Merchants of dirt
Mike Williams, Labour Party President, went to Australia to dig stuff up on some 1980s dirt on John Key and dump it - dump it now when Owen Glenn pops up again. Puh-leeze, brother! Williams has done this out of his own pocket according to the PM - his boss. That pocket is fattened by his numerous appointments to government boards (made by her and her ministers), so in a way the government is helping to foot the bill.
And there was a similar moment of incredulity upon hearing the spin on yesterday's TV coverage of the supposed Winston-Glenn saga. The gloating Guyon Espiner on TV One said Winston "aggressively pushed" for Glenn to be made consul, while TV3's Duncan Garner said he "personally pushed" for it. I've heard just as much from other media. What I haven't seen is convincing evidence that he "pushed" very hard at all. Where is the gotcha quotes to back it up?
The important thing here is that the PM and Mike Williams are most likely up to their eyeballs in the Owen Glenn drama.
What Winston did in all probability - and where the PM's supposed countermanding of any Glenn appointment sits I don't quite know - is this:
Glenn asked him about being honorary consul to Monaco (getting a diplomatic passport and credentials) and Winston goes "I'll see what I can do - I'll put your name forward", and Glenn asks about how to make a donation to Winston/First, and then he talks him up to a hundred grand and says "I'll do everything I can".
Winston tells his Ministry to see whether we need a consul in Monaco and if we do whether Glenn would be appropriate.
MFAT drag their feet because it's baublage for the bauble-meister and just another petty political indulgence and they are unimpressed and sit on it. Winston might have sent another missive asking them what the hold-up is. I don't think this aspect of the slush fund allegations needs to be fully investigated because I suspect their really isn't anything in it beyond Winston having to placate Glenn because his Ministry won't approve it.
Winston knows how the game is played - he's kept his side of the deal by putting Glenn's name forward - but if it gets rejected then too bad, he did what he could. That was the deal. But some gentlemen's lobbying would not be against Winston's code. To do more however would be unprofessional - it would compromise his integrity. But to keep Glenn sweet he keeps telling him that the decision hasn't been made yet and that the process is going on etc - which is just to shut him up - it just means that he hasn't said no yet. At this point the PM and Mike Williams may have realised that Glenn was too much of a loose unit and she told MFAT to bin anything about Glenn. Who knows exactly how it went down or when. At some point the PM and Williams decided to start the quarterisation and quarantining process - which led to the awkward and undignified spectacle of the PM physically distancing herself in public at the opening of his building.
This is very much how Williams managed the Stephen Ching affair at the last election: Williams would not budge on getting Ching off the list even though there were multiple allegations of corruption outstanding - that's how desperate Williams is for Labour donations. The idea is to string the donors along, draw as much money out of them as humanly possible with all sorts of hints and winks and nods and even promises and agreements... and then burn them off at the last minute. If Glenn had not been such a "character" he would probably have his passport to the diplomatic cocktail party circuit and be quietly enjoying it. But the one thing he lacked - for all his millions - was fame and influence. Happy now?
[UPDATE: 5:50PM Friday 31/10/2008:
And this from Guyon's brother Colin in the Press:
But email correspondence between officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows Peters pushed the case hard and gave his department a hurry-up for not moving fast enough on the appointment, asking New Zealand's Ambassador in France to meet urgently with Glenn in Monaco about the role.
The correspondence, during 2007, came a year after Glenn had donated $100,000 towards Peters' legal expenses in the Tauranga electoral petition, which Peters denied knowing about until July this year.
A parliamentary privileges committee inquiry censured him last month for not declaring the donation.
Clark said last night there was no issue because no appointment had been made.
She revealed she had blocked the proposal because of the possibility that money was involved.
"For my part, once I had heard there had been a donation I didn't think it would be appropriate," she said.
A spokesman confirmed Clark had formally axed the proposal once Glenn told her when they met in February that he had donated money to Peters.
Last night Peters turned on the media, claiming the documents were "as stale as Colin Meads's football boots".
He said he had "inherited" Glenn's interest in the role from someone else. "It didn't start with me."