It is a truism in most Western democracies. Politicians are regarded as pretty much the scum of the earth. Rarely do politicians manage to rise above the popular paradigm of being power-hungry, ambitious, and self-serving fools. Every so often a politician does rise higher in the public's mind. It is so exceptional that it is rated a remarkable achievement.
One reason for this is only indirectly the fault of politicians as a class. The fact is that most folk in the West have a belief in the State (or government) as a demi-god. In the secularist religion, the State is the entity or power which can solve all problems, set all things to right, and usher in the Millennium. When government fails to meet expectations, the voter becomes cynical and angry. He feels manipulated and lied to. Which is actually not far from the truth. For politicians will constantly play upon the people's general belief that politicians are semi-divinised servants of the demi-god. Politicians will overstate their abilities. They exaggerate the powers of the State. They promise what they can never deliver. Their declarations of heaven about to break out on earth are willingly and gullibly received.
In New Zealand we have a populist politician who has been on the fringes of governments' powers for decades. Winston Peters is the fools' politician.
He promises the earth, delivers little or nothing, but is beloved by the gullible and those who have been fooled by him many times over. Shame on them. But he remains an institution. Fortunately, despite his protestations to the contrary, he remains mortal and Father Time is sculpting his marks and effects. Winston Peters will not be with us--certainly not on the public stage--for much longer.
His latest manipulative, electoral gimmick is to "promise" the protesters who lost family members in the Pike River Mine explosions that he will ensure they can get access to the remains of their loved ones--which are still sealed off in the deadly mine. This is an heroic stand for Peters to take. He is manipulating those still grieving, whilst knowing that he will never have to deliver on his promise.
We believe his cynical bluff ought to be called out--publicly.
Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a "bottom line" to any election deal made next year. In interviews this morning, Peters also reiterated his claim that he will enter the mine himself. "I'm making no bones about it, we'll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn't have to be," he said on TV's Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning. [Stuff]Health and Safety laws, as they now stand, make directors personally liable if they permit accidents to occur at workplaces. Pike River Mine remains a workplace, albeit presently inactive. The directors of the owning company, Solid Energy are responsible to ensure that no harm comes to anyone on the premises of that mine. Meanwhile, scientific advisers have informed them (and us all) that the presently sealed-up mine is fit to bursting with deadly, explosive methane gas. Knowing this, the Directors face personal ruin if they allow anyone access to the mine who subsequently gets injured or dies. In other words, if they allow anyone in the mine they will be breaking the law and liable to personal fines for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So Peters is making a cheap promise which can only be delivered if the owner/operators of the mine become lawbreakers, and expose themselves to financial ruin.
The solution is simple: Solid Energy should announce their intention to set up Pike River Mine as a stand-alone company. They should also announce that their intention is conditional upon Peters being willing to serve as a Director of that new company, along with his Parliamentary NZ first party colleagues. This would mean that Peters would personally have to indemnify anyone who gets hurt whilst entering the deadly mine to look for the remains of those who died within it.
We would be doubtless treated to the spectacle of the Great Charlatan beating a hasty retreat to his Shelobian Lair to await his next victim.