David Lange

Talking about legacies, what was David Lange’s?

Karl du Fresne runs Lange through an honest reassessment

Is it time for a reassessment of the David Lange legacy?

I ask that question for a couple of reasons. The first was a speech that Sir Gerald Hensley gave late last year.

Hensley was head of the Prime Minister?s Department under Lange and thus uniquely positioned to observe him. The picture he painted of Lange?s behaviour during the showdown with the United States over nuclear warships was not flattering.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I was delirious with pleasure when Lange?s Labour government was elected in 1984.

Sir Robert Muldoon had cast a malevolent shadow over New Zealand since 1975. He was a bully who succeeded politically by polarising New Zealanders along them-and-us lines, never more so than at the time of the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.

In Lange he faced, for the first time, an opponent he couldn?t handle. Lange seemed impervious to Muldoon?s method of attack, responding with sparkling eloquence and insouciant wit.

As prime minister, Lange appeared to champion New Zealand?s right to repudiate nuclear weapons. Many New Zealanders experienced a surge of nationalistic pride at the way he stood up to pressure from Washington to accept visits from American warships.

Peak pride came with Lange?s performance in the celebrated Oxford Union debate of 1985, when he argued that nuclear weapons were morally indefensible. He famously told his opponent, the American televangelist Jerry Falwell, that he could smell the uranium on Falwell?s breath.

Lange was in his element. He was a performer who loved to charm people with his humour and verbal dexterity. I was in Britain at the time and recall feeling quietly pleased that New Zealand and its charismatic prime minister were being noticed and admired internationally for taking an independent line.

But as Hensley has revealed, Lange was talking out both sides of his mouth ? saying one thing to New Zealanders and another to our allies.

In public, he was pledging to honour Labour?s commitment to ban nuclear weapons and nuclear propulsion. But behind the scenes, he was assuring America and our other Anzus treaty partner, Australia, that he would make the problem go away.

As Hensley tells it, the Americans were genuinely disposed to seek an amicable and mutually honourable solution, but in the end became so exasperated with Lange?s duplicity that they spat the dummy. He even kept his own Cabinet in the dark.

Read more »

Guest Post: Memorable Political Kiwi Quips and Quotes

Guest Post:?Sylvester Connor is main editor for the ConnorPost.com – Besides that?s he?s an entrepreneur in California and a legendary birder.? You can reach him at: [email protected]

 

 


Quotable Antipodeans

James and I have been assembling a book of populist quotations for distribution to subscribers of Connor Post and for sale at large. So it was kismet when Whale Oil blog provided us with the names of David Lange, Robert Muldoon and Winston Peters as New Zealand sources.

Lange, Muldoon and Peters are populists we might not have come across, due to the routine inattention given to Australasian thinkers in the northern hemisphere. But if the New Zealand school system is anything like the U.S.?s (alt-Marx-filtered pablum spoon-fed?but force-fed!?to history naifs pasteurised into PC multiculti drone bees), then even New Zealanders may need reminding of their proud past with these pols. (That?s the correct use of ?pride,? btw.)

www.stuff.co.nz620 ? 349Search by image
David Lange in front of the Beehive a month before he became prime minister…

Read more »

Lessons for Crazy Colin from David Lange

David Cohen writes at the NBR about some lessons for Colin Craig:

A jury has found that the onetime Conservative Party leader Colin Craig defamed Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams. The country has found out a lot more about Mr Craig?s style of office management and questionable poetic skills. So what was in the widely covered case for the media to discover?

Mr Craig?s whopping loss ? the jury ordered that he pay a plump $1.27m in total ? has been described as a classic defeat for the onetime political aspirant who has spent a significant amount of time in recent years launching his own defamation actions against some critics.

Indeed Mr Craig first came to many people?s attention in 2013 when he threatened a satirical news website with legal action after claiming it published a story designed, as a lawyer?s letter put it, ?to make him look ridiculous.?

On the face of it that action only seemed to underscore the proposition being argued against, as well as suggesting Mr Craig had no idea about the purpose of satire.

A year later, of course, he was at it again with another defamation suit, this time against the Green Party?s Russel Norman for having effectively accused the Conservative Party leader of being a conservative in his views on homosexuals and women ? at which point the expensive arguments seemed to be getting inexplicably ridiculous.

In life as in law, though, arguments are sometimes not about what they?re about.

