Friday, April 12, 2024

JC: Past PMs Should Butt Out

There are too many past Prime Ministers who, having left office, continue to interfere in the politics of the present time. Current Prime Ministers who have been elected to do a job do not need constant input from their predecessors. Their jobs are hard enough without past ‘know it alls’ putting in their tuppence worth. I might agree with their utterances but the world continues to change and evolve and what might have been a suitable decision in their day is not necessarily the case now.

What got me thinking on this topic was an article by Fran O’Sullivan in the Weekend Herald. Her headline was ‘Ghosts of PMs past haunting Luxon’. Fran says these “formers” are seen by the incumbent Cabinet Ministers as having an outsize influence on public debate. I guess none more so than Winston Peters and Shane Jones. Those two have been around a lot longer than some of the PMs’ voices from the past. They would not take kindly to being lectured by them.

This phenomenon is not confined to New Zealand. There are examples elsewhere: Tony Blair in the UK, Paul Keating in Australia, (as Fran mentioned in her article), and Barack Obama (who is widely suspected of running the Biden administration in the US). Only recently Hillary Clinton admitted she speaks to the White House on a daily basis.
These ex-politicians are more of a hindrance than a help except perhaps in the case of the US, where Biden appears to need all the help he can get.

Coming back to home, Fran cites John Key, Jim Bolger and Helen Clark as examples of those giving advice despite having left the corridors of power. The reason for doing so are intriguing. Is it an unquenchable thirst to remain in some way relevant or is it just that they think their opinion still counts when certain issues are being discussed? Whatever the reason, it is not helpful to the incumbent Prime Minister and is probably irritating.

Fran mentions Key blasting the Ardern Government for running a “hermit kingdom” closing New Zealand off to the world for far too long. Jim Bolger slammed our political leaders for failing to meet with the protesters who took over Parliament’s lawn as they railed against the Covid mandates. Of course, both were right. Then we get to Helen Clark. Both she and Jim Bolger have been rattling their cages for far too long, They are both well past their use-by date. Key, being somewhat younger, could be viewed slightly differently but the same principle should apply: butt out.

The thrust of Fran’s article was to do with Luxon drawing us back into our traditional defence alliances with Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Mark my words, this will not be driven by Luxon, although he might give tacit approval; this will be driven by Winston Peters. He, as Foreign Minister, along with Judith Collins as Defence Minister will be pushing this along. I imagine these two will get along very well. Here we have two people known to not mince words and having very definite ideas on where this country should position itself in today’s world.

Fran was writing about our potential for joining AUKUS Pillar 2 vis-a-vis the resultant possible consequences for our trading relationship with China. Enter Helen Clark, stage left. She, along with Don Brash, is of the opinion that “we want no part of AUKUS, or of any other alliance designed to make an enemy of our largest trading partner” (that being China). That coming from Clark I can understand but Brash’s rationale in this area continues to mystify me. I cannot for the life of me come to terms with his reasoning. I would like to know if Key agrees.

If we are dependent on China to such a degree that it determines how we should design our foreign policy then we are in big trouble. We might be just a pimple at the bottom of the world but we will look even more so if we allow ourselves to be controlled by a foreign Goliath. The left bang on about having an independent foreign policy, but it’s not independent if you’re implementing it at the behest of a foreign power. Should a third world war eventuate, which some experts with relevant knowledge say is inevitable, rest assured China won’t be on our side.

I have just read an article from Reuters about Russia and China’s intention to develop deeper security cooperation with regard to Eurasia. The Foreign Ministers of both countries agree NATO should not extend its hand to our common homeland. This is a very concerning development, particularly in regard to the war in Ukraine. Is New Zealand going to voice an opinion on this? In the light of Fran’s article, probably not; we won’t want to damage our relationship with China.

Fran makes the point that it was Bolger’s forward-leaning strategy for New Zealand to orient itself to the massive Asian growth market. Clark then took up the initiative and Key built on her legacy. Good on them. But this is 2024 and the coalition Government led by Christopher Luxon is making the decisions. They were given the ball by the voters to make the play and they don’t need sniping from the sidelines. Clark has also railed against the government’s support for the US missile strikes in Yemen.

It’s nothing to do with her. The lady should sod off and crawl back into whatever UN hole she currently occupies. We have to be thankful we now have a Minister of Foreign Affairs, suitably dressed and devoid of facial decoration, who will be taken seriously on the world stage. For all that, Fran says our foreign and defence manoeuvres cut across our relationship with China. If a global conflict does break out, our relationship with China will count for naught. It will be down the gurgler. And in a war, I know whose side I’d rather be on.

JC is a right-wing crusader. Reached an age that embodies the dictum only the good die young. This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Robert Arthur said...

Nonetheless on matters maori I wish Helen Clark could have influenced John Key. She seems one of the few who had/have maori sussed.