The Political Amnesia Of Winston Peters’ Critics

By   /   October 5, 2018  /   24 Comments

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Far from undermining our parliamentary democracy, the Electoral Integrity legislation which NZ First insisted form a central part of this new coalition government’s programme now stands as a solid protection against any repetition of the constitutional outrage of 1998. That blatant attack on MMP which Winston Peters perennial critics either cannot, or will not, acknowledge.

THE MOST CURIOUS FEATURE of the near universal criticism of NZ First’s waka-jumping legislation is its political amnesia. It’s as if New Zealand has never experienced a government held in place by the deliberate perversion of the proportionality upon which the entire MMP electoral system rests. A government conceived in treachery and held in place by Members of Parliament willing to nullify the Party Votes of the electors who put them there. A government whose blatant betrayal of the new electoral system was quietly elided from the media narrative. A government whose principal victim was cast in the role of prime perpetrator. The Government of Jenny Shipley.

To hear the likes of The Listener and the NZ Herald tell the story, NZ First’s Electoral Integrity Bill represented a deadly thrust at the heart of what it means to be a Member of Parliament. Rather than acknowledge the role of the individual conscience in parliamentary affairs, they argued, the legislation would turn New Zealand’s MPs into mindless automatons; unalterably programmed to toe the party line. The historical fact that New Zealand has been governed by highly disciplined political parties for the past 80 years is simply not acknowledged by the legislation’s critics.

What these curiously ahistorical critics appeared to have in mind vis-à-vis the “right” of parliamentarians to arbitrarily dissolve all moral and contractual obligations to the political party whose endorsement was crucial to their electoral success, is the romantic figure of a lonely and tormented MP torn between loyalty to party and duty to conscience. All of them appeared blissfully unaware that the actual turncoats of New Zealand’s recent political history had, with the honourable exceptions of Winston Peters, Jim Anderton and Tariana Turia, been sitting MPs who had failed to secure re-selection from their party, or, like the ill-starred son of Norman Kirk, become embroiled in scandal, or, were straightforward political traitors. Hardly shining beacons of ethical responsibility!

Of those exceptions, only Jim Anderton failed to do what the framers of the Electoral Integrity legislation urged any MP unable to accept their party’s policies to do – resign and secure a new mandate. Interestingly, Anderton’s refusal, following his bitter repudiation of the Labour Party, to seek a mandate from the electors of Sydenham was roundly condemned at the time. His famous quip: “I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me” – so oft repeated by critics of the waka-jumping bill in 2018 – received scant acknowledgement and even less support from the right-wing pundits of 1989.

It is also interesting to note that when both Winston Peters and Tariana Turia resigned their seats and were triumphantly re-elected by their constituents, the news media responded with thinly disguised disdain. The refusal of the parties they had left to field candidates against them, far from being seen as a resounding vindication of their position, was used as a means of belittling both their courage and their success. The electors’ emphatic endorsement of Peters and Turia was given far less weight by the news media than the haughty condescension and vicious criticisms of the victors’ former colleagues.

Which brings us back to the government formed by Jenny Shipley in August 1998.

The crisis was triggered by the National Party’s decision, in contravention of the National-NZ First coalition agreement, to privatise its shareholding in Wellington Airport. When Peters responded by declaring the agreement void he discovered that no fewer than 8 of his 17 MPs had turned their coats and were proposing to remain part of Shipley’s new government.

The commitment of Tau Henare, Tuku Morgan, Rana Waitai, Jack Elder, Ann Batten, Tuariki Delamere, Deborah Morris and Peter McCardle to the voters who had sent them to Parliament, as well as to the party they had solemnly pledged to support, was forgotten. The 8 MPs of the far-right Act Party, which the deposed National Leader, Jim Bolger, had pledged to keep out of government were now crucial to the maintenance of Shipley’s majority – as was the bewildered ex-Alliance defector, Alamein Kopu. Shipley and her turncoat crew were guilty of a constitutional outrage: they had profoundly distorted the proportionality of the Parliament elected in 1996 and thus made possible a government which, had the choices of the electors been respected, could never have been formed.

