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Winston, down but not out – taking a breather


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The Contender - Slane - The Listener

The Contender - Slane - The Listener

Somehow this cartoon seemed very apt to accompany Tracy Watkins interesting opinion piece in the Dominion Post on Monday 25 August.

Ms Watkins entitled her essay – Legend of the lone crusader against forces of treachery. Indeed it is clear that Winston Peters sees himself as the crusader battling valiantly against the odds. Yet to this observer this is a flawed image. It has been a flawed image for the 20 years Adam has been in NZ.

Winston is no valiant caped crusader, whatever his self image.

Tracy Watkins paints a picture which identifies:-

something of the strange, conspiratorial world the NZ First leader believes himself to dwell in.

It is a world in which Mr Peters apparently stands – alone and alert – against the forces of treachery, a world filled with foes in business, the media and government, a world in which he alone shines a light on the venal and corrupt.

This clearly demonstrates the fantasy which Mr Peters lives.

As Tracy Watkins comments in respect of Brian Henry’s statement to the Privileges Committee :-

Mr Henry’s evidence could have come straight from the pages of a political thriller – an attempted kidnapping coinciding with NZ First’s campaign launch (apparently explaining why the party seemed in disarray at the time), the appearance of a shadowy National Party fundraiser to exert some last-minute pressure to make sure Mr Peters was sacked from National in 1991, inducements offered to Mr Henry’s clients to drop him as their lawyer, and wave after wave of legal battles designed to cripple the man who stood ready to bring down a plague on all their houses. It was the Winston- against-the-world legend writ large, in other words, with his lawyer not too far behind.

Adam hesitates to accept the term evidence, as there appears to have been no real testing or verification of the statements made.

The claims which henry makes and which Watkins draws to our attention seem to have come from a Robert Ludlum potboiler with Winston the last man standing and doughty saviour of the free world.

Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition - Goya

Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition - Goya

Yet Peters made wild and silly claims that the proceedings were akin to the Spanish Inquisition, though Adam was not aware of the rack being used, nor torture applied unless it was the blatant rudeness and arrogance of Peters himself. The picture above has more reality re the Inquistion than the committee room Peters was in.

Ms Watkins notes that Peters version of the hearing is totally at odds with reality:-

Which is why we were treated last week to Mr Peters’ comparisons of last Monday’s privileges committee hearing to the Salem witch trials and Spanish Inquisition. Of course they were nothing of the sort – unless the victims of the trials and Inquisition spent their time lounging comfortably in their chairs, insulting their persecutors and arguing over the top of those who popped up with pertinent questions.

But it suits Mr Peters’ purpose to pre- empt any finding against him by painting the committee as a platform for persecution by his opponents; just one more chapter in the legend of Winston Peters against the establishment.

That his version of the privileges hearing bears little resemblance to the actual event is neither here nor there; he is counting on telling his version of the story enough that it will become a fact as far as his supporters are concerned – in much the same way that it has become a fact among NZ First’s loyal hard core that he has long been the victim of a vast conspiracy by big business and the media.

Unfortunately Ms Watkins is correct. The Peters cult is such that reality no longer impinges on their world. The big questions is whether these cultists are sufficient to bring Winston and his fellow travellers back into Parliament.

Peters is undoubtedly a subscriber to, and exemplar of the technique of the Big Lie as practised by Goebbels and many others:-

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Read the above and think about Winston Peters basic technique. In addition, Peters believes and his support base proves it – that you can:-

‘fool some of the people all of the time’

Watkins comments also on Peters entering the blogosphere, though Adam suspects that it is an acolyte doing the actual posting.

Applying the age-old logic that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, he has launched his own blog, even as he simultaneously rails against the “blogosphere” as the latest incarnation of the grand conspiracy against him.

The wonder is that it has taken him so long to cotton on to a tool that, by enabling him to talk over the top of the mainstream media directly to his supporters, seems so ideally tailored to his soapbox style. Even more remarkably, the comment so far posted on his blog has been somewhat restrained; the speeches that he has been delivering at manic pace to his traditional Grey Power audience have been of more fiery stuff.

Those speeches neatly pull together NZ First’s promise to increase pensions, stand against foreign ownership and protect the elderly from future finance company crashes with government guarantees into a package that incorporates his enemies’ plans to bring him down.

His political survival depends on selling the package to the constituency he is desperately reaching out to.

It remains to be seen what eventuates, but Adam has the feeling that the Bromhead cartoon in the SST may well sum up Winston’s true thoughts:-

Bromhead - SST - 24 August 2008

Bromhead - SST - 24 August 2008

  1. 26/08/2008 11:42

    The concern is that he’s not actually alone and he only needs 5% of voters to keep believing him to put him and his party back in parliament and potentially in government:



  1. Lone crusader’s not alone « Homepaddock

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