20 October 2005

"Bitter? No, not bitter at all"

Marc Alexander: A Government at Last! Yeah Right
Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 4:33 pm

Labour clearly had the numbers to take a first stab at forming a government. But the resultant mishmash of important portfolios with Foreign Affairs and Revenue sitting outside the Executive bereft of the discipline of collective responsibility, is the ultimate in a cynical display of perk-grabbing hedonism. Clark, like a bulimic at the fridge of power, has been expediency personified. She hasn't let one principle interrupt her gorging at the footstool of history. She is a canny woman and there can be little doubt that she sees her time is nearly up. She has done everything and anything to stitch up a government with enough longevity to assure her immortality in Labour's Hall of Fame. In all probability, she will - in about a year - decide to stand aside knowing full well that her government which closely resembles the Edsel, will have as much future as the Hindenberg. She will then trot on to the next phase of her life leaving behind a Phil Goff/Steve Maharey bun fight over who will captain the ship out to the epicentre of the Bermuda Trangle.

Winston Peters, the taciturn political "vaudevillian"who turned a 10,362 majority into a 730 vote deficit, whose Party shed nearly half its MPs, and who tried to make a virtue out of a claim to stay on the cross-benches, has finally done what we all knew he would: he has accepted the baubles of Ministerial office. Could anybody be surprised? He hasn't just reluctantly accepted the post; he has stuck both hands out for the perks of power and filled his pockets with all the tokens, trinkets, the knives, forks and spoons of office. I can see him at the tailor’s being kitted in the sartorial splendour of deeper pockets lined with a waterproof fabric just to steal soup from the kitchens at Bellamy's!

The only surprise is that Winston is to be given the one Ministerial position that he has clearly demonstrated a decidedly negative aptitude for. When it comes to the substantive aspects on an issue he has the attention span of a meercat on a double espresso. Perhaps someone should tell him that being Foreign Affairs Minister isn't a licence to indulge in fleshly pleasures away from the spotlight of the domestic press corps, but it is an important role showcasing our country and all we stand for. No matter how you look at it, Winston will never project the image of competence that Phil Goff has demonstrated in that role. Asian nations in particular are likely to interpret Winston’s appointment as Foreign Minister as a sign of approval for his perceived anti-Asian views. It will make dealing with them seem like brain surgery performed with a chainsaw.

Peter Dunne’s ego will be sorely bruised by the 5,000 vote slash in his majority in Ohariu-Belmont; by the loss of two-thirds of support for his Party; and by the loss of five MPs. But most of all he will miffed that it is Winston, and not he, who is the leader of a centre party with the power to determine the shape of this government. Nevertheless, Dunne will be in his element as Minister of Revenue - he will relish the opportunity to have the media listen to him for a change. In a sense this will be a practice run for his next term as the new Jim Anderton, unencumbered as he will be from his two useless appendages. He will then be in a caucus of one liberated from endless soliloquies about the perils of the great moral outrages of the day. Freed from the expectations of a pretend party he will go on being an exceptional electorate MP and contribute much to future governments (be they Labour or National) as his political expediency and flexibility will allow.

[Courtesy of Louise and T. The full article is here. The 'two useless appendages' he refers to are Judy Turner and Gordon Copeland, obviously]

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