Kate Hawkesby: Who needs enemies when you've got friends like Winston

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Sep 2019, 1:34PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Deputy Winston Peters.

Kate Hawkesby: Who needs enemies when you've got friends like Winston

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Sep 2019, 1:34PM

So what did we get yesterday after a weekend of crisis meetings between the PM and her party over how they've handled this sex abuse scandal and more importantly for them, how they're going to move on from it?

Well we got a PM on the front foot, fronting media saying no excuses, they got it wrong, the focus is now on the complainants as it should be, and they're going to put this right.

Basically she comes out to shut this thing down.

To set a new direction.

To ask that it no longer gets played out in the public arena.

To basically get this off the front page.

But lo and behold, what does she get by way of sideshow as she's doing all this?

She gets Simon Mitchell, a member of the original panel investigating these claims, lawyering up and putting out a statement igniting this whole thing back into the public arena again, turning it back into a he said, she said, and undermining the complainants in the process by claiming the panel were not told the nature of these allegations was sexual.

So, undermining the PM and dragging this whole thing back to square one.

And then, just to rub salt in the wound, she's got Winston.

Winston, who suddenly appears after weeks off, grumpily mumbling about how it's nobody's business what sort of surgery he's had, leaps into the fray by politicising the whole thing again. By making it not about the complainants (again) but now about his arch nemesis Paula Bennett.

He also adds confusion to the mix, he knows stuff we don't know he says, (classic Winston).

He basically questions the authenticity of the complainants claims.

So we have the PM, publicly siding with the complainants, claiming this will be dealt with properly now, and professionally, and behind closed doors, and asking to keep this out of the public domain.

And yet at the same time, Winston Peters and Simon Mitchell, doing the exact opposite.

Why isn't everyone on message here?

Has the PM lost control of her party and her government?

Is no one listening to anyone around there anymore?

Playing it out in public, undermining the complainants, undermining the PM herself, who at that very moment is trying to move the media on from this and players in her own party are grabbing headlines off her, looking to defend themselves.

Putting the focus back on them.

The complainants have put out a statement saying they're "hugely disappointed" that just as some progress appeared to be being made, this whole thing looks to get dragged backwards again.

The Prime Minister has lost control of the narrative here - just as she was trying to grab it back.

Who needs enemies when you've got friends like Winston and the Labour Party.

The PM said yesterday that Labour had failed, it appears they're still failing.