There’s an anecdote from the Second World War – I think it comes from either Hugh Trevor-Roper or A J P Taylor – in which one of Hitler’s Generals (Guderian?) returns from his command on the rapidly deteriorating Russian front furious at the catastrophic decisions the Fuhrer has made and his general mis-conduct of the war. The highly decorated veteran charges into the Reichskanzlei (this was pre-July plot) ready to give this jumped up little Austrian corporal the dressing down of a lifetime. He bullies his way past the numerous party flunkies and storms into the office of the Fuhrer. The door is closed, a few minutes pass and then the general emerges, beaming with confidence. ‘It’s all going to be alright,’ he tells his aide-de-camp. ‘We will triumph! The Fuhrer has given me his personal assurance!’
Something similar happened in New Zealand yesterday; Winston Peters spent the entire day breathing fire and bellowing smoke and righteous fury while delivering deranged speeches which he no doubt convinced himself were Churchillian. He would NOT step down! He would take on all-comers! There was a plot and a conspiracy and HE would overcome!
Then he spoke briefly with Helen Clark who quickly emerged to announce that Peters would be standing down and would continue to support her government, he would happily cooperate with the Serious Fraud Office and was currently occupied playing with a ball of wool.
What could she have said? We will probably never know. The PM has apparently assured Peters that he can have his portfolio’s back as soon as the SFO probe winds up; Peters is deluded enough to think that will only be a few days (I’m guessing his current plan is to yell and scream threats at the auditors and they will be so impressed by this that they will just drop the case) while Clark knows that the fraud investigation is likely to become increasingly murky and complex and will probably drag on for years, as Mr Peter’s court cases are like to do.
Whatever transpired last night, Clark has managed to somehow spin a critical sitution into gold; she looks awfully good right now while just yesterday it looked like it was all over for her. Astonishing.
UPDATE: There is another plausible Peters-SFO scenario suggested by this story in the Herald:
The statement, several pages long, was generated by the trust and showed incomings and outgoings. It showed money from the Vela brothers and Sir Robert Jones going in, then being paid to New Zealand First.
So the SFO might examine this document and conclude that funds from the Spencer Trust were indeed paid to New Zealand First. This will mean that Peters has been lying to the country and that the party has been filing false declarations for years but this is not the concern of the Serious Fraud Office. They drop the case and Peters gleefully announces that he has been exonerated.