Stepped, jumped or pushed?

August 29, 2008

Helen Clark said Winston Peters has stepped down from his ministerial positions.

The wording allows him to retain what vestige of dignity he was still clinging to, but it doesn’t really matter if he stepped, jumped or was pushed. He could not have retained his roles while under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

However, as is typical of Peters, his stepping down raises more questions including: why did he ask Helen Clark to take over his portfolios and why did she accept?

Running the country ought to keep her busy enough without trying to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Racing and Associate Senior Citizens.


Hubris Sydrome

August 29, 2008

Inquiring Mind  examines hubris syndrome:

You look upon the world as an arena in which to exercise power and find glory. Your confidence in yourself is unshakeable. You are restless, impulsive – reckless even. Detail bores you. Oh yes, and God, or history, or both is firmly on your side. No need then to listen to the little people. You are suffering from Hubris Syndrome.

and

The longer you stay in office, the longer you are cocooned by deference, the more your sense of omnipotence grows, the greater the chance you will contract HS. That’s bad because HS leads almost inevitably to flawed reasoning and a blindness to alternatives – or ”hubristic incompetence” as Lord Owen describes it. But it isn’t just about position; there must be some kind of predisposition in sufferers.

The OED defines hubris as insolent or overweening pride leading to nemisis. It sounds very like Ozymandias Syndrome.


NZ First still for ETS

August 29, 2008

New Zealadn First will still support legislation to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Government is reliant on NZ First’s backing to pass legislation that will put an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in place. The bill passed its second reading last night, but must go through its committee stage and third reading next week.

But Mr Peters today said his party’s support for the bill was rock solid, irrespective of his own fate.

“Of course we would never undermine a piece of legislation so important as this because of something that is happening in politics because of untoward circumstances and people in New Zealand,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“That’s not the way we behave.”

Unfortunately I think this is one time when he said what he meant and meant what he said. The only hope lies in that what he said he meant today may not be the same as what he means next week when the vote is taken.


Ozyymandias

August 29, 2008

I had something else in mind for this Friday’s poem but the events of the last couple of days meant I couldn’t go past Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

It is one of the poems in Dear To Me, 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems and published by Random House as an Anmesty International fundraiser.

By serendipitous conincidence it was the choice of Sir Robert Jones who said:

The reason why I like it is that it sums up so well the misplaced grandiose egotism of rulers, be they elected prime minsiters or tyrants, and their craving for permanent legacy after their inevitable demise.

It is an illogical aspiration: once dead, however, they’re viewed is utterly irrelevant to them as they’ll never know. That reality doesn’t stop retired prime minsiters wasting their remaining years writing memoirs which they hope will preserve their place and perceived importance in history.

Ozymandias demonstrates the futility of such aspirations and the inevitable denouement for us all of reduction to dust.

                Ozymandias

 I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two cast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shater’d visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,

The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

        Percy Bysshe Shelley –


Cannon to the left

August 29, 2008

Keeping Stock  notes that criticism of Helen Clark’s handling of WInston Peters spans the political divide:

When even left-wing commentators like Jafapete are critical of the PM after yesterday’s revelations, questions must be asked of her, and the issue must be kept in the public consciousness.

It’s not just Jafapete.  Bomber over at Tumeke! says:

I think John Key might have just won the election. . . If she doesn’t pull something really good out, I think Winston’s demise could well infect Helen.

The cannons are now aimed from left, right and centre with both Clark and Peters in thier sights and if they remember the Charge of the Light Brigade they’ll get no comfort from this:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,


EU ETS to be watered down

August 29, 2008

I wonder if anyone in the parties supporting the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation currently in parliament has noticed this:

Interestingly, there are reports from Europe today that the European Union’s proposed response to global warming looks set to be watered-down.

EU chiefs want to protect European industry from overseas competitors.

It’s still not too late for them to do the right thing and send the legislation back to a select committee where it can have the measured consideration it needs.


On the verge of a trifecta

August 29, 2008

Dene Mackenzie says that Winston Peters is on the verge of an unhappy trifecta:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters last night proved the old adage of be careful what you wish for, when the Serious Fraud Office took him at his word.

After Mr Peters dared the SFO to either lay charges against him or shut up and go away, SFO director Grant Liddell announced he would conduct an investigation into donations made to NZ First.

He would particularly investigate allegations that funds donated to the party by Sir Robert Jones and Vela family interests did not reach their intended destination.

Mr Peters had accused the SFO of “creeping around back doors”, dropping hints and providing media speculation but not finding any evidence of wrongdoing or illegality on his part.

“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and, if they don’t turn up, they can go away for ever,” he said.

Well, the SFO did turn up and Mr Peters now faces another major challenge to his political career.

There have already been plenty.

He has been sacked by two previous prime ministers and now, as Minister of Racing, he must know he is facing the trifecta.

Mr Peters will this morning meet Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is under increasing pressure to sack her minister or at least stand him down while the investigation is under way.

Other ministers have been “gone by lunchtime” for lesser offences.

Had any other MPs faced the allegations Peters does he’d have been the first to call for their resignations. He could have stepped down with dignity intact until the privileges committee and SFO investigations are completed. But because he refused to jump he’ll have to be pushed.

He will then be on familiar territory as the martyred outsider. He will still have some supporters who think he’s hard done by, but it’s the SFO not the court of public opinion which will decide his fate.


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