Winston asleep at the wheel

One of the worst things that could happen, after the Christchurch terror attacks, is the leader of a supposedly friendly country using the appalling event as part of his election campaign. That is what the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan did, using clips from the video of the Christchurch massacre to stir up hatred at his election rallies. It is particularly galling as Turkey has, for the last 100 years, enjoyed a special relationship with the Anzacs after Gallipoli and thousands make the pilgrimage to Turkey each year to commemorate the battle.

Scott Morrison went on the attack but Jacinda Ardern dispatched her foreign minister to Turkey to deal with the matter personally.

Let’s just say it didn’t go well. quote.

The prime minister, unimpressed with Turkey’s portrayal of New Zealand’s day of suffering, said her foreign minister would be confronting the offensive comments of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit to that country.

In Winston Peters’ own words, he was going there to “put the record straight”: it was not a New Zealander who shot and killed 50 Muslims, we did not like the president’s nasty reference to our Gallipoli grandfathers, and would Erdogan please stop playing the killer’s video to election rallies.

end quote.

Strong words, and Winston is capable of such rhetoric. Just go back through recent archives of parliamentary Question Time to find him pouring forth bile on Simon Bridges on a regular basis. quote.

He now says he believes some progress has been made as Erdogan is using a smaller portion of the clip. He had got an assurance on safety and the president had toned down the campaigning. end quote.

Sorry… Erdogan is now using a smaller portion of the clip? Well, that’s all right then… actually, no. It isn’t. How can anyone think it is okay to use ANY part of the offensive video in an election campaign… especially our minister of foreign affairs?

This is disgraceful and pathetic. Rhetoric is all very well when used for bluff and bluster at home; which Winston does tiresomely well. However, it is a different story when he is not merely insulting the leader of the opposition, but instead confronting a corrupt dictator who will do anything to stay in power. That is when strong words matter, and Winston failed miserably. quote.

Peters’ approach contrasts with the strong language  of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison against his Turkish counterpart.

He summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Australia, made it clear he would not “accept the excuses” for the president’s outburst, and included his own threat.

Australia has more clout in global politics. But the image we and the rest of the world were left with was that of our nearest neighbour stepping up and into the power vacuum created by our own weakness.

There is, of course, another image:
It is a picture of Peters asleep at the wheel of this country’s foreign affairs. At a key point in the nation’s history.

Ardern has done an admirable job of harnessing a momentum of pain and anger to lead positive change in the country’s gun laws. Her stock has risen considerably both on these shores and overseas.

Peters, meanwhile, has appeared undermined and partially silenced by his own troublesome anti-immigration commentary.

So he needed to perform and display strength in Turkey, not only on behalf of his fellow countrymen and women but also, perhaps, for the prospects of a party with immigration as a principal theme.

He failed.

Stuff. end quote.

Winston is now hamstrung. After the Christchurch shootings, he will not be able to go down the anti-immigration path again. He knows that voters are concerned about excessive migration, but he signed the UN Migration Pact. He now has no credibility whatsoever on the subject of immigration.

Winston has been found out this time. His opportunity to stand up and be noticed on the world stage has been a dismal failure.