Why Labour and the Greens Should Say Good Riddance to Peters

By   /   January 27, 2014  /   15 Comments

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It is noticeable at present how quiet and uncritical Labour and the Greens are of NZ First as they eye cabinet seats. No MP breaks ranks. Thus the scene is set to try and form a government with a man who refuses to tell the public who he would work with and on what policy grounds… Shouldn’t Labour say say good riddance to New Zealand First?

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SUMMER IS OVER and the editor has urged me back to work with a piece on National’s wooing of NZ First and Peter Dunne. The latter political courtesan is of course already successfully wooed and has been bestowed the “baubles of office” as Minister of Internal Affairs.

I had in mind the class struggle raging in Thailand and the Key plan to “save” failing secondary schools but both can wait until the next issues, important as they are. Because New Zealand politics has come down to this shameful horse trading by the largest parties for suitable support parties.

Dunne’s present position with National is where he belongs. He was part of the class hoisted into Parliament in 1984 on a policy platform that looked very much like that of the Alliance in 1996 only to surrender to, or rather throw himself at, Rogernomics. Mr Common Sense (which is usually shared prejudice) was born. He realised that he could sell himself then to the highest bidder and his political career could flourish with whoever was in power. By assuming an air of false modesty and proclaiming himself as a man not to be bound by the extremes of left or right ( I wonder what we should call crash privatisation of which he was and is a fervent adherent) he put himself in a position to sell himself to Labour or National as needs ( his) may be. His mentor is Marx (Groucho) and if a suitor does not like his current principles there is always another set to be taken out of his briefcase.

Courage and principles are not synonymous with Dunne. His many political betrayals are covered up with fine words. He could not even openly oppose National’s GSCB legislation and admit the methods he chose to undermine it. He does not openly oppose or endorse privatisation initiatives but waits to see which way the political wind is blowing. If you want the Man for All Seasons here you have him.

But it says something about Labour, past and present that it keeps the lines open to this political changeling. Rather than stake out a clear policy position based on social democratic principles and win support that way , uppermost is the thought that we must become government no matter if we enter that government crippled by unprincipled alliances with characters like Dunne whose every instinct is to preserve the status quo. That brings me to the other player Labour kowtows to.

I have wondered at the surprise evinced by so many that National and New Zealand First are sounding each other out. At the 1996 election New Zealand First thundered that it would never enter government with the arch Satan National. It garnered thousands of votes this way. National without the guarantee of Act and the Maori Party , another party that surprised all and sundry by throwing in its lot with National, needs Peters and vice versa. Any decent analysis of the track record of Tariana Turia rather than relying on her rhetoric would have shown that this was on the cards.

Horse trading.

Horse trading.

Peters can see that if he enters government with Labour and the Greens he is in a weaker position than if he is the sole reason that National can stay in power. Furthermore, Peters apart from braying that he is against privatisation, is a reactionary politician who in all aspects fits in comfortably with National. It should be remembered that the elite is not always hell-bent on following neo-liberal policies. The 2008 financial crisis showed that when needs be that neo-Keynesian policies can also be re-introduced – anything to save the system. And his foreign policy utterings over his long political career not just the “baubles of office “period, make Jonathan Coleman look like Hugo Chavez.

So why would Labour put its neck into the Peter’s noose rather than say good riddance to this most untrustworthy and reactionary politician? In 2005 Peters having largely at that time exhausted the votes to be mined by scare mongering about Asians, had turned to categorising all Muslim New Zealanders as terrorists or potential terrorists. One vicious and slanderous campaign was against 2 unsuspecting engineers who had emigrated from Iraq and were quietly, with their families, going about their productive lives as engineers contributing their much-needed skills to New Zealand. Peters under using Parliamentary Privilege slanderously claimed they were agents of Saddam Hussein and that one had served as his Police Chief. Not a word of apology for the hurt and suffering to the two accused and their families when the claims were shown to be groundless and indeed fabricated in their entirety. He had got his headlines.

