Prince Charles likely to be New Zealand’s next Head of State


Early yesterday it was announced that Prince Charles would be most likely to become New Zealand’s next head of state. The result, based on a unanimous vote of the Heads of State and Heads of Government assembled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting  was endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen of England. The Prince, father of William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, has been widely viewed as the next successor. But if Charles, Prince of Wales becomes King of England, how will a man viewed as stuffy and pedantic in some quarters be received?

I will be honest now that I support a Republic and a New Zealand Head of State. I do not believe that foreign states should be ruled by a hereditary sovereign, from thousands of kilometres away. Never have and never will.

Much has been written by so called researchers and authors about Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. His marriage and relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, subsequent marriage and her gaining of what sounds like a rather begrudging title, appears to have been accepted by Her Majesty rather coolly. Maintaining the tradition and protocol of the Royal  Family, one might have expected Prince Charles to stay loyal to Diana. Make what one will of Diana and Dodi al Fayed, but perhaps with her marriage to Prince Charles collapsing, the resulting affair should not have been surprising.

It is William and Harry that I feel sorry for. But now grown men, the former with two children and the latter about to be married, the endless media scrutiny, rumour and innuendo fuelled by money hungry grubs in the womens magazines shall be used to it by now.

As for how this will affect a Republic of New Zealand? Prince William is widely viewed as a better choice. His maturity, down to earth persona coupled with the graceful way his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge conducts herself and their children mike him a hit with many. Maybe his time is still coming but many would prefer him to reign.

Subsequently I expect a spike in support for a Republic. The argument for a Republic oof New Zealand has been laid out in other articles. But this is the first time that I have attempted to argue against having Prince Charles as a Head of State. This is further backed up knowledge that Australians favour a Republic, but are more waiting for the Queen to pass on and have a second referendum. Their 1999 referendum asked whether an Australian should be Head of State, but its failure to provide the right to an ELECTED Head of State meant it failed.

 

Syrian crisis shows no major players should be trusted


Around lunch time yesterday (N.Z.T.), France, Britain and the United States launched strikes against chemical weapon targets in Syria. The strikes which come after a chemical weapons attack against defenceless citizens in Douma a few days ago, have inflamed the rhetoric from both Moscow and Washington. But as we wait to see what kind of response Russia will make, it is also clear that the major media agencies in both countries have been far from freely dispensing the truth.

The only thing New Zealand should be relentlessly pushing aside from a truce of some sort is a neutral set of inspectors not from any U.N. Security Council country, being allowed to go in, unfettered and report direct to the Secretary General. I am specifically thinking or Switzerland or Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil and maybe Singapore – nations that are known for maintaining original foreign policy, but also crossing a diverse geographical and ethnic divide.

I do not trust the White House or the Kremlin. Nor do I trust RT or Fox. All of these networks have a degree of bias that undermines journalistic integrity. RT is known – by its own admission to talk direct to Kremlin. Its blind support of the incumbent suggests to me it potentially faces consequences if it writes an original thought. whilst Fox is a neo-conservative  channel that was established by Rupert Murdoch as a sort of light entertainment/news channel. The company they keep in terms of viewers and commentators in their comments section suggest a channel that supports war against Iran and North Korea, ignorant of the consequences and dismissive of anyone who raises a counter argument.

The spiels that the media feed the people, sometimes with a clear government spin, as is the case with Russia should be checked by a fact finder first. In the case of the suspect chemical weapon facilities in Syria, the French, British and Americans should have given the inspectors a chance to confirm them as chemical weapon facilities. Governments by default have the means to hide information so that it cannot be released. All Governments – western or otherwise have an agenda. Some are corrupted by money. Some have huge monetary resources to tap into.

In some respects Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reminds me of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Mr Castro became well known for his staunch anti-American rhetoric. Mr al-Assad might not be so staunch, but he is becoming well known for his contemptuous regard international norms and human rights. All of this has led me to wonder if he quietly agitates for a major strike by the United States so that Russia is somehow justified in a massive military retaliation – in order to deter the Americans from attacking Mr Castro got the U.S.S.R. to place medium range nuclear missiles on the island knowing there was no way the Americans would tolerate that kind of threat so close by. This is what triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations tried to divert attention when confronted at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

New Zealand needs to stick to its instincts. As a nation the only assumption we should make is that this is far from over as a crisis and has the potential to get considerably worse.

 

Of trade deals and revived Cold War geopolitics


When New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters commented about trade with Russia earlier this week, there was mixed reaction. Our allies were surprised. Russia, probably grinning and the ordinary Jim and Jane wondering what just happened.

I wonder how many people born post-1989 would recognize that today we are in the midst of the very sort of Cold War geopolitical environment that our parents and grandparents found themselves living through. I wonder how many of the would realize how little it would take to cause an international incident that the whole world regrets. But above all, I wonder how much those in New Zealand who were spared the tensions of the Cold War, realize that just because they are nations that we have traditionally been good friends with does not automatically make Britain or the U.S. automatically right when they make a foreign policy decision.

Mr Peters highlighted the stark differences between New Zealands priorities and those of Britain. The New Zealand priorities which seem to be about securing trade agreements with European nation’s post-Brexit, include a potential deal with Russia, and another with the European Union.

Perhaps New Zealand is being a bit naive. The Russian Government is renown for it’s bullying tactics. It’s attempt at annexing Ukraine was a flagrant attempt at rebuilding the Russian empire of old, whilst also improving access to the Black Sea. Doing a free trade agreement with it sort of seeks to legitimise the activities of a country that violates international law as much as America does.

Whilst needing to be able to conduct trade with nation’s whose agendas and views are not compatible with New Zealand, it needs to be said that our values are too important to compromise for dollars. We were shocked when Russia carried out acts such as the attack on Alexander Litvinenko, and rightly so because the nature of the assassination was one that could only becarried out by someone in a very high position. We were shocked when Russia vetoed moves in the United Nations  to condemn the use of gas on civilians in Aleppo. We have been surprised by the apparent use of a military grade agent last week against a spy and his daughter.

At some point no one should be surprised if there is push back against Russia for this conduct. Russia’s conduct in many respectsrhas been similar to that of the United States. The latter can be accused of invading nation’s and has times propped up dictators such as General Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, and turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabias war in Yemen.

New Zealand needs to ask itself this:

  1. Does it want to remain blindly supportive of America and Britain even when they are not always right?
  2. Does it want to be seen supporting a nation (Russia) that carries out horrifying assassinations, annexations and most probably supplied the missile system used to down Malaysian Airlines flight MH7?
  3. Pursue an independent foreign policy including trade agreements with whomever we see fit? And at the possible expense or delay of deals with traditional partners?

Whilst wanting Russia to understand it is not helping its own reputation to be carrying out such poison attacks, history is littered with evidence of the other side committing atrocities  as well. When a weakened Prime Minister of Britain goes up against the nuclear power that is Russia and its leader says in a threatening voice not to threaten a nuclear power, who is prepared to continue with such a black and white threat?

Mr Peters and New Zealand First should learn from this.

Trump anti-Muslim tweets no help to religious tensions


Last week United States President Donald Trump was looking at videos from Britain First, an anti-immigrant hard line nationalist group in Britain of alleged Muslim offences. One was of a boy being attacked. Another was of a statue being desecrated and a third one was allegedly of a Muslim attacking a Dutch boy on crutches. Then he retweeted them, to the horror of British Prime Minister Theresa May.

By retweeting the videos of a known nationalist hate group, Mr Trump sent a signal to Muslims that he does not view them or their religion in the same light as he does other religions. He has in effect condoned hatred on a religion and its members when most of all the West should be seeking to understand the Islamic world better.