That the Governor-General of the day, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, acquiesced in this distortion of the people’s will is only marginally less outrageous than the distortion itself. The proper course of action would have been to dissolve Parliament – thereby requiring Shipley and her supporters to secure a new mandate from the voters. Instead, New Zealanders were forced to wait for another twelve months before passing judgement on Shipley’s “Turncoat Government”. Unsurprisingly, it was thrown out.

That the critics of NZ First’s waka-jumping legislation have forgotten these events is extremely telling. It betrays their profound diffidence towards the whole democratic process. Twenty years on, they are still unwilling to sheet the blame home where it belongs – with Jenny Shipley and her motley collection of chancers, zealots and defectors. Even today, the man they cast as the villain of the piece; the person held responsible for the collapse of the National-NZ First Coalition in 1998; is the man most wronged by the whole sordid event – Winston Peters.

Far from undermining our parliamentary democracy, the Electoral Integrity legislation which NZ First insisted form a central part of this new coalition government’s programme now stands as a solid protection against any repetition of the constitutional outrage of 1998. That blatant attack on MMP which Winston Peters perennial critics either cannot, or will not, acknowledge.

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24 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Yes Chris we now need that free to air public tv channel Labour promised us!!!!

    Johnny Key killed off any truth to power in NZ!!!!!

    But now under Jacinda with ‘her transformative’ Government; – she must restore her government’s pledge to restore the public free to air channel for the peoples voice to be heard now as we have a highly compromised media that has tainted the truth.

    Now there is virtually no honest investigative journalism as national has deliberately sabotaged our free speech media that has been canned since 2009.

    ‘Let’s do this Jacinda’ – before your first year has ended.

  2. CLEANGREEN says:

    “That the critics of NZ First’s waka-jumping legislation have forgotten these events is extremely telling. It betrays their profound diffidence towards the whole democratic process. Twenty years on, they are still unwilling to sheet the blame home where it belongs – with Jenny Shipley and her motley collection of chancers, zealots and defectors.”

    Well said Chris;

    We are very fortunate to have Winston watching over this cringeworthy national Party lot and are fortunate that Winston was a recipient of the National party hostility in his political past during the 1990’s.

  3. WILD KATIPO says:

    Excellent, Mr Trotter,… that despicable bloodless coup made by Jenny Shipley and those turncoats from NZ First , with one of them,… still wheeled out to make commentary’s – Tau Henare, – to this day.

    That was a real low point in NZ’s history.

    And not only that , the public then and now are generally against the sale of our assets/ SOE’s. Well do we remember the arrogance and appalling contempt for the voters wishes displayed with that neo liberal cabal.

    ——————————

    … [ That the Governor-General of the day, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, acquiesced in this distortion of the people’s will is only marginally less outrageous than the distortion itself. The proper course of action would have been to dissolve Parliament – thereby requiring Shipley and her supporters to secure a new mandate from the voters. Instead, New Zealanders were forced to wait for another twelve months before passing judgement on Shipley’s “Turncoat Government”. Unsurprisingly, it was thrown out ]…

    ——————————

    And the Governor General Hardie Boys, – echoes of Jerry Matapere as well.

    One of the reasons why I supported both Jim Anderton and Winston Peters was because both never reneged on their positions opposing neo liberalism,- nor paid heed to the constant snide media attacks on them.

    This Electoral Integrity legislation ensures these political buccaneers cannot make a repeat of what occurred under Shipley. And yet the fact the populace had to wait to get rid of an un – democratically formed govt , that it was a continuance of the self justification and arrogance of those neo liberals, – demonstrated just how far we had wandered from the path of elected officials being answerable to the voting public.

    Democracy and elections had become a complete sham under Shipley.