I asked Labour’s Ethnic Affairs Minister to speak out. He nervously told me he couldn’t. Labour might need Peters, as it did, after the election. And of course at that time Peters was a valuable ally in the frame up of Ahmed Zaoui as he demanded incessantly that he be returned to his Algerian executioners and be denied due process in New Zealand. Carter said the directive came from the top.

It is noticeable at present how quiet and uncritical Labour and the Greens are of NZ First as they eye cabinet seats. No MP breaks ranks. Thus the scene is set to try and form a government with a man who refuses to tell the public who he would work with and on what policy grounds , launched his Party in 1992 with a savage attacks on Asian immigrants and continued this as his trademark and supplemented it with anti-Muslim tirades , coalesced with National in 1996 despite promises to the contrary, privatised with the best of them in that government and has continued his reprehensible political methods ever since. Oh and of course he voted for the Employment Contracts Act as a National Minister.

Labour, and the Greens, should view the miserable fate of the Dutch Labour Party presently in coalition with the majority Liberal party and shudder. They are hostages, even if willingly so, to neo-liberal policies. Their support is at rock bottom. Labour in New Zealand should set its social democratic policies out clearly, demand of possible partners what policies are agreed to and those that are not and for each possible partner to name its coalition partner so the public can vote for what it wants. The present course of kowtowing to Peters will end in tears well before the 2014 election.

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15 Comments

  1. Psycho Milt says:

    How is it that Labour can contemplate dealing with contemptible shits like Dunne and Peters? Look no further than fellow author Stuart Nash’s piece on winning being the only thing that matters.

    • Stuart Nash says:

      Milt; sorry – I don’t understand your attitude to politics. I would rather be in govt with Peters than in opposition without him. As mentioned, Labour can do nothing, achieve nothing and implement nothing (you get the picture) in opposition. And as mentioned in my post, it is always the economic and social manifesto of the major party that dominates the agenda.

      • Stuart, Milt has a point…

        Staying silent on Peters’ utterances – such as his odious “apartheid” statements at Ratana – lends credibility to him.

        “Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit”*

        I recall vividly Peters’ sell-out on 11 December 1996.

        I’m reading things in the media now, from Peters, that are making me feel very, very uneasy.

        I fully understand the need to rid ourselves of this shabby, self-serving government.

        I also understand that staying silent on Peters may be a two-edged sword.

        (*He who is silent is taken to agree; he ought to have spoken when he was able to.)

      • jenny says:

        “….a man who refuses to tell the public who he would work with
        Matt Robson

        New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has made it pretty clear that if they have a choice, NZF will go with National.

        Winston Peters has said that he will go with “the largest polling party”, which on all projections, will be National.*

        Another thing;

        For an avowedly nationalist party not to come out and defend the flag, shows Peters further positioning himself to work with National. If Peters decided to stick up for the flag, (a very popular stand with his mainly more conservative and older constituency), this would immediately preclude any sort of deal with National who are dead set on changing the flag**

        Another indication of Peters direction is his tactical choice of race scapegoat de jour. Maori have always been seen as an ally of Labour rather than the National.

        If NZF don’t have the choice of going with National, it will mean that the Labour Green bloc has the majority. And Winston’s support would not be needed. The only purpose for Labour bringing NZF into such a coalition, would be to act as a Rightward counter to the Greens. Winston being the political opportunist he is, would be up for it. But this would be a cynical move by Labour, (though not unprecedented. When Labour have had the choice – They have always chosen to exclude the Greens in favour of a conservative coalition partner. Labour won’t have that option this time.) Labour will not be able exclude the Greens totally, but they will have the option of checking them with a Right wing party.

        “Shouldn’t Labour say say good riddance to New Zealand First?”
        Matt Robson

        Yes they should and as loudly as possible. Because a vote for Winston is a vote for National. And this message must be got out there.

  2. fambo says:

    All so true – really looking forward to your Thailand article.

  3. brian says:

    I to look forward to your article on Thailand, but find your referring to it as a class struggle suggests a lack of understanding. I think thereis alot more at play than class. Perhaps a little more research into the convicted and on the run criminal that pulls the strings may help. ” Thaksin aided his wife to purchase government land at a reduced rate of 1/3 in violation of the law prohibiting political leaders from engaging in business dealings with the government. Thaksin was consequently sentenced to two years in prison but fled the country and never served his sentence.” http://www.andrew-drummond.com/2014/01/is-great-thai-heist-coming-to-end-or.html has some good coverage.

