Chris Hipkins really is as politically stupid as he appears. In his infinite wisdom, he decided to have a battle of wits with Winston Peters, a battle that I might add he is singularly ill-equipped to deal with. But he went there.

The New Zealand First leader and Cabinet minister delivered his State of the Nation speech yesterday.

He took jabs at the previous government’s “race-based theory”, alluding to co-governance, “where some people’s DNA… made them somehow better than others”.

“I’ve seen that sort of philosophy before. I saw it in Nazi Germany, we all did,” he told an approving crowd.

In response, Hipkins said: “Kiwis deserve better than a deputy prime minister who behaves like a drunk uncle at a wedding.”

Today, the war of words has continued with a tweet from Peters.

“Chris Hipkins hid behind a press release yesterday and said that he was glad he ‘ruled me out’ before the election,” he tweeted this morning. “Newsflash Chris.

“I publicly ruled out working with you and your woke Labour cronies twelve months before you stuttered the words.

“But you know that. And so do the media who have the temerity to repeat your stutter.

“PS. Your ‘drunk uncle’ comment is laughable coming from someone who would get drunk on a wine biscuit.”

Peters finished with: “Keep the press releases coming.”


Now I know we already have this quote as the Sledge of the Day, but what I want to explain is the politics of this, and how utterly bad it is for Chris Hipkins.

Firstly, a leader of a major party should never engage in a tit-for-tat spat with a minor party leader. It demeans your putative superior position and brings you down to their level. Sure you can engage over significant policy ideas, but name-calling isn’t that, and Chris Hipkins called Winston Peters a “drunk uncle”.

By engaging, Hipkins looked petulant, and churlish and here comes the second part, he risked being made a fool of. This is precisely what the far more nimble-minded Winston Peters did without resorting to epithets like “drunk uncle”.

Winston’s response was humiliating for Hipkins; he was being mocked, in a blokish manner, about not being able to handle his liquor…which everyone knows Winston Peters can.

It was an oldie but a goodie sledge that Winston Peters used, and it was devastating.

Though, I think Winston Peters may have spelt whine incorrectly.

Winston Peters had a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...