    There are those far right wing posters and bloggers today who can see no wrong in what Shipley did, they give her full support. One can only deduce they are displaying their real contempt for democracy and the voting public.

    We are a lucky country to have NZ First ,- and its leader Winston Peters.

    One of the last old time pre 1984 leaders who saw right through the Roger Douglas neo liberal lies and not once caved in to any one of them.

  4. Grandma Moses says:

    ….”electoral integrity”….ya what? We get what Rothschild wants!
    The rest is theatre to mesmerize the masses. Toss another Christian to the lions.

    • Iain McLean says:

      GRANDMA MOSES;

      “We get what Rothschild wants!
      The rest is theatre to mesmerize the masses”

      Yes; and this is what soooooo…so many forget. (or simply don’t know.)

      Our leaders and politicians are mere middle men/woman.

      The ‘go between’ the people and the ‘controllers.’

      They are scripted and controlled by their boards.

      Their legislation and speeches are written for them.

      The scourge of Personality designed Politics.

      And who has ultimate control of the boards?

      “Why is a privately owned and run banking institution issuing and controlling the currency of my country?”

      It is interesting to note that within the very large Reserve Bank of New Zealand coat of arms, located on the wall to the rear of the reception area of said central bank, you will see a red shield. As we know, in old German, red shield translates to Roth-schild (red-shield).

      (Photograph found down 40% of page.)

      http://www.wakeupkiwi.com/The-Conspiracy-to-Rule-the-World-2.shtml

      This is some of them anyway.

      Professor Quigley wrote:

      “The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.” Tragedy And Hope, (see Chapter 20).

      Otherwise known as Full Spectrum Dominance.

      Thank God for the arrival of NZFirst.!! Top article Chris.

      Cheers.

      • Afewknowthetruth says:

        I very much agree with what GRANDMA MOSES said, and your response that ‘Our leaders and politicians are mere middle men/woman. The ‘go between’ the people and the ‘controllers.’

        With respect to ‘so many forget (or simply don’t know)’, I believe less than 1% of the population understand that money is created out of thin air and that interest is charged on money created out of thin air.

        That seems to match the level of awareness that extraction and burning of fossil fuels is the foundation upon which the entire financial-economic system is now predicated.

        It also seems to match the level of awareness that GDP is a seriously flawed index which promotes aspects of the economy that cause massive damage.

        Of course the mainstream media bombard the populace with nonsense that reinforces the delusions about money, energy and the environment, and promote even greater dysfunction and destruction that we are already experiencing.

        Schools, colleges and universities, rather than challenging what is happening, do a great job ensuring pupils/students are locked into dysfunctional thinking and are not provided with the information necessary to understand the fundamental flaws in the system or that the system taking society towards catastrophe.

        I do not share your enthusiasm for NZ First because NZ First endorses and promotes much of the same nonsense that the other parties in parliament endorse and promote, e.g. economic growth and prosperity via the burning of fossil fuels.

        I don’t hear any calls from NZ First that we should abandon GDP as a measure of progress or prosperity. I see no evidence anyone in NZ First even understands why GDP is such a bad index, or that growth in GDP equates with further disruption of the environmental factors that make life-as-we-know-it possible.

        The Guardian environment correspondent suggests that ‘Two forthcoming major climate talks offer governments an opportunity to respond to this year’s extreme weather with decisive action’.

        Well, knowing that ‘the controllers’ are dedicated to maintaining their control over both governments and us and not seriously impacting on the activities of banks and corporations, it naturally follows that, although the Guardian indicates ‘the next three months are crucial for the future of the planet’, no decisive action will be taken and we will remain on track for a largely uninhabitable planet a few decades from now.

        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/05/why-the-next-four-months-are-crucial-for-future-of-planet-climate-change

        • Marc says:

          And so went it with this government, from opposing the TPPA to signing then a slight modification of the same agreement as CPTPP or what is now called.

