Peters, UKIP, the Commonwealth and fools

There’s no fool like an old fool whom thinks trading salvation means rejecting the European Union, USA, Japan and China?

This week Winston Peters is in the UK and gave a speech to the House of Lords. It was noted in news reports that Peters spoke about supporting ‘Brexit’ – an exit of Britain from the European Union.

Something I missed – or it wasn’t reported – is that the event that Peters spoke at was hosted by the UK Independence Party’s leader in the House of Lords and UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesperson, and Peters was introduced by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.


Winston Peters and Nigel Farage

Does Peters want New Zealand to try and wind the clock back to the 1950-60s where our trade  was overwhelmingly reliant on the UK? Until they discarded us and other Commonwealth countries and ex-colonies of the UK and associated themselves more closely with Europe, ending up in a growing European Union.

Peters featured in a UKIP article: Britain can trade around the world post-Brexit

Mr Peters said, “The Commonwealth…  is now a dynamic powerhouse, crossing every time zone and trading session in the world.  It covers nearly 30 million square kilometres, almost a quarter of the World’s land area.  It’s members can be found in every single inhabited continent.  Together, we have a population of over 2.3 billion, nearly a third of the world’s population.  In 2014 the Commonwealth produced GDP of $10.45 trillion, a massive 17% of gross world product.  Seen that way the Commonwealth could be a colossus.”

“It has a diversity of markets the EU can only dream of, from first world economies to emerging markets with huge growth potential.  Part of the choice the UK faces is of a Europe, divided and indebted, or trade in the developed and emerging economies of The Commonwealth.  By 2050 the population of The Commonwealth will have increased by 30%, whilst the EU will have dropped by 2%.  GDP growth in the Eurozone has amounted to just 0.7% in recent years, Commonwealth GDP grew by 5%.”

He made it absolutely clear that a future out of the EU and trading with the world was something to be aspired to, “Anyone who thinks that the economy of the nation that once created the largest empire in history will be suddenly laid to ruin upon leaving the EU is greatly mistaken, or having left will be friendless, doesn’t understand history or realise when push comes to shove how deep Commonwealth bonds are.

He wants a revival of the Commonwealth of Nations (British Commonwealth)?

“A future out of the EU and trading with the world” – the European Union, with or without the UK, comprises a significant proportion of world trade.

One of New Zealand’s biggest trading partners is Australia, also in the Commonwealth. We are currently trying to improve trade with Canada via the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Peters opposes.

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, also including:

  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Bangladesh
  • Tuvalu

We are already doing increasing amounts of trade with India and working towards a trade agreement.

But the European is one of the world’s biggest trading blocs, accounting for about 16.5% of the the world’s imports and exports. New Zealand is currently trying to get closer to that – see NZ – EU trade deal takes giant step.

Peters seems to be anti-China, and the other two biggest trading nations, the US and Japan, are part of the TPP that Peters wants to walk away from.

Dreaming of a return to the good old days (before Peters was middle aged) seems out of step with the world of trade in the 21st century.

From Peters’ speech:

“The British people stand on the cusp of an exciting future. It will not be easy to achieve that future.  But if there is one nation that can do it, it is the British”.

Peters wants to severely limit our trading options and bank on a country that turned it’s back on us fifty years ago?

The world is a far bigger place than the 28 EU member states.  Britain forgot that once, at it’s present cost.  Some of us believe that you won’t make that mistake again.

Afterall it was a Briton who centuries ago wrote this call to action:

“There comes a tide in the affairs of men, which if taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

Grabbing opportunities when they arise is something any Government should look to do, but it hardly makes sense to take a punt on an old world colonist while shunning the biggest trade opportunities currently available.

It was actually William Shakespeare (or whoever penned under that name) who wrote that for the character Brutus talking to Cassius in Julius Caesar.

How far back in time does Peters want us to go? Shakespearian England? The Roman Empire?

‘Yay the Commonwealth, stuff the rest’ may attract a few voters to UKIP and NZ First but as a modern trading strategy it seems nuts.

Anyone can quote some Shakespeare.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

If Peters wants to go back in time perhaps he could consider a proverb:

There’s no fool like an old fool.

Leave a comment


  1. So Winnie made a comment on something. It will be either; inaccurate; wilfully inaccurate or deliberately inaccurate. Take your pick.

    • Yeah – but it’s interesting to see him teaming up with UKIP dreaming of a grand old British Commonwealth trading group.

      Will that apply to open immigration within the Commonwealth too?

      Open borders with Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh?

      • artcroft

         /  15th May 2016

        According to this BBC article Britain already has an open border policy with the entire world, so that would just make it official.

      • Most politicians like to seperate open markets in money and goods from open markets in people, as though the 3 are not linked ! Winston no exception, nor is Nigel nor John Key and David Cameron !

        • David

           /  15th May 2016

          If you have a social welfare system, you can’t have open boarders. Just note too, open boarders were the norm prior to the 20th century.

          • Blazer

             /  15th May 2016

            at least boarders pay,-completely open borders however, borders on the irresponsible.

  2. Brown

     /  15th May 2016

    The flip side is the the EU may self destruct pretty quickly if Britain leaves – that tipping point thing. Europe in 20 years will not look like Europe today. I like to take advantage of anything that comes along but thhinking ahead is not stupid.

    • Britain may self destruct if they leave the EU.

      The EU may thrive without Britain.

      New Zealand would self destruct by limiting trade to Commonwealth countries.

      That sort of thinking ahead?

      • Blazer

         /  15th May 2016

        I remember the case for Britain using the Euro as their currency.Its impossible to find a member of the pro faction these days.As for trade,-nations are free to enter agreements without being bound and brainwashed by over arcing corporate interests as per the TTIP and the TPPA.

      • David

         /  15th May 2016

        “Britain may self destruct if they leave the EU.
        The EU may thrive without Britain.”

        The moon may be made of cheese.

  3. Gezza

     /  15th May 2016

    Not quite sure where Winston’s head is at on this. Maybe he’s hoping HRH QEII might hear of this oration & summon her Secretary, saying thusly:: “Who is this honourable gentleman from the former colonies? Have him attend upon us with alacrity and let us immediately dub him Sir Knight for his fealty.”

    • Blazer

       /  15th May 2016

      when they Knight an aussie pollmeister ,anythings possible.

      • Gezza

         /  15th May 2016

        It’s actually probably not a bad move – he’s just putting his hand up over there & waving it around & saying, “Hey guys … if you do do the Brexit thing – yoohoo … here we are … ” 😎

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  15th May 2016

    Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are also not EU members and seem to do perfectly well. I think PG is well out of his depth on this topic.


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