Flowers won't fix what 'dirty rotten Nats' did to Winston Peters - Willie Jackson

Winston Peters holds a grudge against the National Party, and that's the real reason he rejected a bouquet sent to him in hospital by Paula Bennett, according to Labour MP Willie Jackson.

"Paula Bennett sent me flowers in hospital," the Deputy Prime Minister tweeted on Thursday. 

"Seriously bad taste. Also, they looked like she just picked them from a local park! Gave them away to an elderly patient. Not knowing their origin, she really appreciated them."

Peters' tweet didn't initially get a reaction out of Bennett. Jackson told The AM Show on Friday it was "a nice thing she did, but clearly Paula didn't pick the right flowers and [he got] upset".

"I was sitting by Paula Bennett last night on the plane back [to Auckland], I was having a few laughs. I think I told her 'Winston's right onto it, isn't he.' I said, 'You should have got the right flowers, Paula.' 

"The reality is he's old-school. He doesn't forget what the dirty rotten Nats did to him." 

Jackson was referring to both Peters' forced exit from National in the early 1990s, and the leak of Peters' pension overpayments in 2017, which he has blamed on his former party.

"This matter's in court at the moment, so I'm not going to talk about it," said Judith Collins, appearing on The AM Show alongside Jackson.

"There seems to be a love-hate thing going on." 

Judith Collins and Willie Jackson on The AM Show.
Judith Collins and Willie Jackson on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

Peters sued Bennett and then-Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, claiming they breached his privacy. 

Sam McDonald - a Labour member who unsuccessfully stood for the Tamaki electorate in 2017 - responded to Peters' tweet, accusing Bennett "or Anne Tolley" of the leak. Bennett responded to deny the accusation, saying "a lot of people knew" about Peters' overpayments.

Jackson said Peters was a "warrior" who "would have been the leader of the National Party if they hadn't been bitter and twisted". 

Since leaving National, Peters has thrice been in a position to choose the next Government - in 1996 he chose National, but twice since then has sided with Labour.

Peters' tweet mocking Bennett's flowers received more than 800 likes, but the majority of the nearly 250 replies from other Twitter users were negative.