Even being generous, it is hard to regard APEC, Winston’s first outing as foreign minister, as anything but an unmitigated disaster. And not because Winston himself is incapable of doing a reasonable job, but because Clark and Peters have come up with a new system of executive government which is so bizarre it was inevitable it would cause problems.
Let’s look at today’s stories alone:
* Goff has had to apologise to Peters and reassure him he isn’t trying to undermine him.
* Goff has had to reassure Australia that “policy from Winston will be not policies spun off the top of anybody’s head but the policy of the Labour-led Government”. Not even I would blame Winston for being insulted by that.
* Goff told Winston the remarks were untrue, and he denied making them. When told by the NZ Herald the remarks were on the record, Peters said “You’d better have it on tape”. The Herald with incredible (and deserved) smugness responds “The Herald does”. Heh.
* Revelation that Peters’s staff are making fools of themselves desperately trying to see if anyone has a photo of Peters shaking hands with Condoleezza Rice. That’s all they want – the photo op.
* Dr Cullen pours scorn on Winston asking Australia to help us with our relationship with the US, saying “he would rather Australia supported New Zealand’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup”.
* References to Peters being like a mother-in-law. Despite Cullen trying to claim he likes his mother-in-law, no-one in NZ believes this was a compliment.
* Cullen saying that Goff would be keeping a close eye on the portfolio, implying Peters is not trusted
I have long studied Winston’s behaviour and psychology. He will be seething with rage at all this bad publicity and insults. It could be a very rough ride if he goes feral.