Who will rid me of this troublesome Foreign Affairs Minister?
Peters hanging on by a thread
Prime Minister Helen Clark faces mounting pressure to head to the polls early as Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters' political survival hangs by a thread. Miss Clark resisted calls yesterday to sack Mr Peters after seeking his word during a phone conversation that he had not misled her, after claims emerged that he solicited a $100,000 donation from billionaire Owen Glenn. But her hand could yet be forced by further revelations from Mr Glenn, who seems likely to be asked by Parliament's privileges committee to give further evidence next week, after Mr Peters made it clear that it came down to his word against Mr Glenn's. The last hurdle to an earlier election fell yesterday, when NZ First pledged its support for the Government's emissions trading scheme, meaning the legislation could be passed as early as next week. Miss Clark appeared determined to stand by Mr Peters yesterday, saying she would await the outcome of the privileges hearing before making her next move. But she looked increasingly isolated last night after National leader John Key cut Mr Peters loose and all but ruled out the NZ First leader from any future National cabinet. Mr Key said he would demand more credible answers than those given by Mr Peters so far, and questioned his integrity. He said Miss Clark should stand Mr Peters down. Mr Peters dismissed the threat as an empty one and said Mr Key had given himself "wriggle room". But Mr Key said Mr Glenn had "absolutely no motivation to lie". National's move followed an explosive written statement to the committee yesterday, in which Mr Glenn challenged accounts by Mr Peters and his lawyer, Brian Henry, of how his $100,000 donation came about. He said he was approached by Mr Peters personally in Sydney and agreed to help "in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party in its relationship with Mr Peters". "Mr Peters subsequently met me socially at the Karaka yearling sales, I believe in early 2006. He thanked me for my assistance." The privileges committee has been inquiring into what Mr Peters knew about the donation, after the NZ First leader repeatedly denied any knowledge of the money being paid into his legal fund till July 18, nearly three years later, after being informed of it by Mr Henry. In a rare move, the committee met behind closed doors and agreed to publish Mr Glenn's statement after he requested that it not be treated as secret. Mr Henry told the privileges committee last week that he made the request to Mr Glenn for money in a telephone call. But Mr Glenn's statement said he did not know Mr Henry and did not recall having any discussion or communication with him "other than to receive remittance details".
I just can’t see Peters surviving this, all he’s got is ‘trust me, not Owen Glenn’, well why would Owen Glenn lie, he has clearly contradicted Winston and Winston’s lawyer, Mr Henry. If Helen holds on till next week when he votes for the ETS and then dumps him it makes the principled stand against Peters corruption null and void, but inaction makes her look like she’s holding on while the criticism would mount to crescendo levels, then again she doesn’t want to look panicked as well. Key’s move to rule Winston out is genius, he is showing real political nous and it’s now up to Helen to be able to steer her out of this. Winston has signed his own execution warrant, how Helen deals with that will determine her own survival.