Patrick Gower: Winston Peters wants utu from Steven Joyce

OPINION: Winston Peters could be out for revenge against National over their attempts to take him down during the campaign.

A New Zealand First source has told Newshub Peters is particularly resentful towards Steven Joyce, whom he personally detests.

Peters believes Joyce orchestrated a four-pronged attack against him by National:

Steal NZ First policies

Patrick Gower: Winston Peters wants utu from Steven Joyce
Photo credit: Newshub.

The first prong was to steal policies and ideas from Peters, or suggest ones which would appeal to his voters.

Those were things like bootcamps for young serious offenders, getting tough on gangs, sanctions against beneficiaries who fail certain criteria such as drug tests, and the 110km/h speed limit.

Squash his party vote

Patrick Gower: Winston Peters wants utu from Steven Joyce
Photo credit: Newshub.

The second prong was to squash his party vote. The idea was to boost National's popularity, while forcing Peters' head below the 5 percent threshold.

They did boost their own votes, but failed to force him under 5 percent.

Drive him out of Northland

Patrick Gower: Winston Peters wants utu from Steven Joyce
Photo credit: Newshub.

With the third prong, drive him out of Northland, they ran a successful, gloves-off campaign with Matt King. He beat Peters to become the local MP.

The aim of this was to take away Peters' security net to get into Parliament. It actually worked but because he had that party vote, he was safe.

Drop a scandal on him

Patrick Gower: Winston Peters wants utu from Steven Joyce
Photo credit: Newshub.

And last but not least: Peters believes National dropped a scandal on him.

His pension over-payment was leaked to the media. It hit him hard but didn't knock him down.

Now he wants utu - revenge.

The Newshub tip-off

The tip was given to Newshub on the Friday six weeks out from the election just as National was undertaking its co-ordinated attack on Winston Peters.

It was an anonymous phone call, from a blocked number, from a man who knew lots of details.

It could have been a public servant.

But investigations by the Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue and Ministerial Services, which manages staff in the Beehive, have all failed to find the leaker.

That leaves a senior crew as suspects - two ministers, Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett, as well as the Prime Minister's chief-of-staff Wayne Eagleson.

Winston Peters' second National victim

Paula Bennett has been upfront about the fact she won't be Deputy Prime Minister any more.

She follows David Carter, who has to give up being Speaker because Peters hates him and won't countenance it.

Will Peters claim another scalp?

There is talk that Winston Peters wants another scalp if he is to do business with National. It could be Nick Smith. Or it could be Steven Joyce - Peters may be hinting that Joyce is unacceptable as Finance Minister?

NZ First similarities with Labour-Greens

The sources inside NZ First have directed me today to a number of speeches Winston made recently in which his approach to the economy is much more aligned with Labour and the Greens than it is with National.

This is all a clear play by NZ First to get the message out there that it's not a done deal with National, and they're deliberately getting the message out to raise the stakes in the negotiations.

Tomorrow, we see the man himself. Winston Peters is set to front up at Parliament and all the political positioning will simply go next level.

So National might be smiling on the outside - but they are full of fear, waiting and wondering if Peters' utu is about to strike.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz