Tuesday 22 June 2021

Who Else Is There? Why the Right Needs Winston Peters.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Enlisting the unique skills of Winston Peters is now the Right’s key mission – if it is serious about bringing the drive towards a bi-cultural state to a halt. Conservatives must see that neither Judith Collins nor David Seymour have the chops for this critical historical task. Only with Peters’ help can Labour be defeated. 

IF WINSTON PETERS did not exist, the Right would have to invent him – and it can’t. Peters is a product of the assimilationist era of New Zealand’s social history. That period between the end of World War II and the 1970s when the central objective of race relations policy in New Zealand was to create “Brown Pakeha”. Citizens who were proud of their “Maori heritage”, but otherwise determined to make of themselves and their offspring well-educated and well-adjusted citizens of New Zealand.

A young Maori person emerging from the University of Auckland with a law degree in 2021 would be extremely unlikely to see themselves as a Brown Pakeha. In the nearly fifty years that have elapsed since Peters’ graduation, the assimilationist policies of the 1950s and 60s have become the focus of bitter criticism. It is difficult to see a contemporary Maori law graduate devoting their newly-acquired skills to derailing the bi-cultural project on behalf of the Pakeha Right.

That being the case, the Pakeha Right is stuck with Peters. Who else can be sure that his critique of “Maori separatism” will not be met with angry charges of racism and white supremacy? Peters’ Maori ancestry cloaks him like a political force-field, allowing him to speak out fearlessly where Pakeha right-wingers are tongue-tied by timidity.

In addition to his ancestry, Peters brings the invaluable gift of sincerity. He dubbed his party “NZ First” because he is fiercely and unquestionably loyal to the country that made his rise to power and influence possible. He refers often to his dual inheritance: of being a judicious blend of British and Maori cultural influences. The New Zealand he prioritises is a projection of his own experience – the best of both worlds.

Peters’ other big advantage is his age. Many commentators fail to grasp the importance of the fact that he has been a politician for more than forty years. That he entered Parliament in 1979 means that his career has spanned the whole of New Zealand’s recent political history: from the era of his mentor, Rob Muldoon, to that of his erstwhile protégé, Jacinda Ardern (who was not even born when Peters first became an MP). Along with the Baby Boomers and what remains of the Greatest Generation, Peters remembers the “old” New Zealand, and can justly claim to have resisted most of the worst aspects of the “new” New Zealand. Political longevity and consistency, properly presented, can be an attractive combination – as the career of Bernie Sanders attests.

Such is the scale of the problem facing the Right. The sheer impossibility of finding another politician with Peters’ extraordinary credentials. How can they not ask Peters to front the fightback against bi-culturalism and the forces which, in his speech to NZ First’s AGM on Sunday, 20 June 2021, he dubbed (with his trademark wicked accuracy) “Ngati Woke”? Who else is there who can pull the Right’s irons out of the fire?

But, if they can’t invent him, and they can’t do without him, then those committed to preserving the state bequeathed to New Zealanders by the imperialism and colonialism of the Nineteenth Century, and fine-tuned by the social-democratic nation-builders of the Twentieth, are going to have to protect him from the weaknesses that have plagued him from the very beginnings of his political career.

Peters is prone to the worst kind of cronyism: to building and maintaining tight little cliques of confidants and admirers who learn very quickly how to navigate their boss’s idiosyncrasies or find themselves ejected unceremoniously from his inner circle. The danger here for Peters is sycophancy: the absence of a warning hand upon the shoulder in precarious places.

How much more effective Peters might have been as a political leader if he’d been willing to take advice from someone other than himself? Certainly, he could have avoided the pitfalls (and enormous costs) arising out of his seemingly insatiable appetite for litigation. He might also have avoided the many errors arising from his aversion to individuals as talented and ambitious as himself. Those who are truly great recognise and welcome the greatness they see in others. They do not drive it away. To be the only big bullfrog in a tiny pond is no great achievement.

If the Right is serious about asking Peters to defeat Ngati Woke, then it must also, for once, make sure he has all the financial resources needed to do the job. Too often in the past, Peters has been forced into the orbit of interests in the market for a political fixer. If Peters has not learned by now that any attempt to draw a veil of secrecy across such negotiations is bound to end in disaster, then he never will. Under no circumstances should those keen to harness Peters’ talents leave the management of NZ First’s funds to its leader and/or his friends.

This, then, is the Right’s mission – if it is serious about bringing the drive towards a bi-cultural state to a halt. Conservatives must know by now that neither Judith Collins nor David Seymour have the chops for this critical historical task. Only with Peters’ help can Labour be defeated.

But, if the more conservative elements of the ruling-class are serious about bringing into play Peters’ unique strengths, then they must be equally committed to protecting him from his own worst weaknesses. He needs people around him who are not too proud to admit that there is no one else. Experts who know all the latest campaign tricks. A team willing and able to give this extraordinary performer the opportunity to do what he does best: be the Winston Peters that Winston Peters invented.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 22 June 2021.


David George said...

People may not be aware that our media, the recipients of 100 million of tax payer funding are required to toe the party (or should that be Te Paati) line on Maori issues among other things. They must: “actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Maori as a Te Tiriti partner”. All applicants must show a “clear and obvious” commitment to the Treaty and te reo; no exceptions.

Whether you support those aims or not, I think most would agree that we've come to a very dangerous place when our organs of public information and discourse are willing to be bribed into ideological submission by the totalitarian edicts of government. I suspect that the recent cancellation of Michael Basset was implemented by NZME in order to comply with the government's required official position. We've no idea what else has been self cancelled or sent to the memory hole of course but it's all deeply concerning.

It's not so much that "the right" needs Winston, we all need politicians and commentators of every stripe willing to courageously tackle the contentious issues before us. Jacinda & Co obviously think we should all just STFU and do as we're told.

Tom Hunter said...

You sound almost nostalgic for the old bugger?

The "Right" did not ask him to step up, especially considering that he unleashed this crap upon the nation in the first place in 2017 and that he has not done a damned thing about any of the issues he has so assiduously mined for votes over the last thirty years.

Whether it was the "neo-liberal" monster of Douglas/Richardson he would halt in 1996 to immigration and now this, Peter's has only ever been effective on the hustings. In power it's been back to the comfortable leather chair, the whiskey and the cigars. He so transparent you can almost admire him.

Sure, he only needs 5%, and the past will give him every confidence that he can fool the voters for the umpteenth time, but I think all but the dumbest 2% are wise to him now. You can call them "The Right" if you wish, and you probably will.

Odysseus said...

The Ardern government's promotion of racial division has opened wide the gates for Winston Peters to make a comeback. Biculturalism does not mean racial separatism or race-based vetoes held by one community over another. It is about being comfortable with and proficient in one's own inherited culture and another locally important culture.

Peters' outspokenness creates headroom for other politicians who are concerned about the country's direction. His willingness to take on the craven and incurious media is a tonic. They thoroughly deserve the ridicule he heaps on them. For that alone it is "welcome back Winston".

Andrew Nichols said...

My politics spans from a youth as fervent Muldoon Young Nat at Auckland Uni to a keen Anderton NLP supporter (I was at that launch in Sydenham where you spoke) to today at 63, a progressive Christian Green. This metamorphosis has two reasons. My scientific education and my faith. To stay put ideologically in some reactionary past like Peters and his supporters is tragic and divisive. He is a symbol of a past that is dying.

Anonymous said...

If the Chinese or Russians decide to let loose their arsenals and destroy the planet, all that will be left are cockroaches, and Winston Peters...

There is a strange symbiosis at play here. The Woke need Winston so they have someone to rail against, and Winston needs the woke, for the same reason. The Woke represent Winston's best chance to get over 5%

Barry said...

The Natipnal party have pretty much committed themselves to the wilderness when they decided to cast themselves loose from Peters ability to get the 5-8% of the votes. Without him (or possibly Act) they will remain on the outer and possibly become irrelevant.

The Barron said...

Winston was a member of the Muldoon government in 1984 when Naida Glavish, a Post Office worker at the time, answered the phone 'Kia ora'. Muldoon denounced this. Society evolved, and Muldoon is seen as an anachronism.

37 years later, Winston still cannot tell the difference between social evolution and political intervention. It is a shame, Peters has given much to NZ that he could fashion to a positive political legacy. Instead, he has also become an anachronism.

Please Chris, don't encourage Winston to go out like the old neighbour yelling over the fence at the teenagers for playing 'rock and roll'.

Chris Morris said...

Winston may well talk thetalk when he is out of government, but on the three separate times he has been in government, there has been no actions, other than featherbedding of his own interests. In many ways, he is just the Joe Biden of NZ politics. Anyone swayed by what he now says has serious issues

Anonymous said...

You have a short memory, Chris. Back in 2017, English beat Ardern by around 10 percent of the vote. If not for the amoral MMP, National would have been in power. Labour are not unbeatable, and if fact, Bridges was outpolling her in the party vote for two solid years, despite them being a new govt, and should have been in honey moon mode. Covid upended the polling, it was an event on par with a war. All incumbent govts have benefited from it. Do you really think betrayed feeling Nat voters would ever trust Peters again? 2017 was all about utu and bribery, and National were never ever going to be chosen, and they knew it. Why do you think its right that Ardern gave him whatever it took for him to anoint her as PM, despite the fact she had less votes?? Deputy PM, the Northland reelection fund, Foreign Minister etc, all at a wonderful 7 percent of the vote. Wow, isn't MMP just a dandy! Talk about ripe for allowing complete corruption: he gifted her power and she did the same for him, despite what the majority had voted for. Hitler would have been proud, eh what!


John Hurley said...

Notice the way Tops has failed. The first rule in politics is learn to call your people (not tell them they stink).

I bet most Maori are not Ngati Woke. Maori were conservative National voters until Marcuse and Angela Davis's views penetrated the academy.

The Rhubarb Terrorism Conference is a useful showcase for life under Ngati Woke: Spoonley does a garish Maori greeting; Jacinda smiles does facial gyrations and gushes about nothing and a Middle Eastern woman educates us about Te Tiriti (which Ranginui Walker says excluded her). Another Middle Easterner educates us to the fact that "white supremacy" is resistance to immigration. She says we must be careful how we talk about migrants 110% positively.

Meanwhile Juliet Moses says we must condemn all support for terrorism evenly, citing a demonstration in support of Hezbollah 1n 2018 and audience members call out "Free Palestine" followed by a walkout. Possibly more important than her comments on Hezbollah were her critiques of Critical Theory and when the Critiquers are critiqued there is little left of their argument. Critical theory is judgement and demolition of an entity with the end of destroying it (not to understand nuance). The silly Terrorism Conference (not to mention The Panel with Chestor Burrows yesterday) is what is (apparently) supposed to replace what they have swept away.

I can only assume Israel and Juliet Moses are to be deconstructed (critiqued to atoms)

Anonymous said...

Winston Peters ..Sincere..You must be f....ing Joking

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I told you it was dangerous to write off Winston.:) The old tusker is back eh? More of a zombie maybe then a tusker but still there. And he did get me my gold card. Seriously though, it was a mistake for National to make sure he was outside the tent pissing in. Whatever his faults when he was minister he constructed an excellent policy on Maori affairs which of course National couldn't handle due to the general racism in the party. Wasn't it Bolger that said Winston "Wasn't good under a high ball"? I doubt if things have changed a great deal.

John Hurley said...

Does Winston have Parkinson's - see the thumb?

sumsuch said...

Bloody good 'device' by any measure, Winston. His endless silliness showed up the silliness of the 'main' parties.

Makes me cry, those wasted decades. See it from the neediest's point of view. Or, the NZ view.