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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Craig, Key and Brash: Out of date, out of touch and out of time!

Usually I have several ideas for posts (still working on Asia and others) on the go and as I am moving house this weekend (along with two kids and a cat) those ideas have been sitting on the back burner while I stuff things into boxes and make arrangements.

But after the recent events of last week in the fantasy play space we call NZ politics where three idiots called forth and highlighted themselves as politically brain dead I think it is worth taking the time out to comment.

And the trio of twits I am referring to is of course John “fairy dust” Key; Colin “magic thys” Craig and Don “Cockroach” Brash.

First there was Colin Craig, who in the course of his defamation trial was, unsurprisingly, found to be guilty, but also described as behaving in a manner towards his former press secretary which drove straight through Creepytown, without stopping to get an ice cream for the kids, and down the dirty back road to Predatorville (where he currently resides).

Describing someone as “like a sister” and then barraging her with various letters, emails and texts of a lewd and inappropriate nature is a strange way to treat ones sister (unless of course you’re Colin Craig or some member of a freaky religious sect).

Further information reveals a Colin Craig that can’t even follow a simple confidentiality agreement as he breached it by speaking out against his former press secretary on 12 occasions!

And if that were not enough, the ruling from the Human Rights Review Tribunal last year found Craig had “abused his power and wealth” in breaching the confidentiality agreement.

All of this paints the picture of a man who not only was unable to keep his sexual urges within the perimeter of his marriage but who also used his wealth and privilege to act in a predatory manner towards the target of his affections (weather she wanted them or not).

Perhaps at one time, Craig and MacGregor did have something, but regardless it is clear even if true once later MacGregor wanted no part of it. But Craig would not take no for an answer and kept on using his power and position as a cloak for activities which have now exposed him as a lot less like a loving, dedicated husband in a happy marriage and more like some Cosbyesqe prototype who kept on coming no matter what his victim wanted.

But if that were not enough Craig has vowed to fight on and defend his innocence, and adding the sugar frosted sprinkles to this turd Twinkie is Barry Soper describing him as Bill Clinton like, but in a good way (ie surviving a sexual scandal and not being a serial sexual philanderer or abusing his power for sexual gratification), and possibly returning to politics supported by his wife Helen (who stood by him like Hillary to his Bill; although I think Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin would be a better analogy).

And it’s that last paragraph of mine which is the real crux of the problem with Craig. Power and privilege found to have done wrong but instead of learning the lesson it plows on using its weight and bulk to try and force reality to dance to its dictates no matter how absurd it looks or the damage it does (both collateral or to itself).

Colin Craig returning to the Conservative Party would be nothing more than a doom struck scenario of a man with too much money and not enough morals (or brains).

I’m sure the Conservatives would like to keep being funded by Craig but their willingness to give evidence against him shows that they probably don’t want Craig’s creepy face fronting the party in the future.

Craig has smeared his filth all over himself so much that few individuals (who might believe they are “conservative”) are going to want to be stained by a guy whose actions openly mock conservative ideals such as family values, the institution of marriage and respect for the law.

No Craig gets to keep his money and possibly his marriage but I suspect that he won’t be coming back to politics except as a wiener like joke and won’t be getting any comfort in the marital bed for a long long time.

Next up is Don Brash; ex reserve bank governor, ex leader of the National Party, ex leader of Act and now spokesperson for the Hobson Pledge.

Brash’s announcement last week that the Treaty was defunct and Hobson's words superseded the document, all it stood for probably hit the right note with a few individuals in the “bloody Maori” crowd of voters but if he was hoping for another reaction (ie monumental poll jump) like his infamous Orewa speech of a decade ago he was surely disappointed.

The groups message of “equality before the law” as a way to claim Maori have some sort of legal advantage sounds clearly deceitful when there are plenty examples of Maori clearly not being equal before the law (just the fact that Maori are 15% of the population but are 50% of the NZ prison population makes a mockery of that message, although I am sure many Maori would agree with the sentiment of wanting to be treated equally before the law).

As more than one commentator pointed out, times have changed and the Brash of the Orewa speech is not the same Brash of Hobsons pledge.

Brash had some political respectability and legitimacy in 2004 but he has neither in 2016 where he is now a byword for grubby politics, racism and elite privilege.

The Brash of 2004 had not yet been exposed by Nicky Hager in The Hollow Men, had not lead his party to electoral defeat, not staged a coup to take over ACT and in general been revealed to be little more than a human glove puppet for some dark agenda.

And the timing of his announcement has all the hall marks of a flawed brain trust thinking that playing the race card in the wake of the Kermandec Sanctuary blow-up, would be the perfect time to play said card and tap into all that Pakeha angst that it was stirring up except there was no real angst and the issue has calmed down for the time being. Retrospectively they may be wishing that they could crawl back under their rock but given the mind set of such individuals probably not.

The group itself does have a website and its who’s who page is composed of a weird combination of all white (with the exception of one who claims some Maori heritage), all old ex-business, academia and ex security/police who are all far past middle age.