    • Jack says:

      Winston is one of the few honest MP’s in Parliament always has been was once NZ’s most preferred PM, problem was he told the truth and the truth sometimes hurts. He has a truckload more credibility than ACT’s Cabbage Boat Skipper and the devious little toad in the National Party who has frequent memory lapses.

  4. lolitasbrother says:

    hey don’t worry jokers, give him to us, we make him Minister of foreign affairs NZ Nat Govt 2014

  5. Ovicula says:

    The Labour Party should look to itself before it slags Winston First off too much. I’d take him before a few they still have hanging around from the days they began Rogernomics. If they actually stood for something, maybe they wouldn’t be sobbing about their possible coalition partners, but would still have loyal voters who wanted something more than neoliberalism with a bit of official charity thrown in.

  6. Stuart Nash says:

    If you talk to those in the know, they will tell you that Winston was actually a very good Minister of Foreign Affairs under Labour. Let’s not forget that Winston is the consummate politician (you can take that as a complement or a criticism) who has a fair idea about what it takes to get elected. He may well hold the balance of power post-election, and to openly declare war on him serves absolutely no purpose except to give his policies legitimacy and Winston press (which he is very good at manipulating). We all know that Winston likes nothing more than an average journalist for his evening meal: and the voting public delight in his performances. If you really don’t like Winston, then the best thing to do is make him irrelevant (which is what the opposition should be doing to Key: don’t waste parliamentary questions on Key, Joyce, English but go for the weakest in the pack like Foss, Parata, Guy etc). Winston’s an exceptionally good performer; but only when given a stage…

  7. Rob says:

    Better Labour stick with NZ First, rather listening to the Whano Ora supporters who now hate Winston, because of his Apartheid Comment in Ratana. What he said is absolutely right and that’s what most people in New Zealand wants and that single thing will grab huge support and there is every chance they double their seats in parliament 2014. People are very confused about Greens Cannabis Law which Labour objected straight away and Deep Sea Mining of Labour which Geeens objected. Better Labour talk closely with NZ First and get them early. They might perform better this time than Greens,never know. Not many people are happy with the extreme left communist attitude of green. Cunliffe know that, that’s why his plans are at the center.

  8. I find it interesting that a former Alliance MP is writing a column that talks about the coalition situation in 1996 … but completely omits the fact that it was Jim Anderton’s refusal to work with and support a Labour-NZF(-Alliance) government which necessitated NZF’s decision to work with National.

    Is that not part of the Alliance’s official history or something?

  9. jenny says:

    “….a man who refuses to tell the public who he would work with
    Matt Robson

    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has made it pretty clear that if they have a choice, NZF will go with National.

    Winston Peters has said that he will go with “the largest polling party”, which on all projections, will be National.*

    Another thing;

    For an avowedly nationalist party not to come out and defend the flag, shows Peters further positioning himself to work with National. If Peters decided to stick up for the flag, (a very popular stand with his mainly more conservative and older constituency), this would immediately preclude any sort of deal with National who are dead set on changing the flag**

    Another indication of Peters direction is his tactical choice of race scapegoat de jour. Maori have always been seen as an ally of Labour rather than the National.

    If NZF don’t have the choice of going with National, it will mean that the Labour Green bloc has the majority. And Winston’s support would not be needed. The only purpose for Labour bringing NZF into such a coalition, would be to act as a Rightward counter to the Greens. Winston being the political opportunist he is, would be up for it. But this would be a cynical move by Labour, (though not unprecedented. When Labour have had the choice – They have always chosen to exclude the Greens in favour of a conservative coalition partner. Labour won’t have that option this time.) Labour will not be able exclude the Greens totally, but they will have the option of checking them with a Right wing party.

    “Shouldn’t Labour say say good riddance to New Zealand First?”
    Matt Robson

    Yes they should and as loudly as possible. Because a vote for Winston is a vote for National. And this message must be got out there.


 
Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,