web analytics

Is Politik a propaganda mouthpiece for the UK Embassy?

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 pm, September 8th, 2018 - 29 comments
Categories: australian politics, Deep stuff, journalism, kremlinology, Propaganda, Russia, uk politics, winston peters - Tags:

In Politik’s 7 September issue we are told that Western diplomats in Wellington are surprised that Winston Peters has not accused Russia of the Skripal poisoning or joined some other countries in taking reprisals. Editor Richard Harman quotes a source to tell us that the British in particular were “pissed” at Peters’ response. Well dearie me! I’m with Winston, a wise old owl in a precarious global environment.

Another senior journalist, Brian Rudman, commented rather differently on Britain’s attempts to “blackguard” Russia in New Zealand media when this issue first broke in March this year.

Yet 30 years on, Opposition politicians and parts of the media were now trying to put us back into colonial diapers, criticising the Government for not blindly going wherever Britain decides to go in its “punishing” of Russia for allegedly poisoning Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on UK soil.

Behind the scenes, senior diplomats from the British High Commission in Wellington even lobbied selected journalists, pushing their case for Russian guilt and the need for a united stand against such evil-doing.

It very much looks as though Richard Harman would have been one of the selected journalists. I know Richard well, like and respect him, but I think he is barking up the wrong tree on this issue.

The language in the press release from Winston Peters is careful, as is he in matters diplomatic. He refers to the police investigation which has resulted in the naming of two suspects, although the police call for further information from the public indicates that the case against them is by no  means open and shut.

It is notable that the attribution to the Russian state or its organs does not come from the police, as their press release indicates. It comes entirely from Prime Minister Theresa May, made under parliamentary privilege. In the absence of concrete information, speculation as to what actually happened and why is rampant, as this article in the Independent attests.

I’m living in London at the moment, and would have to say that it is charitable in the extreme to describe the state of UK government politics at the moment as merely chaotic. Theresa May’s net favourability stands at -37. Nobody believes her on anything. The Conservative-led government is now as divided as the Liberal-led government in Australia, with the Tories in open revolt over Brexit. As for their diplomacy post Bojo, the best example would be Jeremy Hunt’s expedition to China to offer a new glorious age of trade, which would only have served to remind the Chinese of the Opium Wars. He also got himself publicly confused about his wife’s ethnic origin!

We may well be entering a new multi-polar world where it will be important for New Zealand to play its traditional role of honest broker, independent, nimble and fundamentally principled. The last place we should be looking for global leadership from is Britain in its current state, as former diplomat Mark Malloch-Brown makes clear in this article. Self-delusion is rampant here.

Winston Peters is and deserves to be treated as a substantial politician and diplomat. One doesn’t have to agree with everything he says, but he is no fool. On this issue, for our country’s sake, I am very glad he is not knee-jerk following the “western” group.

29 comments on “Is Politik a propaganda mouthpiece for the UK Embassy? ”

  1. Stuart Munro 1

    “It is notable that the attribution to the Russian state or its organs does not come from the police, as their press release indicates. It comes entirely from Prime Minister Theresa May, made under parliamentary privilege.”


    “The news comes days after Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service named two Russian nationals as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.”

    • Mike Smith 1.1

      That’s what I said – the police suspect the two Russian men. Attribution to the Russian state comes from Theresa May and was made in Parliament.

      • Stuart Munro 1.1.1

        I’m not sure the inference is unwarranted – either the background of the men, or the circumstances of their access to CBW (on which May will have received some kind of briefing), would be sufficient to infer state involvement.

        • Stuart Munro

          And indeed May has stated:

          “that not only did the two men work for the GRU, the operation was “almost certainly” approved at a “senior level of the Russian state”, meaning Vladimir Putin.”


          Though it is possible she made this leap independently, it is much more likely that this was the substance of her briefing about them.

          • McFlock

            Again as Mike said in the post, she made that comment under privilege.

            Now, I think she probably said it there and only there because if it was an official government statement, the British Government would be accusing the Russian Government of committing an act of war.

            Rather than everybody just knowing the Russians did it, but not being required to make a proportionate response. But even that much would be a carefully considered action.

            It’s a bit like the “blockade” vs “quarantine” pin danced on during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

            • Stuart Munro

              There is a line of reasoning that makes a degree of sense, unlike that of the denialists, which is that (as Veutoviper had it) Yulia was the target. The Skripal family is closely associated with the GRU (her mum apparently) and there is evidently an inheritance to fight over. Under these circumstances it is not impossible that GRU guys went off the reservation in loyalty to their direct employers rather that the state. But the state remains responsible as they are its agents, just as NZ remains responsible for Operation Burnham – until the culprits are tried and punished appropriately.