Contrast the aged members of this wretched group with the stock photos of a group of ethnically diverse young people on the front page holding New Zealand flag and smiling and you suddenly realize what you’re looking at: a time capsule from a past age.

The Hobsons Pledge is a relic to that time when white NZ, and its views, were dominant, Bastion Point and the Springbok Tour had not yet happened and Ray Columbus and the Invaders were still on the charts.

It’s the desperate attempt by an entitled few to create a time machine to try take NZ back to when people like them were in charge and Maori voices and views were neither seen nor heard (except on postcards and those mock villages for tourists).

And Brash fronting this odious little clique is obviously not by accident, he is the only prominent member of the group and the only one with any name recognition to take it and its message out beyond just another voice in the wilderness of talk-back radio.

Yet again, like Colin Craig, Brash is pushing on with his message in the face of reality (NZ having accepted its bi-cultural status and its multi-cultural mix) no matter what people say, and the people have been saying a lot.

From Chris Trotter (giving a very clear idea of what we could expect if the treaty was repealed) to Barry Soper* (simply labeling Brash a political “cockroach”) the denouncement of The Hobson Pledge and its attempt to rewrite history has been far reaching and also followed by the immediate dismissal of its hollow spokesman as just another disgusting pest scuttling across the nations kitchen floor in the middle of the night.

Finally we get to our beloved PM, caught like a sewer rat in the headlights, when pressed to commit to reducing child poverty numbers by this time next year.

Again, we get another, politician, ignoring reality, this time by claiming the numbers are “airy fairy” and therefore not able to be committed to, when the government has pledged itself to the far more ambiguous and “airy fairy” goal of NZ being predator free by 2050.

Key of course knows that child poverty is an issue, he committed the government to doing something about it in 2014 after the election, but he also knows that agreeing to a meet a target by a date only a month out from general election he is handing all and sundry a stick by which to beat him with because he has no intention of doing anything about child poverty.

Because for John Key to actually do anything about child poverty would require pulling up a lot of the planks in Nationals rickety policy shack (like the housing hernia for example) as many contribute to child poverty, which he will never do, in part because he has shown he just does not care but also that’s what you get when you have a merchant banker as leader of your country who will sacrifice anyone in the name of the economy.

And as Jo Moir points out he is on the “wrong side of the debate” in this, as he is on many things and it’s here that our child "friendly" PM, Colin Craig and Don Brash all converge in a horrid mix of out of date attitudes, arrogance and the kind of hubris that only gratuitous wealth can create (although Key has no grubby marital infidelities that we know about like Brash and Craig).

It is, in a nutshell, your 1% elite impotently shouting out what they want to happen when no one is listening, clinging to attitudes that are so far out of date that they appear positively medieval and clearly hoping to return to what they would euphemistically term “the good old days”.

The positive thing about all of this is when a faux Christian politician is outed as lecherous creep with out of date attitudes and made to pay the largest defamation settlement in NZ history; the zombie shell of a failed politician touting racist claptrap as a front for backwards looking group is dismissed immediately as out of touch with reality; and an economic conman masquerading as a political leader is reviled as willing to sell children (the nation’s future) down the line to protect his flawed economic model you know the zeitgeist (and time itself) is against them and the people they represent.

The reality is that the New Zealand these three white, privileged males represent is on its way out, if not already gone and their behavior is the rear guard action of a small minority who used to have power and things going all their way but who no longer represent a majority or an acceptable point of view and all they have left are weasel words and an Emperor’s New Clothes attitude.

Now back to moving house.

*-To be fair to Soper, his article he really did not seem to be bashing brash as much as the cockroach label suggested, by suggesting Brash was a political survivor (like cockroaches after a nuclear war), but still there had to be a better creature to compare him to than a cockroach.


  1. The problem with the Hobson's Pledge Trust is that they don't know our history and don't understand te reo. Either that or they are deliberately misrepresenting Hobson's words. They say that Hobson's "He iwi tahi tatou" translates as "We are now one people" which anyone with even a modest knowledge of te reo will realize is not the case. The word "now" has been inserted into the English "translation" because it fits the political purposes of the Trust. Leave it out and Hobson's words have very different connotations. Similarly the Trust misrepresents the word "rangatiratanga" as "right of ownership" when it can be shown by reference to contemporaneous Maori language documents that in 1840 it denoted absolute sovereign authority, which was reserved to the Chiefs in the Maori language version of the Treaty.

    But despite their ignorance (or duplicity as the case may be) expect Hobson's Pledge to gain traction, and be prepared for the day when a New Zealand government tears up the Treaty for a second time. Politics does not proceed according to the dictates of either scholarship or moral philosophy and Don Brash represents the feelings of a substantial minority of New Zealanders, if not a majority, on this issue. It would be unwise to assume that circumstances could not arise in which a majority of parliament votes to disestablish Te Puni Kokiri, the Maori seats, and all other institutions of government specifically directed towards representing or furthering the interests of Maori.

