Until recently I would have said Helen Clark was a very clever political strategist. But her handling of Winston Peters and the donation debacle has proved me wrong.
By sticking with him she’s losing ground on two fronts by providing ammunition for her opponents and turning off her supporters.
She won’t care what people like me think because I’m never going to vote for her. But she ought to care about people like Deborah at In A Strange Land.
Her post is worth reading in full but I’ll just copy the intro and conclusion:
Forgive me, Helen. Although I like to characterise myself as a swinging voter, in practice, every election I have voted in, except my very first, I have voted Labour, even if at times through gritted teeth.
But if you want to campaign on trust, then you need to rule out working with Winston Peters. . .
. . . But until Labour explicitly rules out working with Winston Peters and New Zealand First, I will be looking for some other party to give my vote to. Until then, I can’t trust you to do the right thing.
Update: I’ve been thinking more about this over lunch, and I think that what is upsetting me so much is that Labour is inviting me to be complicit in their “courageous corruption.” We all know pollies lie, but rarely is it so obvious, and so self-serving, as has been in the case of Winston Peters. It all stinks to high heaven, and then some. By not ruling him out, and still asking me to vote for them, at best Helen Clark and Labour are asking me to block my nose, to pretend that the stench isn’t there. But more realistically, they are asking me to buy the stink in order to have a Labour government. “That’s just what it costs,” they are telling me.
Quite simply, I refuse to pay the price. I will not collude in returning Winston Peters to influence in any government.
So why is she doing it?
Has she lost her strategic nous; doesn’t she realise how far she’s stretching the loyalty of her supporters; is she so desperate for power she’s prepared to overlook anything Peters has done?
Or does she simply not think that integrity matters?