John Armstrong has a run-down of the state of play in the seemingly intermidable Winston Peters affair. Armstrong is arguably the most perceptive of all the gallery pundits, but claims like this always irritate me:
The overwhelming public reaction is that it is all just a little too convenient – that again it is one rule for Peters and another for everyone else.
Armstrong is a very sharp guy and he might even be right about what the public thinks – but frankly he has no way of knowing that. A recent Dom-Post poll showed 48% of voters want Clark to sack Peters. This is a large but hardly ‘overwhelming’ number (I would have thought most of the country wanted him sacked even before the funding scandal).
When reporters say ‘the public thinks’ without referencing a poll or some other form of research what they are generally saying is ‘I think’.
This trivial detail aside the rest of Armstrong’s column is well worth reading. He points out that there is probably nothing illegal about Mr Peter’s highly unusual arrangement with his lawyer, QC Brian Henry in which Henry performs pro bono legal work for Peter’s and then undertakes his own private fundraising efforts to reimburse himself.
What is interesting about this arrangement is that Brian Henry is a scion of the famous Henry family who, along with the Fletcher’s and the Todd’s, were one of the wealthiest and most influential industrial dynasty’s in New Zealand history. Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the family.
So this is yet another case of Peter’s benefiting from the largese of the super-rich, a group he still claims to be waging a one man war against. There’s no way of knowing the value of Mr Henry’s legal services to Peters over the years but it seems reasonable to assume the amount runs to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Winston Peter’s claims to have been the prey of a conspiracy of secretive, elite businessmen but with the New Zealand First leader recieving clandestine donations from Owen Glenn, the Vela family and Sir Robert Jones and free legal services from an industralist heir it looks more and more as if Mr Peters is a member of a covert super-rich conspiracy rather than a victim.
Certainly that’s how the general public see things.