          From doing other things that were more or less promised before the election to doing various flip flops.

          https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements-concluded-but-not-in-force/cptpp/

          The powers of business and the banks are massive, and politicians will in most cases cave in immediately once they face the pressures by the vested interest holding parties just mentioned.

          The mostly commercially focused MSM communicates its version of things to the public, and few if any dare expressing true dissent, rather back off and carry on as usual. For the rest we get little cosmetic policy changes, like putting lipstick on a pig.

          And nice speeches come from that snout, like sweet melodies saying nada of substance.

        • Iain McLean says:

          AFKTT;

          “That seems to match the level of awareness that extraction and burning of fossil fuels is the foundation upon which the entire financial-economic system is now predicated.”

          Not for much longer.!

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/newenergyinventionsnewsarticles-0-20

          As for other issues raised?

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/

          Vital Reading:

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/mk/liftingtheveil

          I have not come across, in ny extensive tine and 8yrs research,(retired)
          such a well articulated and well designed depository of trustworhy
          information that you may never find anywhere else.

          So vital to understanding the machinations of the world we live in.

          Finally a site with solutions: Summary, conclusions, more questions.

          For those that say; “But what can we do?” Well here it is.

          Education is the first step. Such a huge data base.

          Cheers.

        • Iain McLean says:

          AFKTT;

          “That seems to match the level of awareness that extraction and burning of fossil fuels is the foundation upon which the entire financial-economic system is now predicated.”

          Not for much longer.!

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/newenergyinventionsnewsarticles-0-20

          As for other issues raised?

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/

          Vital Reading:

          https://www.wanttoknow.info/mk/liftingtheveil

          I have not come across, in my extensive tine and 8yrs research,(retired)
          such a well articulated and well designed depository of trustworhy
          information that you may never find anywhere else.

          So vital to understanding the machinations of the world we live in.

          Finally a site with solutions: Summary, conclusions, more questions.

          For those that say; “But what can we do?” Well here it is.

          Education is the first step. Such a huge data base.

          Cheers.

          • Afewknowthetruth says:

            You have linked an obscure website that regurgitates decade-old articles from the mainstream.

            • Iain McLean says:

              AFKTT;

              “None are so blind that do not want to see.”

              From REUTERS no less.

              https://www.wanttoknow.info/a-evidence-coalflyash-toxic-chemical-geoengineering-the-troposphere-consequences-public-health

              And this was my main point.

              ALL THE INFORMATION IS THERE IN THE MAINSTREAM.!!!

              Cheers.

              • Afewknowthetruth says:

                The toxic nature of emissions from coal plants is not news. I vividly remember, at the University of Auckland and at an energy conference in Auckland, challenging all the bullshit about ‘clean coal’ that was being promulgated by the NZ coal sector and certain politicians in the early 2000s.

                The injection of chemicals into the atmosphere, a form of geoengineering, is not news either. Atmospheric seeding has been used for decades in attempts to modify weather.

                What is much more important is the ongoing mass-scale modification of the atmosphere by commercial and military aircraft that occurs simply because they fly in such huge numbers and such huge distances.

                Try mentioning to a politician the injection of ozone depleting chemicals into the atmosphere, or the disturbance of the natural cloud cover, or the inordinate contribution to overloading of the atmosphere with CO2 by aircraft, and then wait for the blank look. I’ve seen it many times.

                You have obviously lived a very sheltered life and have done little research or activism compared to some of us.

  5. Glen says:

    At last, an accurate explanation that is gounded in history. It’s been puzzling to see the lack of any proper analysis of this topic. I assume it’s because this view doesn’t fit with the narrative most people seem to tell themselves, which is that NZ First destroyed that 1997-98 government… which is simply not tue.

  6. Ngungukai says:

    The Neoliberal Experiment was a disaster for NZ, despite MSM telling everyone it was the best thing since sliced bread.

