With hindsight – or even you’d think, with foresight – it was not a great idea for Michael Cullen to be leading the Labour bloc’s attempt to dent Owen Glenn’s testimony to the privileges committee. It only made Cullen, Russell Fairbrother, and Paul Swain look like they were doing legal work for Winston Peters pro bono, by challenging Glenn’s powers of recall. That is not the position the Clark government should be taking, right now.
Yes the pro bono legal team for Peters, I like it.
Wheeling up Cullen, Labour’s big gun and deputy chair of the privileges committee for the task of trying to trip up Glenn’s recall and command of detail only had a vague chance of triggering a meltdown – or boilover – from the billionaire witness. Tackling Glenn about who phoned who and spoke to whom back in 2005 also never looked like overturning the basic issue of whether Peters had gone out actively soliciting the money. The Labour effort just looked like nitpicking, or worse.
Cullen spent minutes obsessed over whether Glenn called Peters back or Peters called again in relation to an earlier phone call (not the one that triggered the donation).
Being faithful to the laws of natural justice and due process is all very well. Yet the government’s fidelity to Peters is starting to look suicidal and willful. Leave it too late – and we have probably gone past that point already – and sacking Peters will just look like rats leaving a sinking ship.
The Government could have established the truth about this issue many months ago. They have no one to blame for dragging it out, but themselves.
That was why the Glenn appearance in person, was so crucial. Before then, there was still an outside chance that the committee could be plausibly uncertain on the issue of credibility between Peters and Glenn. If so, the committee’s findings would have split along party lines – thus leaving Peters an escape route with the voters. Not any more. The balance of credibility has tilted decisively, in Glenn’s favour.
Yep. Even Helen is backing away her preposterous “innocent explanation” stance.
Barring miracles from Peters in his rebuttal testimony tonight, this episode is all but over. What Glenn produced was a timeline fleshed out by email and telephone records. While those records were incomplete on certain fine points – as in, was it Peters ‘or someone from New Zealand First’ who contacted Glenn in late November 2005 ? But from then on through the crucial period in December 2005, Glenn’s oral evidence and supportive email/telephone records were credible, and utterly damning to Peters.
By way of collateral damage, the Glenn testimony has heightened the prospect of Clark being asked to appear before the privileges committee.
She should be asked to appear, so she can testify whether or not Mike Williams had any discussions with her at all in 2005 over the desirability of Owen Glenn helping out NZ First and/or Winston Peters.
The Glenn testimony also achieved what the partisan politicking by National could not do. It has linked the Peters affair to Labour in detail and in spirit, and has made the government’s behaviour towards one of its main party donors look desperately shabby. As Glenn told John Campbell on TV3, these are not the sort of people you’d want alongside you in the trenches. Because they would push you out.
And probably gnaw on your bones afterwards!
In December 2005, Williams may have given a green light for the donation only in general terms, and was almost certainly not privy to the subsequent transaction – but this happened in circumstances where he would have been fairly sure the transaction would proceed The nature of the nine floor gossip mill also makes it inconceivable that the upper echelons of the government’s parliamentary wing would not have subsequently known informally about the Glenn donation to Peters …
Of course. Williams hold back on details of donors to Labour, but something affecting a parliamentary partner would be notified to the leadership.
… the subsequent tactical choice by Labour to try and denigrate Glenn is unfortunately, all too typical. Someone, someday may make a list of the people the Labour government has abandoned over the course of this decade in the name of expediency, and its own survival. Karmically, one of those people who was being fitted for the dud parachute has now struck back. Winston, barring miracles, will be the next to be jettisoned.
That would be a long list.Tags: Gordon Campbell, Michael Cullen, Mike Williams, Owen Glenn, Scoop, Winston First