I’m pleased Winston Peters is standing in this election. It’s best his half-baked, anti-Māori, anti-Treaty dog whistling is out in the open rather than growing and festering in dark corners.
You can always rely on Winston to pull out all the stops in the leadup to an election – scratching every itch and massaging every prejudice to get to 5% of the vote. He’s all bluff and bluster, arguing that black is really grey and because grey has some white in it then black is really white.
I feel confident to say he has held every position on every issue I’ve ever heard him talk on, swapping sides in an argument as often as he changes his double-breasted suits and of course often holding conflicting positions simultaneously.
He is a volatile mix of cantankerous contradictions.
He does have a point when talking about “Māori elites” extending their power while working class Māori continue to suffer but this argument would only hold water if he was as critical of Pākeha elites paying bugger all taxes and increasing their obscene wealth at the expense of everyone else. But no, Winston is silent on Pākeha corporate bludgers and in fact runs his campaigns on big, fat cheques from Pākeha rich pricks.
On the minor parties leaders debate on TVNZ last week the parties were asked what they would do about putting resources into clamping down on corporate tax evasion (of up to $7 billion per year) Peter’s said he had an unmatched track record compared to anyone else because 30 years ago he followed through on the so-called “winebox” inquiry right to the Privy Council with complaints about the IRD and the Serious Fraud Office turning a blind eye to tax evasion.
If you want to know about the winebox inquiry then follow it up with a search on DuckDuckGo. The more honest answer, which Peters’ didn’t give, was that he has no particular policy to tackle tax evasion – his political donors wouldn’t like that. You can be sure he will never raise it in coalition negotiations and if it is raised by someone else Winston will bypass it.
Winston does want to be taken seriously though and he will again seek the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs in a coalition government. He loves nothing more than flying first class to meet the powerful and influential around the world. The baubles of office indeed.
So what’s his political role this election?
Winston Peters is providing a political safety valve for a hard-core, hard-bitten, largely Pākeha, minority who feel deeply threatened by Māori assertion of their rights as tangata whenua and for their rights under the Treaty to be considered at all levels of government rather than swept under the carpet of our dominant Euro-centric politics.
Peters (along with Act and National) criticises developments such as the national Māori health authority and claim we are moving towards “apartheid” and “race-based healthcare”. He claims these changes are anti-democratic. He is wrong.
Māori assertion of their identity and calls for “Māori delivery of services for Māori” represent a flourishing of democracy. Bringing more people “into the tent” means more people engaged in democratic participation. It means more democracy – not less. As Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi pointed out during last week’s debate Māori have been “in opposition” for 200 years and will continue to suffer under the “tyranny of the majority” unless democratic forms are expanded and developed to bring them in.
Pākeha need not be afraid of Māori assertion of self-determination – we should welcome it. If we get things right for Māori then we will get them right for everyone.
But Winston and his rich-prick mates don’t want that – they want the status quo where Pākeha rule because they are the majority and Māori rights are recognised at the whim of Pākeha rather than as of right under the Treaty.
There are plenty of historical examples of people such as Winston Peters both here and overseas. People happy to betray their own roots for the interests of a Euro-centric majority.