I really do want to use my Daily Blog guest-blogger status to do more to amuse, enthuse, entertain and inflame the political classes of this country than just writing endless responses to InternetMANA affiliated personalities who seem to think it's their sacred duty to try and hammer nails into the electoral coffin of New Zealand First.
But, as the saying goes ... they keep sticking 'em up; so I keep knocking 'em down.
Most recently, this featured John Minto (whom I ordinarily have considerable time for, because teachers in politics are awesome - Winston's also one, as it happens :P ) penning a turgid piece that basically boiled down to "accuse Winston of suffering from liver disease", while also making polemical guesses about NZF's future leadership transition and Winston's future career prospects post-2017.
I hardly need to state that regardless of whether or not any or all of Winston's internal organs are up to 100% functionality (and seriously, from where I'm sitting, the man's constitution is damn near superhuman) ... by engaging in baseless speculation that there *is* something wrong with his physique, for political gain, Minto veers dangerously into territory more usually occupied by a certain greasy cetacean. It's not simply the use of an ailment for point-scoring, but the way that Minto uses the allegation of said ailment to try and set a time-limit on Winston's role in politics that makes this pretty unprincipled reading :(
But, to the substance of the allegations themselves. (Either of alcohol, or cheese, apparently)
Leaving aside Minto's singularly impressive ability to engage in complex hepatology from the other end of his internet connection; Minto's contention is simply this - that you should vote for him and his party rather than New Zealand First, on grounds that Minto wants you to believe Winston will side with whichever of Labour or National will give him a nice easy exit from politics.
Minto's welcome to make that contention (although preferably without the digs about the functionality of one of Winston's vital organs) ... but all it does for me is prove what I've been saying all along - that InternetMANA and New Zealand First actually share overlapping segments of voters, the electorate, and activist-base (coz protest vote and awesome left-wing economic policy).
And that some MANA affiliated people are prepared to say some quite surprising things in pursuit of those voters and activists. If they're not accusing our Leader of having a liver affliction, they're running about madly trying to claim that a vote for a party which WILL NOT work with any government that refuses to #Renationalize, or which continues to allow our farmland and heritage to be hoicked off to rich foreign buyers ... is somehow a vote for National. Does National look like a party that intends on renationalizing the assets it's stolen, or blocking the sale of farmland to its rich foreign mates to you?
More to the point, this idea that Winston can somehow be bought off with an ambassadorship in a manner reminiscent of Shane Jones just fundamentally misunderstands the man and what he's about.
The Nats *already tried* doing that in the run-up to the 2011 election. Murray McCully apparently arranged several approaches to Winston with a goal of getting him out of New Zealand and out of our politics through the plum red carpet of a diplomatic posting. Winston didn't do the deal, on either occasion - because he's about putting the national interest rather than National's interests first - so I'm not entirely sure why Minto thinks Winston would be mad keen on a bigger and more public deal secured as part of the obvious cost of propping up an unpopular and fading right-wing government.
More to the point, it's widely thought that Winston is an inveterate politician (being in possession of somewhere in the vicinity of forty years' hard campaign experience) in search of a legacy to bequeath the nation and cement his place as one of our most enduring politicians. The Gold Card was an admirable start on this project, and there's something seriously honourable in policy designed to ease and improve the lives of our elderly.
But there is *always* room to do more, particularly when one is intending to leave one's enduring mark on the nation. I remember going through high-school and taking Economics, there was much buzz about The Cullen Fund. Winston's proposal for a nationalist #KiwiFund equivalent, replete with Norwegian State Pension Fund-style requirement that the fund be used to invest in Kiwi business, #Renationalize Kiwi assets, and buy up Kiwi farmland and forestry preserve so that it doesn't fall into overseas hands ... well, just personally from where I'm sitting, a Winston-Fund that simultaneously and singlehandedly helps to ensure the affordability of *my* generation retiring at 65 *and* bringing assets and farmland back into Kiwi and state hands ... that sounds like a helluva better legacy than being remembered as "the man who sold his party down the river for a fancy apartment in London".
If Minto is genuinely serious about his "pick" that Winston will be attempting to negotiate an "exit from politics" with David Cunliffe; then all I can suggest is that this "exit", should it occur, will be accompanied by serious efforts at embedding a long-term nationalist ethos into parts of our public economy.
You know, to do the man's work after he's no longer directly in the fray to do so.
This won't make too much of a difference to guys like Minto - they're hungry to be in Parliament, and quite prepared to play up the alleged physical frailties of an older gentleman (try as I might, I just *can't* bring myself to describe him as an "old man", particularly given he's about the same age as my father - by the way, Happy Birthday Rev. Rolinson) to try and make that happen.
But to you characters out there in the comment's section and further afield across the political internet ... I won't bore you with why I believe NZ First would find it untenably difficult to work with National, or why the Cross-Benches represent a sensible and principled position for us to take post-September 20th.
You've heard me make those cases and sing those songs many, many times before.
Instead, all I'll say is this.
Minto can write what he likes about Winston being "all about Winston"; but the facts are that New Zealand First has restored to New Zealand ownership more assets, more public utilities, and more vital national infrastructure during our career than InternetMANA has. We have raised the minimum wage more often and by larger amounts. We have secured free doctor's visits for under-6's, excoriated Peter Dunne, exerted such a compelling influence on this election that *both* major parties are altering their policy agendas accordingly ... and we are really only just getting started.
As the man himself says about NZ First after Winston - "Of course there is life after Winston Peters. The Party will grow into a tower of strength and will help you and your children to live the New Zealand dream".
And with policies like #KiwiFund and asset #Renationalization, we'll be working to help build a more prosperous and self-determined New Zealand for years to come.
Like it says on the walls of Scotland's Parliament and in the hearts of NZF whanau everywhere ... "Work as if you lived, in the early days of a better Nation".
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