              • McFlock

                Thing is, if you’re going rogue then you don’t leave a huge finger pointing at you. A car crash or a stabbing would sort the inheritence, not taking a supply of your own nerve agent.

                Look at it from Putin’s point of view if he didn’t order/ok it: “the british say we did it. Like fuck we did. They used novichok? WTF? How many people have that? Pretty much us and the Iranians? WTF was Skripal doing with the Iranians? Nothing? Who are these guys on the aeroflot plane? GRU??? Those pricks are pissing above their pay grade. Who do they answer to? Someone’s gonna get shot”

                • Stuart Munro

                  Yeah – I think his agents often get away with what they do – and as long as they do they probably have fairly free rein. The resources required to track down something like the Skripal assailants are astonishing, and a lot of countries aren’t focused on it. There are anomalous numbers of Russian defectors or disaffected emigres who have died in England recently.

                  Having screwed up I’m sure run and hide is the order of the day – and the line from Mission Impossible: “if any of you are caught or killed the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions”.

                  • McFlock

                    Thing is, if Skripal was the target of an ordered action, then the effect is achieved whether or not he actually dies that time.

                    The objective in that case was to go killing defectors/traitors with two main audiences: potential defectors/traitors who might reconsider looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, and the Russian presidential election voters who like a bit of strong leadership and international dick-measuring. The deaths (and attempted murders) of Russians in GB got good airtime on RT.

                    So what if they missed one? Operationally, they got say 7 out of 8. On English soil. Not a bad job – and they still have plenty of work for toughs, even the ones who can’t travel into INTERPOL-cooperating territory.

          • Dennis Frank

            Putin: “Okay, you two, I understand you were thoroughly briefed a couple of days ago, although according to the doctrine of plausible deniability I have no idea what about. Can you confirm that the briefing was by someone unknown to you who was careful not to identify themselves as connected to our government? Good. Your dachas are being prefabricated as we speak, just mention if you want them on the Black Sea shore, or on our new subtropical Arctic Sea shore to whichever random person engages you in conversation after you leave the building. Someone will contact you later today and provide you with one each of those 24-hour memory-lapse pills, so you’ll forget ever being here. You are true patriots!”

  2. Antoine 2

    Winston is a traitor to Western civilisation


    • Muttonbird 2.1

      You must be dying to expand on that. I can’t wait.

    • Gabby 2.2

      Winston may remember how supportive the poms were when the frogmen blew up that Greenpeace boat Anty.

    • veutoviper 2.3


      IMO Winston Peters’ stance is quite simple. He is a lawyer. He believes in the principle of innocent until proven guilty – not by the press, not by keyboard warriors – but by a court of law in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – ie:

      Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, Presumption of Innocence –
      “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”.

      He himself has been judged time and time again by the press and by keyboard warriors but the above is fundamental to him – despite his liking of playing word games, etc with the press etc.

      End of story – hence his stance is to step back and leave the braying to the likes of May.

      • Antoine 2.3.1

        From my perspective his stance seems to come from a strange desire to befriend Russia. See for instance the prioritisation of a free trade deal with Russia in the coalition agreement. I see no sense in this.


  3. McFlock 3

    Much as I believe that the Skripal poisoning was almost certainly a conscious act of the Russian state, the British diplomatic efforts seem to me to be more about global alignment rather than hoping for any justice.

    So for consistency’s sake, our government should be a scathing about the Russians as it is about drone strikes or the Chinese occupation of its “autonomous zones”.

    • lprent 3.1

      I’d agree. However those are my opinions rather than something that we should act upon. Getting entangled in this great power stupidity is just idiotic. There simply aren’t any leaders amongst the 19th century thinking “great powers” worth a tin of shit.

      We have the US making absolutely idiotic destabilising and highly illegal wars like the one that George W Bush created in Iraq for domestic political reasons. The same ones that limited what the Obama administration could do. The obvious subsequent morass followed. Now we have this narcissistic dimwit in the White House with what appears to be a severe mental break with reality. God knows what he is capable of doing..

      Then there are the scavenging arseholes of the Russian Federation circling around like vultures with foreign adventures like their invasions and annexations under the cover of the kinds of deniable ‘plausibility’ that only a indoctrinated braindead ideologue could believe. Not to mention their close support of the genocidal and chemical weapon using regime in Syria. With their recent track record of simple and obvious lying in the pursuit of plausible deniability, denials from the Russian Federation now just read to me like confirmations of state sponsored guilt. I’d add that there appears to be absolutely no point in getting involved in any trade deals with these dickheads – they appear to be incapable of making agreements honestly.

