Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Sympathy for Winston? Musings.

This morning on TV3, Chris Trotter conceded that Winston is in the poo - and after likening Winston's treatment by the media to gangrape, that's a big concession. Leaving aside Trotter's choice of metaphor, I'm not sure why he and others ever defended Peters - others including Peter Williams QC, who rather righteously claimed Winnie is the victim of a politically motivated campaign to damage him.

From where I'm standing, this looks like an instance in which the media has done its job. Winston consolidated his career by making spurious attacks on Asian immigrants. Shouldn't this have been a giveaway that personal integrity is not his strong suit? Mike Moore recently stated, 'I'm guilty of forgiving, even covering up for, Winston Peters over the years.' And why did Moore and others turn a blind eye to Winston's misdemeanours? Because he's a 'good bloke to have a beer with', apparently.

MMP requires parties to work with others they may not have much philosophical sympathy with. It makes for strange bedfellows, but surely these bedfellows don't need to show too much enthusiasm between the sheets - and certainly not to the point of ignoring dodginess? I'm particularly confused as to why Moore would ever have covered up for Winston, since the two were political opponents. Obviously, Labour's coalition relationship with NZ First came into being after Moore left the scene.

I can't help but be a bit annoyed with those who have encouraged us to look the other way while Winne has been going about his shenanigans. Lord knows they're certainly distancing themselves from him now.

And I don't like to sound curmedgeonly, but the tale of Mike Williams, taking calls from the Prime Minister on Owen Glenn's yacht, kind of irks me. I don't expect the Prime Minister to carry my furniture into my home in the manner of Michael Joseph Savage, but arranging six figure donations during a retreat on a millionaire's yacht suggests a lifestyle distant from that of Jo/anne average.


Hugh said...

Mike Moore is probably referring to the period between 1993 and 1996 when he was seriously looking at leaving Labour to lead a new political party. Although Mike Moore's particular brand of new-right populism was particularly difficult to pin down at the time (he now seems to have lapsed into being a Brashite conservative) his party would have defaulted to being roughly in the centre of the political spectrum. Given that he and Peters shared several key political allies, not to mention yet-to-be-Wanganui-Mayor Michael Laws, it's likely that they would have been political allies. That, I'm guessing, is where the covering up came in.

Of course historically Moore didn't form his party, was returned to the Labour frontbench (if New Zealand First had gone with Labour in '96 Moore would have become Foreign Minister - again) and New Zealand First ceased to be an ally. But between his ousting by Clark in late 1993 and his accepting the Shadow Foreign Affairs portfolio in mid 1996 he and Peters were ideological allies even if not formally tied by any agreement between their parties.

I don't have much sympathy for Labour. Their decision to enter coalition with New Zealand First is a regrettable facet of political reality - it's not their fault 5% of New Zealanders voted for him, and to be fair Winston has not been as bad a Foreign Minister as many predicted he would be. But getting to the point where the extraparliamentary wings of the parties (not that NZF can really be said to have one) are working together is unjustifiable. It's a sad sign of the degree to which Labour has become a top-down party - doubly ironic given that the current parliamentary leadership earned their chops fighting alongside the party membership against the new-right executive in the 1980s.

Idiot/Savant said...

I'm not sure why he and others ever defended Peters - others including Peter Williams QC, who rather righteously claimed Winnie is the victim of a politically motivated campaign to damage him.

In the case of Williams, the reason is pretty clear: he was paid to, it was his job as Peters' lawyer. As for the others, I can't understand it either. Coalition is one thing - but I don't see why it should involve carrying water for a thoroughly reprehensible individual.

Anna said...

Williams went above and beyond the call of duty, though. He was quite moralistic in his defense of Peters' character. I thought this was odd - if he'd stuck to defending the legality of Peters' actions only, he would have been on safer ground.

Hugh said...

Williams went above and beyond the call of duty, though. He was quite moralistic in his defense of Peters' character.

With so many court cases hingeing, rightly or wrongly, on the character of those involved, a lawyer who doesn't try to maintain the image of his client as a person of good character would not be doing his job properly.

Carol said...

I find the whole situation depressing. It's all very mucky. I'll be glad to see Peter's political end.

But it seems to me we were sent towards this route by racist dog-whistles and other attacks initially by Brash's Nats, and by the dubious and unfair funding arrangements used by the Nats.

Now it looks like they will end up benefiting. I don't think the Nats are any "cleaner" than Labour over-all.

I hope once all this Peter's stuff is over, we can get onto the elections and focus on policies.

My desire is for a government that will support issues of social justice, and that does not end up just benefiting the rich and powerful.

I have also not liked the macho style of Rodney Hide and the largely male Nats in their manner of attacking Peters and Labour. None of the players in this affair come out looking good IMO. Even Owen seems to be more into self-promotion and worrying about his reputation, than in what's actually good for the country.

As others have said, it all looks to me like a good argument for ending or severely restraining private donations to political parties.

stephen said...

"Winnie is the victim of a politically motivated campaign to damage him."

Well, yes, he is. And he deserves it. Tee hee.

Julie said...

I heard Fran O'Sullivan on the radio today that all this had got her thinking there might be something in this state funding of political parties after all. If the legacy of this whole affair is that we get a transparent system of state funding then it may have been worth it perhaps?

Of course if Labour lose the election because of mud sticking (fairly or unfairly), or because the NZF vote goes to the Right rather than them, or because a large wasted vote for NZF makes it harder for Labour to get the numbers, then it'll be bad news in the short term.

As for Williams being Winston's paid lawyer, I'm surprised he could find one after the revelations about how Mr Henry basically has to chase up donors to covers his fees ;-)

Carol said...

Hmm. Yes, I agree, Julie. The two parallel interviews with Owen Glenn and Mike Williams last night on Close Up made it look to me like Glen's memory is not to be trusted. He also came across as self-serving - claiming to have won the election for Labour based on some (dubious & not followed) advice he claims to have given Labour.

It's looking like Glen was hoping to enhance his own reputation and get some kind of public (diplomatic?) role by giving funds to Labour and maybe also to NZF. When it looks like his reputation may in fact be tarnished by it, he then turns on the parties he funded.

This is not a good look for those wanting to argue for private funding of political parties IMO.

Carol said...

Oh, and PS. It's still looking to me that the most evil thing Peters has done is in his promotion of race hatred in his immigration policies and pronouncements, and in his arrogant macho stance in the way this is done. This is what he should be most strongly criticised for IMO

tussock said...

I'd imagine most in-crowd folk feel for Winston because they know that this same sort of thing goes on all the time in National and Labour as well. That whole fairness thing, as much as it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke.

And don't believe for a moment this will finish Peters, I've heard far too many old folk say lately how much he's going to need their party vote now. Plus, he's always polled far higher on the day than before it. Plenty of time for leader's debates and such to give him some positive screen time.