Winston: In contempt!
He's about to get his wrist slapped. I've been watching the question time and the censure debate in parliament. The Labour party makes one's stomach turn. Their protection of Winston in the face of the obvious evidence is shameful. The PM hissed and screeched that John Key misled the media over his Tranzrail shareholding. She repeated the allegation that he bought shares in his own name - made a quick buck and then sold them - something Key denies and his sharebrokers in a letter I posted earlier today also deny. (We need some solid evidence).
Key has been on Close Up and Campbell Live tonight to confess. To "detox" in his vernacular. To be up front - as opposed to Winston's obfuscations. He needed to recover from not looking forthcoming and open and transparent when confronted by Fran Mold yesterday. He looked slippery in that ambush situation. His natural reaction was still to hedge - for a currency trader perhaps a normal inclination. But at the crunch point John Campbell interrupted: Key was denying he had traded in his own name - but he was cut off, so it wasn't 100% clear what allegation of the PM he was rebutting. And Campbell diverted off the issue. Then, less than 5 minutes later on the other channel he was telling the news walrus that he may have - maybe - that wasn't clear either. This was the fault of the interviewer - not Key - I was left not knowing what the position is. Key said he didn't personally gain from it. Fine, but that's not the point. Did he make any trades in Tranzrail in his own name when he was an MP? That is the question they did not ask properly and was therefore not answered satisfactorily either.]
This is the same PM who said of Winston that she needed to let a process unfold and would not rush to judgement. This being the same PM who rushed to judge the Privileges Committee as being unfair - even though Cullen today said the way it was run and chaired by Simon Powers was fair. This was the PM spitting out that National was running a "dirty, filthy, unclean campaign". She was just sickening. At her most unpleasant.
The Maori party's representative on the committee, Te Ururoa Flavell, and Peter Dunne also, seemed genuinely saddened to have to vote in favour of censure. Flavell said it boiled down to "expectation that koha [be] declared - it wasn't - that's contempt." Dunne said there was a lot of "extraneous noise" on the issue but he made his judgement "with a heavy heart." Their commitments to open-mindedness seemed every bit as convincing as the conclusions they drew that Winston knew full well what was going on and that he should have declared his "gift". Both MPs mentioned that triumphalism was an inappropriate reaction. It is in the court of public opinion that he faces his ultimate punishment - it was always going to be that way.
Hide was at it. He tried to ask a question to the PM about Winston and five times Winston interrupted him with points of order to stop him speaking about the operations of the Spencer trust. Eventually the PM did answer: "No, I haven't seen the diagram." So, she didn't bother to read the whole report - or maybe any of the report. Unbelievable.
Cullen on the other was running a rebuttal for Winston. The Labour MPs he lead on that committee were still running defence - multiple lines of defence that lacked all credibility. It was naked politics and a tawdry day in the history of the Labour Party. Embracing its ideological foe publicly had Cullen clawing at his chest in dirtiness at one point. Disgusting.
Key was jovial and on form despite the virulent attacks from the PM and Cullen over his Tranzrail dealings.
During Russel Norman's speech during which he was scrupulously fair to him, Winston sat across the isle and barracked the whole time. This was within minutes of him rising to call the Speaker to protect the PM from National barracking. What a hypocrite - what an arsehole. Helen's little helper has a licence to act with impunity even after he's been found in contempt of parliament by the committee. The Greens, the diligent, subservient Greens, wouldn't get the time of day.
The NZ First team were in full battle armour this afternoon, wheeling out straw men and hurling irrelevant asides, but it was the rogue knight doing all the stomping. Maybe in a sound bite it would seem spirited, but it was pallid and pathetic when viewed for any length of time. Echoing Nixon at one point Winston claimed he "didn't make one cent" out of the donations. That's not the point - it's what your donors make out of you that counts. And when you don't even say who they are - when you know who they are because you solicited money from them - it completely undermines the transparency that provides public confidence in the system.