Read more »

Trotter on Labour’s coming shuffle of the deck chairs

Chris Trotter returns to sensibility and explores the shuffling of the deck chairs on the sinking ship Labour.

SOMETIME THIS WEEK (the date keeps changing) Andrew Little will announce his Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. The refreshed line-up of senior Opposition spokespeople will be the electorate?s best guide as to who will be doing what in the next Labour-led government. Barring unforeseen circumstances, and unforgiveable cock-ups, Little?s promotions, reappointments and demotions will be the last such exercise before the 2017 General Election.

Very few New Zealanders will pay much attention to Little?s final choices. Labour?s ranks, thinned by successive and increasingly severe defeats, contains nobody upon whose shoulders the burden of the electorate?s hopes has? yet descended.

Labour has a talent pool as shallow as a carpark puddle in the heat of summer. I was discussing this yesterday?at lunch with the boys at church. They looked at National caucus and at Labour’s and came to the conclusion that even if a plane crashed with most of National’s cabinet aboard, there would still be capable people left in caucus to run the show. If Labour’s front two benches got cleaned out who would be left with any skills? ?? Read more »

Trotter is not that impressed with Andrew Little’s speech

Chris Trotter was asked by Andrew Little’s union minder to publish something about Little’s speech to Grey Power in Whanganui.

I bet Neale Jones spat his dinner all over his keyboard when he read what Trotter has written…it is not complimentary.

As you might imagine, I began the speech with high expectations, but, by the time I had ploughed through the first couple of pages, my mood had subsided to one of mild interest. It?s not that it was a bad speech. Indeed, it stands comparison with most of the speeches crafted by ministerial staffers working in the Beehive. Sadly, that is not a very high bar to clear.

I read Little’s speech too…it was dreadfully boring.

There were hilarious parts to it as well…like his claim that filthy foreigners with chinky sounding names were driving up interest rates…he must have missed the news on the drive to Whanganui that the Reserve Bank that very morning has reduced the Official Cash Rate to its lowest mark ever. Such is the idiocy of Andrew Little who constantly makes statements not based on facts.

Like so many of David Lange?s (Margaret Pope?s?) best lines, ?the power of decision? positively vibrates with political meaning. Little?s speechwriters recognised this, but were unable to unpack the significance of the phrase in a way that caused their boss?s text to come alive. Instead they opted to, rather mechanically, link the idea of decision-making to Labour?s stances on overseas speculators, foreign ownership, farm sales, the TPPA, refugees and climate change.

Read more »

Soper comments on the ludicrous suggestion that Key have a succession plan

Barry Soper has got it dead right as he discusses the ludicrous suggestion promulgated by Fran O’Sullivan and her little band of helpers at a newspaper that John Key needed to get a succession plan in place.

He suggests that Key won’t get a say, and whoever learns to count wins.

Politics is a numbers game. Numbers determine all sorts of things: whether a party makes it into Parliament in the first place, whether a party gets to govern, whether they’re successful with legislation and in terms of this argument, whether they have the numbers to lead.

If you can’t count then you should steer clear of politics.

When your numbers are up, or you use David Farrar to run your numbers like Bill English did then things go awry.

Business leaders in a survey say National should have a leadership succession plan. They of all people should know about numbers and they should also know that in politics the idea of a successor being anointed by a leader is virtually unheard of.

Think about it, David Lange wasn’t even in Parliament when Bill Rowling became Prime Minister on the death of Big Norm Kirk. And Rowling fought three elections before Lange managed the numbers to roll him. To be fair, he won more votes than National in his final two elections, but numbers in those days weren’t as important, in terms of votes cast, as they are today under MMP. ? Read more »

Is spying wrong?

Is spying wrong?

Well not when it is the left-wing doing it to political opponents, and using criminals to enable it.

But widely, no it is not. I almost never agree with Michael Field, especially over Fiji, but this may well be a watershed moment for both of us because I happen to agree with his column the other day about the spying revelation of Nicky Hager.

It is not paradise out there in the South Pacific and while our friendly neighbourhood might be democratic and understand rugby’s off-side rule, corruption, self-interest and idiocy stalks their capitals.

And dangerously surprising things like coups, civil war and mutinies happen, and they have a real and direct impact on New Zealand.

The Snowden Papers suggest spying in the South Pacific is something new, but the reality is that we have been spying on Pacific countries for decades.