      So far the Chinese have managed to keep most of their arsehole behaviours inside their own borders. However some of the active corruption with their various ‘buy the resources’ programs are clearly designed to destabilize various countries political processes and to make them into compliant client states. What happens in Malaysia after the ultra corrupt UMNO got turfed and some of the more obvious unsustainable projects got canned will be interesting.

      Personally, presumably like Mike, I’m more concerned that some fools in Britain and here seem to think that we should follow the lead of the ‘motherland’ and at their word.

      Really? What bloody century are these cretins (both local and in the UK) living in?

      I’m nearly 60 years old and a 5th generation kiwi. And there haven’t been any living migrants from the UK in my family since well before I was born. I’ve never felt any desire to follow Britain because (to be frank) they have a history of being great power arseholes who have no real interest in this end of the world except when it is convenient for themselves.

      What has become clear over my lifetime is that to preserve and grow the intensely non-patriotic way kiwis want to run their lives and their country is that we need to depend on ourselves and multi-lateral internationalism. Getting involved with any of these behemoth states is just an exercise in stupidity. This is a bit tricky in my opinion because it is the kind of mindless stupidity that the National party and many of their supporters seem to specialise in (see Antoine at comment 2).

      So support dragging these GRU operatives into court, and if they hide behind the skirts of mother Russia, then the UK and other nations should just release the evidence into the international community.

      But as a nation, we’ll make up our own mind about how far we want to go. We don’t need morons with 19th century ideas in the UK or here interfering in our politics.

    • Ad 3.2

      Our diplomatic positioning this and other comparable issues is always nuanced.
      That reflects our trade positions.
      We signed up a trade deal with China, so our statements about anything there are nuanced.
      We hope for one with the EU, so our statements are nuanced.
      We hope for one with Russia (or at least Winston does), so our statements are nuanced.
      We have a big one with Australia, so our statements are nuanced.
      We now have one across CPTPP countries, so our statements about all of them are nuanced.
      That nuance is written in its name: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Not the Ministry of Bold.
      Seems to be an awful lot of nuance about.

      We don’t do statesmanlike or strong positions, because we are small, weak, insignificant, and dependent on everybody for everything. That’s the way it’s going to stay.


      …well, we have fuck all trade with Nauru, so we go all-in there.

      • Chuck 3.2.1

        You have summed it up well Ad.

        Winston does seem keen to stay on the good side of his Russian friends.

  4. One Two 4

    You’re either with us, or against us

    Same tactics…transparent…empty…hollow…fake…

    Still too many keen on believing the manufactured stories of a group of lying warmongers…

    Voters and the spells cast on feeble minds enable their continuity…

  5. Bill 5

    The UK government had to come up with something – anything. I was reading somewhere (one of the broadsheets) that as far as the UK government is concerned, this naming of two guys draws a line under the Skripal stuff.

    Way I see it, two guys went to Stonehenge.

    And for six(?) months, rooms full of short straw winners had the thankless task of moving forward through video footage (usually, the idea is to backtrack) until they could point to someone (anyone!) coming off a Russian flight and heading up to the vicinity of an iconic tourist attraction.

  6. Lucy 6

    What version of reality says that “senior diplomats from the British High Commission in Wellington even lobbied selected journalists” will do you any good at all. The thing about journo’s is they have no power and in NZ if they are not part of MSM they tend to be heard by tiny echo chambers. If the senior diplomats want us to believe there is a thing called evidence. We are so used to the forces of the law fudging evidence that we are unlikely to believe the UK police as there is nothing that ties the two guys with the crime

  7. Philj 7

    Stacey Kirk, Stuff, wrote an’interesting’ piece which highlighted the lack of highlighting by the NZ MSM of the latest Russian involvement in the latest smoke and mirror episode. It looked like someone had a quiet word… and some smoke and mirrors. Suspect.

  8. peterlepaysan 8

    Given the state of UK politics anything T May says needs to be treated very circumspectly, how much support has she from her own party, let alone her MPs?

    The Russians are a convenient diversion.

    It is highly unlikely that Putin does not know who did what with novochok. He would know who produces it outside of Russia, he would know who stores it outside of Russia.

    Whichever state(s) are involved Russia may not be directly implicated, complicit very probably. Russia has warm water ports, Ukrainian, Crimean, Syrian and NATO agendas.

    Direct involvement with Skripal attempt was very likely from one or more players from ex soviet republics, middle east, eastern european states.

    It was a clumsy and clue laden trail that was left, probably deliberately.

    Winston Peters is being diplomatic. That is what he is paid for.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Seniors – our parents and grandparents
    International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism, Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said today. “What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago