Friday, April 26, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 26/4/24

Luxon’s demoted ministers might take comfort from the British politician who bounced back after the Gallipoli debacle

Two speeches delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters at Anzac Day ceremonies in Turkey are the only new posts on the government’s official website since the PM announced his Cabinet shake-up.

In one of the speeches, Peters stated the obvious: we live in a troubled world.

We have emerged from a global pandemic a more divided world. Regional instabilities and the chaos they create threaten the security of too many.

So we must all do more. Demand more. And deliver more.

Peters quoted another Winston, Britain’s World War II leader, Winston Churchill.

Churchill is remembered as an inspirational statesman, writer, orator and leader who led Britain to victory against Hitler.

But some 25 years earlier, Churchill spearheaded a World War I military debacle — Gallipoli.

Churchill’s prospects – it seemed – were ended when he was demoted from his job as First Lord of the Admiralty as a consequence.

But he bounced back to serve as Conservative Prime Minister twice – from 1940 to 1945 (before being defeated in the 1945 general election by the Labour leader, Clement Attlee) and from 1951 to 1955.

This recovery from a career setback might be comforting to the two ministers who were demoted by Christopher Luxon last week.

As First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill believed he had the right strategy for breaking the impasse in the trenches on the Western Front in 1915 — a second front.

He proposed sending his naval fleet through the needle of the Dardanelles, the narrow 38-mile strait that severed Europe and Asia in northwest Turkey, to seize Constantinople and gain control of the strategic waterways linking the Black Sea in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

Churchill believed the invasion would give the British a clear sea route to their ally Russia and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

The first step would be an attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the northern side of the Dardanelles.

Churchill knew this would be risky:

“The price to be paid in taking Gallipoli would no doubt be heavy,” he wrote, “but there would be no more war with Turkey. A good army of 50,000 and sea-power—that is the end of the Turkish menace.”

The British War Office would not send as many troops as he wanted, but Churchill sent in the fleet anyway.

You can learn more in an article by Christopher Klein on

In the upshot:

The ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign lasted nine months before the evacuation of the last Allied troops in January 1916. Each side sustained 250,000 casualties with 46,000 Allied troops and 65,000 Turkish troops dead.

The invasion had been scuttled by incompetence and hesitancy by military commanders, but, fairly or unfairly, Churchill was the scapegoat. The Gallipoli disaster threw the government into crisis, and the Liberal prime minister was forced to bring the opposition Conservatives into a coalition government. As part of their agreement to share power, the Conservatives wanted Churchill, a renegade politician who had bolted their party a decade earlier, out from the Admiralty. In May 1915, Churchill was demoted to an obscure cabinet post.

In November 1915, Churchill resigned from the government, picked up a gun and headed to the front lines in France as an infantry officer with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

After several brushes with death, he returned to politics in 1917 as the munitions minister in a new coalition government headed by Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

Churchill remained haunted by Gallipoli for decades, Klein writes.

On taking office as Prime Minister, he wrote, “All my past life had been a preparation for this hour and for this trial.” That included Gallipoli.

In his speech yesterday, Peters made only a brief reference to Churchill:

It took Winston Churchill nearly forty years after the fighting waged across this peninsula, and a second World War, to learn from Gallipoli’s experience to declare, “to jaw jaw is better than war war.”

It was true then. It is true now. Never has diplomacy been more needed to de-escalate conflicts and ease tensions. That is our lesson and resolve when leaving Gallipoli today.

You will create your own memories and draw your own lessons from being here. But we must all come together, as people and as nations, to do more to honour those who paid with their lives.

We must protect and care for our young.

We must reject and resist those who seek to conquer and control.

We must always seek the path of peace.

Then, and only then, will the men buried here not have died in vain.

Latest from the Beehive


25 APRIL 2024

It is an honour to return once again to this site which, as the resting place for so many of our war-dead, has become a sacred place for generations of New Zealanders.


Mai ia tawhiti pamamao, te moana nui a Kiwa, kua tae whakaiti mai matou, ki to koutou papa whenua. No koutou te tapuwae, no matou te tapuwae, kua honoa pumautia.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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