The most sucessful Foreign Minister?

The Hive is choking badly on the assertion in Trans-Tasman that Winston Peters could be the most successful foreign minister since Brian Talboys.

First of all I will acknowledge Peters has done better than I expected.  And certainly his policy instincts are relatively sound and middle of the road.   His weaknesses has been lack of attention to detail, the fixation with the media, and not even supporting his own Govt’s trade policy.  But his attention to the US relationship has been good, and he has done quite well on the personal relationships.

But I agree TT is getting carried away by elevating Peters after just two years to some sort of top ranking.  Let’s look at the recent Foreign Ministers post Talboys:

  1. Warren Cooper 81 – 84
  2. David Lange 84 – 87
  3. Russell Marshall 87 – 90
  4. Mike Moore 90
  5. Don McKinnon 90 – 99
  6. Phil Goff 99 – 05
  7. Winston Peters 05 –

Now I will exclude Moore as he was not in the job for long. So if I was to rank from top to bottom, it would probably be

  1. Don McKinnon
  2. Phil Goff
  3. David Lange
  4. Winston Peters
  5. Russell Marshall
  6. Warren Cooper

It is hard to argue against McKinnon as top.  Only Holyoake served longer, his Commonwealth appointment speaks for itself and Bougainville was a personal highlight.

Goff has done little wrong (except misuse confidential information to attack Brash), and was a very solid performer.

Lange is hard to rate as he was PM also, but he helped put NZ on the map.  High point was at the Oxford Union while lowlight was caving in to the French over the Rainbow Warrior.  Also did well with Africa and India.

Peters I have discussed above.

Marshall I am possibly too hard on, but my recollection is more rhetoric than action.  He was also on the loony left of Labour.

Cooper went on to be an entertaining Mayor of Queenstown, but never shined as Foreign Minister.  Muldoon was the de facto Minister.

Incidentally from 1957 to 1975  the Minister of Foreign Affairs was also the PM – for Nash, Holyoake, Marshall, Kirk and Rowling.

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