Winston Peters past his sell-by date?

It only took a moment, an instinct to get the last word. But Winston Peter's closing remarks on Q+A raise questions about his conviction and comebackability

Television has its strengths and of course its limitations. One of its greatest assets is that it gives you 'moments'; a sudden revelation, a slip of the tongue, a facial expression or an impetuous outburst that remains in your mind long after the grist has been forgotten.

We had one of those on Q+A on Sunday, when Guyon Espiner interviewed Winston Peters. It was a telling two seconds that has had me re-thinking my gut feeling that New Zealand First will return to Parliament after this year's election.

I've been of the mind that Peters will squeak back in. Why? Mostly because there's a space in the political marketplace for his kind of politics worth at least five percent of the vote.

He will give voice to those suffering at the (invisible) hands of our stalled economy. He will be an effective government critic, especially on asset sales and foreign investment. His memory and vocabulary are powerful weapons.

And, in contrast, he will benefit from that fact that most New Zealanders will have forgotten about the murk of scandal that hung around him just three years ago.

Even with the Owen Glenn funding allegations fresh in people's minds and an ascendant John Key putting the boot, in he was able to win 4.6 percent of the vote in 2008. So you'd think that three years of memory loss and economic woe would be enough for him to salvage another half percent.

This year, however, has not been kind to him. The earthquakes in particular have changed the mood of the country in ways we still don't entirely comprehend. There's a wariness abroad in the land; a sense that things have changed.

Which makes me wonder whether Peters is now a man out of time; a face that no longer fits.

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