  7. Observer Tokoroa says:

    NZ First – Congratulations Winston

    As a relatively young politician Winston Peters, born of both Maori and Pakeha descent, named his Political Vision as “New Zealand First”.

    In a way it was similar to the John F Kennedy challenge -“Ask not what the Government can do for you, but what You can do for the Nation.”

    Winston’s was and is an expression of a “could be” United Nation. Not made up of ruthless Bankers, Lawyers, Tax Dodgy Accountants, Boardsmen, Opportunists, Greed Merchants, Thieves, and Murderers.

    Our Nation is still not United. A large section of NZ people swing with the Queen of England the wealthiest woman in the world. She carries a very tight purse.

    The Nationals here are a branch of the UK blighted Aristocracy – complete with a strong taste for slavery (such as zero hrs) and loads of sickening condescension. They are the Simon Bridges, Amy Adams of Low Wages – Poverty Enforcers.

    Another section sadly seems to think they are miraculously a completely different species of human DNA. They spend a large part of their energy blaming everyone but themselves for everything they don’t like or don’t achieve.

    We Park our Cars with the Korean firms. Bank our Money with Australian Banks. Send our kids to schools that teach and exalt division – not unity.

    We sell our Assets via smug Bastards – such as Sir John key and Sir Billy English.

    We sell our State Housing via National Parliamentarians to friends of the National Party – to make sure that poor people do not get housing.

    We allow our kids to be bashed against walls; our mothers and fathers to drink themselves stupid; to suck on deadly drugs; and get raped. On every important OECD life giving Stat – we are at or near the bottom of the pile.

    No. We are not United. We are a mess. We build our buildings so that they leak. We do this in order to demonstrate our stupidity. No one is accountable.

    We drive our Cars – so that we can kill more people proportionately than anywhere else, and enable us to claim we are road Cannibals. We don’t give a F***

    We bash our Nurses, our Teachers horrendously. Our Abuse is brazen.

    We do not need any more people who are like us. We want people who have pride and purpose and walk upright. People who do not bash their kiddies up – but who nurture them

    NZ First – must get rid of its human rubbish – and then walk tall – for the good of all. We do not need limp Governors. Or National Party miserable wastrels, misfits and criminals.

    • Grandma Moses says:

      Observer Tokoroa … if only.
      This game of chess has been in play long before the Grand Waka slid up onto the sand. Every move is carefully planned and every politician is part of the game whether the player be Red, Blue, First or any other name. They have to be otherwise they are not allowed in the game. These people don’t care about us, they only care about themselves and how well they can survive the demands made on them by their masters:
      http://www.theeventchronicle.com/study/city-london-aka-crown-controlling-worlds-money-supply/
      Take their chessboard and on it each square has a misery. Which one will they choose for us tomorrow?

    • Ngungukai says:

      Her family hung one of my forebears in the Killing Times in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 1600’s they were not particularly nice people, confiscated the lands early 1880’s and shipped many of the family to Canada. Luckily some of the family ended up in NZ.

  8. Ngungukai says:

    The Highland Clearances is a must read for anyone of Scottish Heritage here in New Zealand.

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      The treatment of Scottish peasants and Irish peasants by the English overlords was appalling. But please remember that English peasants suffered similarly at the hands their overlords.

      It is said that after a rebellion against Henry 8th, the leaders were hunted down and hanged, and this was reported to the king; his response -not enough, go back and hang a whole lot more; perfectly innocent people were rounded up and hanged to meet the king’s requirement for more hangings.

      In addition to the pure brutality of the overlords, there was greed almost beyond belief. The common lands that people had used for millennia was targeted for private ownership.

      The undermining of traditional industries by industrialism and loss of common rights resulted in people (and children) being driven into factories and mines, where they slaved long hours under appalling conditions to get enough money to survive. Those that objected or attempted to feed themselves by taking game birds etc. from former common lands were imprisoned, deported or hanged.