Saturday, 26 July 2008

Let's hear it for the boys

When the news broke that Winston Peters had accepted a donation from Bob Jones via the dubious Spencer Trust, I wondered aloud at work, 'Why would Bob Jones give money to Winston?'. Jones is a hard core idealogue of the right. Winston, by comparison, flits cheerfully about the political spectrum, advocating when it suits him interventionist policies of a sort that Bob Jones must despise.

My workmate answered my question, 'They're both blokey'.

Jones' subsequent media statements have shown just how right my workmate was. Jones described the circumstances of his donation on Campbell Live last night. Both Jones and Peters were a bit pissed, so Jones couldn't quite remember the amount he'd given Peters, but he knew it was over $100,000. They'd disagreed over the issue of Asian immigration: the donation was a 'no hard feelings' sort of thing. They clapped one another on the back.

The glibness of this - two drunken arses exchanging a sum of money well in excess of my annual household income - really offends me. And I'm stunned that for both men, serious differences of political principle seem less important than their allegiance to the boys' club. My principles, political and otherwise, are actually important to me. Given the idealogical song and dance Bob Jones has make over the last three decades or so, I would have thought that he, at least, would feel the same way.

It doesn't reflect too well on NZ politics, does it?


Anonymous said...

I heard the interview on Morning Report with Jones and what I liked (although I support neither set of poltics) was that he was just so open about the dealings and how that has gone on historically with all parties having slush funds etc and it being a old boys club and he didn't try to cover it up at all. I didn't like it - but it was a refreshing take.

Hugh said...

I think you'll find that other than Asian immigration Jones and Peters agree on almost every substantive issue.

It's not nearly as surprising as a social conservative like Owen Glenn giving money to Helen Clark.

weka said...

I think Jones said it was a $25,000 check that he gave out of friendship on that particular occasion (he didn't want to give anything, Peters wanted $50K). I'm not sure what the other amounts are, maybe earlier donations? Jones definitely said he no longer supported Peters, implying he used to support him.

I found myself appreciating Jones' being upfront about it too. Which is pretty bad really if the standard of usual political commentary is such that I have respect for someone like Jones.

Anna McM said...

On Campbell Live, Jones spoke about having given Peters 'a tenth of a million' - possibly a cumulative sum? To be fair, my kids were running about screaming and I missed some of the nuances.

I don't know heaps about the details of Bob Jones politics, but he was fiercely opposed to Muldoon's interventionism. Winston is not a world away from Muldoon in that regard. He certainly plays on economic nationalism when it suits him, and I'd be surprised if Jones was a fan of that - or of keeping state support at high levels for pensioners, for that matter.

ms poinsettia said...

In some ways I was impressed by Jones' comments that he has given money to almost all the political parties, except the Greens and the Maori party, since it suggests an ideological openness. But then was irritated when he said that while he would probably give money to the Greens if they asked, he wouldn't for the Maori party because of 'their thesis'. I really don't see how Maori advocating for Maori interests is any more problematic than National essentially advocating for Pakeha men.

Anna McM said...

Hmmm - is it ideological openness, or an attempt to buy influence in any possible government? Or does he just like drinking with people and handing out money? Jones is a strange character, alright. Maybe I overestimated the coherence of his present-day politics - they seemed to have changed over the years!

Hugh said...

Bob Jones was indeed fiercely opposed to Muldoonism in 1984, but he was a strong supporter of it in 1975, and right now he's a pretty strong supporter of Labour. As you say, anna, his politics are not that consistent, although to be fair to him the political landscape has changed a lot since 1975.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly happy that Jones is out there advocating the policies he does and supporting the parties that advocate them. But I've got to admit I don't see the particular circumstances of this transaction as extremely odious.

Poinsettia, I can think of many reasons not to support the maori party, but I doubt Jones would agree with me.

Anna McM said...

Another workmate told me that Jones once published a book about the key achievements of the first 100 days of the Labour Govt. It had blank pages. Mind you, Jones has been on the scene so long that it could have been the third, fourth or fifth Labour Governments he was having a go at! This is kind of funny in an 'I have enough money that I can afford to spend large amounts on a joke' sort of way.

I still think it's downright odious, but more on the part of Winston than Bob Jones, to be fair. It's no surprise to hear that a good deal of politics is transacted a long way from democratic process, but it never fails to piss me off when Winston goes dining with his scampi people, accepting money from his racing chums, etc. It reminds me of those informal channels of power that feminists and others have railed about - decisions made in the golf club rather than the boardroom, so that women or minorities are excluded. That sort of shite makes a hollow mockery of equal opportunity practices, democratic process, etc.

Having said that, if Bob Jones offered me $100,000, I probably wouldn't say no.

Hugh said...

I think you'll find that was the third Labour government - he was a serious fan of the fourth and has been fairly ambivalent toward the fifth.

This has always been the paradox of Peters - he rails against the corrupt back channels of politics, but he's arguably more adept at navigating and exploiting them than any other political party leader currently operating.

I've got to say, though, that it's less about excluding women and minorities and more about excluding the poor. Don't forget, at least in this transaction, minorities were not excluded.

Anna McM said...

Depends on what you call a minority! I take your point, though - politics of this sort certainly excludes those who can't afford to drink at whatever establishments those guys frequent. But given that men outweigh women in politics and the business world alike, it seems inevitable that women will be less likely to be involved in this sort of carry-on, or their interests represented through it. I'd be surprised if anyone ever gave Winston or any other politician a wad of cash at the pub in the hope advancing free primary healthcare or paid parental leave, for example. NB I'm not advocating that more women should give Winston kickbacks as an EO scheme!