Mr Trump’s rebuttal of Mrs May’s criticism potentially harms the British-American relationship. Mrs May was right to point out that the retweets were highly and unnecessarily inflammatory. And this has given Mrs May and her Government some unlikely allies in places she might not thought them to possibly exist.

I am no fan of Mrs May who I think of as the “Maybot”, because she was perceived to have the empathy of a robot to the victims of the Grenfell apartment block fire. However, Mrs May was quite right to rebuke Mr Trump for retweeting those videos.

Mr Trump made two significant mistakes in his response:

  1. He was too lazy to find her proper Prime Ministerial Twitter handle and sent it to another person called who also just happened to be called Theresa May
  2. His put down of Mrs May would have spoken volumes about how Mr Trump views his relationship with Britain – being able and willing to put down America’s nearest and dearest ally, which is sometimes referred to as the 51st State of the U.S. is a hugely problematic indictment on him

American diplomats will be wondering how to undo the damage. For them such a slap in the face of the senior official of their most loyal ally will be staggering. America and Britain will survive this, but the reverberations will continue for awhile yet.

This should concern every other nation wanting peaceful rapproachment with the Islamic world. The so-called leader of the free world showing contempt for a perfectly valid warning about Britain First shows how little understanding Mr Trump has of diplomatic relations.

Or cares.

 

N.Z. Labour should be inspired by Corbyn


On 9 June 2017 I woke up to see the polls closing in Britain. Millions of people had just voted to give incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May a massive fright. But more than that they had shown that perhaps the leader of the U.K Labour Party is not the raving nut case he was made out to be.

What Jeremy Corbyn has done is simply brilliant. He has taken the fight straight to the Conservative Party with his daring to believe that there is a better way forward for Britain. Written off as not having a chance, the Murdoch media determined to bury him alive, made to appear as a betrayer of British principles, one might have thought Mr Corbyn never had a chance. But that memo never reached him. Bold and original policies such as removing the nuclear deterrent have captured the imagination of the left-wing of British politics. But also, Mr Corbyn was a voice of reason amongst the aggressive hard line talk about human rights being traded for progress against terrorism.

But can New Zealand Labour be inspired by Mr Corbyn?

That is a very interesting question. A party of reform, which gave New Zealand its nuclear free status, Labour have done many thing that have caught the imagination of New Zealanders in the past, and include (among many more):

  • Substantial improvement of socio-economic conditions for all, with Maori life expectancy improving 15-20 years
  • Statute of Westminister Adoption Act being passed to help enable New Zealand to become a realm instead of a Dominion
  • Introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit for single parents
  • The Treaty of Waitangi Act, 1975 was the first serious attempt at addressing Treaty issues
  • Major constitutional changes – the Constitution Act (1986), Bill of Rights Act (1990) were passed and still exist today
  • Homosexuality legalized in 1986
  • Enacted essential local government changes that abolished catchment boards and replace them with district and regional councils

So, the question that New Zealand needs to ask of Labour is whether or not we can be inspired by a resurgent Labour Party that stops being National-lite and goes back to the core unionists, minority groups that made it powerful in the first place?

I think we can be. But is Labour up to the task? That is another question altogether.

I want a Government that does not involve National or A.C.T. I do not want a Government that appeases countries that do not care one jot for New Zealand (Saudi Arabia); that believes corporations are more important than people; gutting the social welfare system, under funding health and education and letting the market dictate housing needs. National and A.C.T. stand for all of this.

Labour can work with New Zealand First. It did so very well in 2005-2008 and I understand the Members of Parliament from both parties get on reasonably well. The Greens will also no doubt want to help even if they just strangled their own prospects by only lining up 29 candidates to challenge for 71 electorates.

But none of this is any use if Labour cannot do something inspirational enough to swing voters back to the party of Clark, Fraser and Kirk. Which is why Andrew Little would be doing well to have noted the success of Mr Corbyn and the U.K. Labour Party.