised, and the Government promised to look into how it should fund veterans for other 70th anniversary commemorations for World War II.
The release of this policy could be read as indicating that National are beginning to get nervy about Peters being on the scene again. Despite not running for an electorate and having little attention till he got just under the 3% mark needed in last weeks Colmar Brunton poll for mainstream television coverage, the signs are there that regardless of his past controversies, voters are not turning away from Peters. Friday's Roy Morgan poll (which like the Horizon polls tends to have a little more volatility) put Peters at 4.5% showing NZFirst as potentially within striking range of the 5% mark, which would provide them with seven seats.
National's appeal to veterans here is a clear sign that underneath the cool public veneer, National are worried about him returning to Parliament (although it should be said that the extra 0.5-2% needed depending on what poll you are going from is still a lot of votes). This is not surprising, as while Peters in some polls seems to be gaining votes primarily from Labour, he is extremely talented at appealing to older citizens and his ability to provide coherent arguments around National policy such as asset sales should not be underestimated. He is also very fast on his feet with a good memory for political history. Peters' probability of returning to Parliament is surging on iPredict to just over 5%.
While it still looks like it will be a National government, as David Farrar blogged on Friday, there is a slim chance of a swing if one went on the Roy Morgan poll, with National's 61 seats lining up against a potential opposition of 59 seats. Given that Dunne is definitely in trouble in Ohariu and is not really registering on the party vote, and that ACT has another entirely different debacle occurring, National is preparing to cover its bases with an appeal to the seniors to avoid any impact on its vote. At any rate, many in National are not fans of Peters so it is hardly surprising that they would attempt to carve into the vote he is currently carving off others.