Back in 1914 London asked New Zealand soldiers to invade German Samoa. We said yes, but asked if they could give us some details of German defences. London replied we would look it up in an encyclopaedia.

These days acting like that is not on.

Time-shift to today and pick a Pacific country that suddenly finds itself with people being killed, buildings on fire and assorted bad people breaking into police armouries ? as happened in the Solomon Islands.

New Zealand’s Special Air Service was on the way to save lives – what are they expected to do for useful intelligence, Google it?

As open as Pacific states can seem to be, it takes specialist knowledge and focus to know who the real players are.

Mobile phone metadata does not provide that.

Read more »

A reader emails about online voting

I am extremely concerned about the prospect of on-line voting. The suggestion that they are ?looking into on-line voting? for the 2017 election, scares the hell out of me for two reasons.

  1. Votes will be cast without research or consideration. A last minute ?click here? without any concept of what that actually delivers.
  2. 2014 election my 37year old stepdaughter with a very busy career went on-line and completed a questionnaire to help her decide who to vote for. The result was the Greens, so she voted accordingly. After the election she was disappointed with her vote as many Green policies were against her belief. The very thought of Laila Harre or Dotcoms influence in Government appalled her. Though she voted because she believes it is important to do so, she voted without understanding the MMP consequence. Lesson learnt.

How many people did just that? Asked a computer to decide their future and their political preference?

The democratic right to vote for a Government to represent us every 3 years should be taken more seriously than on-line polling or questionnaires. I do not suggest for 1 minute that it is a corrupt influence or process, however I suggest under MMP a computer cannot determine party coalition preference. Therefore it cannot be applied, and the result has dire consequences for NZ.

If a questionnaire was to determine my vote I strongly believe it would also recommend a Green Party vote. Why? ? Read more »

The Legend that is Tom Scott, and the absence of feared leaders

Alex Fensome?had ?chat with cartoonist Tom Scott

As a boy, Muldoon had been bullied by other children, and had learned to get his punch in first.

Scott found his depiction of Muldoon as a ridiculously short and fat man hilarious, but the prime minister was deeply wounded by it. It seemed to bring up many of the insecurities he hid so well.

For the rest of his parliamentary colleagues, though, even those in National, it was refreshing. “His colleagues would come up to me and say, ‘Tom, I loved the Muldoon cartoon, shove it up the little bastard’.”

About a year into his time at Parliament, Scott ran into the prime minister in the corridor. People think he made this story up, but he insists it is true.

Scott leans back in his chair and puts on the famous Muldoon accent. “Ah, Mr Scott, saw an article of yours in The Listener . . . didn’t know you could write.”

“I didn’t know you could read,” he replied.

Awesome. ? Worthy of Churchill and Thatcher. ? Read more »

Josie Pagani on Andrew Little’s challenges

Josie Pagani has some sound advice for Andrew Little.

I bet he doesn’t listen though, but he really needs to.

How many times have we seen shots of Labour party leaders declaring unity while standing in front of caucus members, smiling the kind of smile you produce by sucking air through your teeth?

Labour doesn’t need more protests of unity. It needs more open debate.

People used to join the Labour party for the policy fights. A contest of ideas was how you sorted ?good ideas from bad. Achievements like paid parental leave and the nuclear free policy were achieved only after advocates won the argument; Unity was earned by debate, not by shutting debate down and pretending there was no diversity of opinion on these issues.

You can’t have a contest of ideas unless you accept into the fold people with a range of views, and celebrate ideological breadth. Bill Rowling and David Lange were both early sceptics of the nuclear free policy; yet today publicly arguing for a minority position within the party is mistaken for disloyalty.

So Andrew Little?s first challenge is to change this culture.

That is so true. Labour has this tug the forelock, doff the cloth cap, kneel in obeisance?to the leader mentality that was beaten into them by Helen Clark and her stasi-like control of internal party debate. Those attitudes now need to be beaten out of them.

The 600,000 people who voted Labour a few months ago had nothing to do with this leadership contest. Most didn’t care because the election purported to be a contest between fifty shades of beige: ??fairness? and ?opportunity for all? as if anyone in Labour is in favour of unfairness and opportunity only for a wealthy few.

The exception was David Parker and Andrew Little differing over capital gains tax and the retirement age. Andrew Little wants to jettison Labour’s election policies on those issues. He will now have to respond to Parker’s question – if not a CGT, then what? Not forgetting the CGT is more popular in the polls than Labour right now.

Read more »

×