So what does the pugnacious Winston Peters have in common with the skipper of the Graf Spee?

The Graf was sunk not by the enemy but by its captain.

Finding no news of worth in the Sunday papers today, Alf picked up a copy of a speech by Winston Peters to browse through while breakfasting.

It was optimistically titled The Road Back and was delivered to the NZ First Tauranga Electorate.

The road back to where, exactly, was not stated.

And nope. Peters did not deliver the speech in a telephone booth. He hired the St Johns Church Hall, but Alf does not know how many members of the party faithful turned up for the occasion.

Alf notes that the admirable Ele, at Homepaddock, has been amused by the Peters speech too.

She asks-

How much does Winston Peters still owe taxpayers?

That’s the $158,000 question he should be asked now that he’s announced he’s got the affairs of his one man band party in order and will be fighting the 2011 election.

There are several other questions which could be put to him but if his past performance is anything to go by we won’t get any satisfactory answers.

Yep. That pretty well sums it up.

Peters told his audience –

“We are using this period to rebuild, to make sure that the time is well spent and that when we go back into Parliament we do so with renewed vigour and commitment.”

Alf guffawed at the use of the word “we”. The idea of Peters allowing anybody except Peters to make decisions was…well, the word risible springs to mind.

Then Peters said –

“Well we are active on a number of fronts.

“First – we are determined to avoid the errors of the last campaign.

“To that end we have been carefully checking our processes and organisational arrangements to ensure that our house is entirely ship shape.

“There will be no successful repeat of the attacks that derailed us in 2009.”

Hold it right there.

Peters is showing some early signs of dementia, perhaps. Or an eagerness to rewrite history.

The mixed metaphor – getting the house ship-shape so it won’t be derailed – is good for a giggle too.

But check the bloody date. The election was a year ago, in 2008. Has the bugger forgotten already?

More critically, take note of the burblings about the party failing at the polls because it came under attack.

Bollocks. The enemy was to be found within.

Does anyone remember Peters’ belligerent rebukes of anyone who questioned him about the highly controversial funding of his party?

Or how he stood down as Foreign Affairs and Racing Minister in August last year pending a police investigation into accusations that he failed to declare a series of political donations received by his party.

Or – a few weeks later – how he was censured by the Parliament for “knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests” over a hefty donation made in 2005?

His handling of the funding issue was politically disastrous.

Result: New Zealand First failed to reach the five percent threshold at the general election, Peters did not regain his seat and Parliament was rid of all New Zealand First MPs.

Come to think of it, Peters made his speech on the same day as we were celebrating the New Zealand sailors who fought in the Battle of the River Plate early in World War II.

Alf reckons Lord High Admiral Winston Peters did to his party much the same as the Graf Spee’s captain did to his ship during a lull in that battle.

Captain Langsdorf scuttled his ship.

The big difference is that Langsdorf did it deliberately. He also did the decent thing and got everybody off the ship first, then committed suicide.

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