Opinion: All we are saying is give Winston a chance

Winston Peters on The Project.
Winston Peters on The Project. Photo credit: Newshub.

OPINION: The last time I wrote for Newshub it was to point out the ignorance and partisanship of the New Zealand sporting press toward the Lions.  All sorts of nasty and patronising remarks were directed at Warren Gatland.  The Lions went on to deliver a wakeup call to the ABs.

I write again for the same reasons about politics.  Why is it that so many reporters and public relations spruikers, who laughingly describe themselves as political commentators, still do not understand MMP?  

Germany, the bedrock of European stability has just had an election, and there will be six weeks of negotiations before a Government is formed. Unlike New Zealand, the Germans trust their bureaucrats to keep the country running.  

Our chattering classes resemble a group of five-year-olds failing an emotional intelligence test screaming for the chocolate fish immediately. Before the vote has even been counted there have been demands for NZ First to say eenie meenie miney moe - National.

On election night as National tried to proclaim itself the winner, it was revealing - and I mean revealing - how many people showed their true colours by going along with this act. When Peters didn't play the game and confirm National's absolute right to rule, the insults and caricatures of a clubbable demagogue began.

The most egregious example of this sort of nonsense appeared in the Herald by former National whip Michael Cox.  

After a thick layer of condescension Cox proposed the childish idea of a “grand bargain” between National and Labour to keep NZ First out.  Apparently, Cox does not realise this only happens in wartime.  No wonder he never made cabinet.

And then there was Damien Grant, who claimed this dreadful situation was all Steven Joyce's fault for not proposing a referendum to go back to FPP.  Grant should be glad the harsh conservatism he proposes for everyone else wasn't applied to him when he was sitting in a prison farm.

Let's remind people who Winston Peters really is.  When it comes to challenging the establishment there has never been anyone quite like him.  A proud Maori and Pakeha man, he walks comfortably in both worlds and can best anyone in the most powerful court in the land.  

That is why the Nats are so keen to do a deal with the Greens. They would be relative innocents compared to Peters, who can play the game better than anyone.  He is the ultimate inside outsider.

Winston Peters lost his house and most of what he owned fighting the most powerful and wealthy businesspeople in New Zealand.  The winebox enquiry revealed a sophisticated tax evasion scheme using the Cook Islands as a kind of money-laundering machine.

What really irritates the NZ political establishment about Winston Peters is that they do everything they can to kill him off and he just keeps getting back up.  

Whether it turns out to be a National or Labour/Greens Government, both will benefit from his experience and moderation.  And don't give me that rubbish about him being too difficult to work with.  The failure of the last NZ First/National Government wasn't Winston Peter's failure - it was Jenny Shipley's arrogance.  And that is another story.

Mitch Harris hosts Night Talk on RadioLIVE, Monday - Thursday nights from 8pm until midnight.