The deputy prime minister’s career is ending but it isn’t a failure. He hasn’t achieved anything but there isn’t any evidence that he wanted to achieve anything. His career has been about attention, adulation and, when required, elections.
Winston has issues he campaigns on, but never does anything about them when he gets into Government.
Yet after four decades, what legacy is he leaving behind?
The tragedy of Peters’ career is that it has been politics for politics’ sake. He retains some Muldoonist instincts but instincts are all it seems to be.
Peters can credibly claim to be indifferent between supporting the starkly different political agendas of Bill English and Jacinda Ardern or between Jim Bolger and Helen Clark because the NZ First leader has no driving political agenda of his own.
It is fitting then to reflect on Peters’ maiden speech. At the end he embarks on a curious attack on an unidentified class of critic: “…the critic I am talking about does not see the improvement of society or of the individual as the objective beyond the admonition; rather his criticism is a goal in itself… The critic I am speaking about has no such goals. He sets out to exploit every tremor and spasm in our society, the economy, or race relations, seeking to use every such event as a vehicle to project his own public personally.”
Winston Peters has become that critic. He has lingered so long on our national stage that he has become the very villain that he warned us about four long decades past.
It is time for the nation to enjoy his retirement.
There will be no legacy. At best a minor footnote in the history books.