Winston Peters has an opinion piece at Fairfax and he explains why John Key, these days, is more often wrong than right.
A tidal wave of change is blowing through the West.
Never in recent history have we experienced such political upheaval as we have experienced this year.
First Brexit, when the British public voted to leave the European Union.
Now, this week, Donald Trump, the property magnate, reality TV host and political novice, came out of nowhere to snatch the United States presidency.
The people who claim to be experts – the pollsters, the chattering classes, the talk-show hosts who live their lives in a bubble not understanding what ordinary people think – they all predicted Hillary Clinton.
They got it wrong.
Yes, they did. Dead wrong. It was embarrassing really how wrong they were, so wrong in fact that Martyn Bradbury almost lost the world title for being the most wrong person in politics.
It was the same in New Zealand. A week ago I gave a speech to the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce saying that Trump would win and why.
Our New Zealand “experts” were all caught out – and these are the people who inform the New Zealand public.
To understand what happened we must put aside our personal views of Clinton or Trump and analyse why American voters voted the way they did.
The New York Times, who are no fans of Trump, gave its opinion: “It was a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters who felt that the promise of the United States had slipped their grasp amid decades of globalisation and multiculturalism.”
In June, Trump visited Monessen, a small town near Pittsburgh which had dropped from a population of 18,000 to 7500. The city’s steel mill had been shut down; jobs had disappeared overseas.
The mayor had appealed to Washington and President Barack Obama. He did not receive a response. He appealed to Trump. Trump came to the town and listened to the mayor’s concerns.
This was just one small town. The mayor, a life-long Democrat, voted for Trump.
Ordinary forgotten, ignored, and disillusioned Americans like this mayor, got Mr Trump, a rank outsider, into the White House.
You can have all the IT systems, social media experts and engagement software like NationalBuilder all you want. Nothing in politics beats a good message and knocking on doors.
Our Prime Minister, John Key, was shocked at the Brexit result in the UK.
The American election result shocked him all over again.
The unexpected, and to him, the inexplicable, happened.
It is obvious that he, like all the pollsters and opinionated “experts,” thought Clinton would take over the Oval office.
This was clear from Key’s comments about the US campaign over the last few months.
Those comments have now put us seriously behind the eight-ball in terms of picking up our relationship with the United States.
Even David Farrar, usually reticent to pick anything but his nose unless he has got data, was going the Clinton route. He’s New Zealand’s best pollster but I know he will now be seriously looking at methodology failure so he can avoid the same thing happening here next year.
And ever since Tuesday’s result came through,Key has struggled to find some common ground with Trump.
His comment: “I’m sure we can think of something; there must be something out there,” reveals the level of his difficulty.
The fundamental fact is Key is a committed globalist straight out of Wall St. Trump is an anti-globalist and no friend of Wall St.
Trump has promised to “kill” the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on which Key and National have pinned so many of their hopes.
How painful it was this week to watch Key in denial that TPP was dead.
“The TPP is not going to happen in the short term,” he reportedly said. “It is definitely not going anywhere in a hurry.”
Key was for the TPPA because it was mostly about corporate greed, the power of international corporations, and so very little about trade. Even the trade gains were diminutive for New Zealand.
Defenders claimed NZ won concessions but an analysis shows few would have been imminent, and NZ remains the country with tariff-free borders while other countries are protecting their own with both with tariffs against our produce and subsidies for their own producers.
I don’t agree with Winston Peters that the TPP is dead. Stalled is probably a better answer. But Donald Trump is the master of the deal and I suspect he will renegotiate some aspects, which is great because we will also get to renegotiate some aspects to improve our lot.
With Trump making ready to take over the White House, New Zealand must now work out how best to deal with his new administration and the tidal wave of change that has made 2016 one of the most turbulent of recent times.
The disturbing thing is that it appears the only thing our Prime Minister and the US President-elect appear to have in common is an interest in golf.
Is that a pitch for the Foreign Minister job next year?