  2. The left has responded to Hobson's Pledge with a good deal of abuse (most of it racist, sexist and ageist as in "male, pale and stale") and very little in the way of objective critical analysis. It will have to lift its game considerably if it is not to bring down another crushing defeat such as it suffered at the hands of Don Brash and his friends under the Lange-Douglas Labour government in the 1980s.

  3. Geoff: My Te Reo is pretty poor so thanks for the translation.

    As for the "male, pale and stale" it is a shallow assessment but it also happens to be true.

    The minority that Brash claims to represent are there but I doubt few would want to vote for him or get behind the actual message, its a rather ugly one and while the Treaty has its issues removing it (or attempting to remove it) would draw down a lot more problems than removing it would fix (both national and international condemnation to start) as well as providing a clear rally point for any (Maori and Pakeha) that opposed it.

    For the Treaty to be removed it would have to go hand in hand with a government ready and willing to repeal a lot of other things as well because the backlash would be ferocious and dissent would be fully justified.

    But that may have to be a point of disagreement between us. I see Brash's actions as the last gasps of a dying minority not a resurgence.

  4. I have a sense of deja vu. When Brash and Rod Deane and a handful of others were campaigning for the sale of state assets, globalisation and deregulation in the late 1970s the left wrote them off as representatives of a tiny unrepresentative political minority which had taken an extreme ideological position. All true. But circumstances changed so quickly that within the space of ten years their programme had been largely implemented.
    Look at the forces at work now. Who would push for a change to the Treaty arrangements? Who might passively go along with it? How coherent would the opposition be? You might find some surprises in there if you were to look closely at the objective realities.
    Abusing Brash for his ethnicity, gender and age is the easy way out. Even his questionable personal moral values are not the central issue. The left has to start thinking rationally, or it will take a drubbing as it did in 1984.
    I like to think that some of us will be OK, because we at least can see what is coming at us.

  5. Its an interesting point Geoff. Given what happened back then it would appear that the right wing agenda will be enacted by Andrew Little and Co in Labour in the future (which is a scary thought), which if it did not have a historical precedent would be almost a joke but is sadly very very true.

    There is one difference though that is clear and that while in the 1970s globalisation and neo-liberalism were palatable theories because they were untested we have now had 30 plus years of them and the appeal of such thoughts is a lot less.

    That still leaves the actual idea that the treaty could be removed and thats an area that you will know more about than I but I could not imagine anything which would unite Maori more or get them willing to act than removing the treaty.

    If we look at the crux of the issue the problem (at least as I see it) is less the issue of Maori entitlement but tribal entitlement. There are many Maori (those often referred to as Urban Maori and others) who may never see any real benefit from all the treaty settlements that the government does with various tribes.

    What they may see is various members of the tribal leadership doing well off the settlements or sections of the tribe but as long as the connection between Maori over/under represented in various key demographics continues the treaty remains the best means for addressing those by allowing greater representation for Maori at various levels.

    So it seems that the issue of some people clearly doing well of the treaty (but not all) and Maori and how well they as a people/group/demographic as a whole are two separate issues but intractably linked via the treaty.

    Addressing the issues of sections of a tribe not doing well while others make hay o a treaty settlement would be a issue which would get a lot more appeal from pakeha in NZ than an outright attack on Maori and the idea of one law for all. That would be an area which would also be easier to fix legislatively.

    How that issue is resolved I do not know but as I stated on KP its an issue that has interested me more and more lately and recent events in politics (resurgent Maori Party, the Kermandec issue and others) seems to show a resurgence in Maori politics and issues in general.

    While an attack ion the treaty would find some supporters it would also help galvanism the opposition.

    But I could be wrong, I am willing to admit that.

  6. You are not wrong, EA the political situation within Maoridom is complex - compare the situations of a successful lawyer in Wellington, an unemployed youth in Ruatoria, a P addicted mum in Otara, a logging contractor in Whakatane, a rising academic in Auckland etc etc - the range is huge. Outside of Maoridom, what about the dispossessed Pakeha working class families, the Korean, Chinese or Indian immigrants anxious for the substance of citizenship - how will they react to the appeal of Hobson's pledge? These are the sort of questions we need to ask before we can start to give answers.

  7. We had a discussion of this type at work recently and the conclusion we reached was that in the sense of the treaty NZ is bi-cultural but in its actual makeup its multi-cultural.

    I have not yet looked into this area but something that i do want to dig into is the area of how any benefit (financial or otherwise) from any treaty settlement is meted out to members of a tribe and how exactly is membership in a tribe defined?

    If we could clearly show who gets what from a treaty settlement it would probably take the wind out of the sails of the "Maori entitlement" argument and refocus that lens on the actual individual tribes themselves and what they get from a settlement.

    It might also prove or disprove the idea of Maori entitlement BUT show exactly who is getting entitled. One of the key parts of my past and current work in government is "follow the money"

    If you know anything about it that would be great to hear.

  8. Multicultural does not mean a lot. All nations are multicultural in some way or other, because the range of possible and actual cultural adaptations is infinitely large. Bi-cultural does have meaning however, because it says that there are two contending cultures each of which aspires or pretends to be the authentic, legitimate and authorised culture of the nation.

    A bi-cultural or seriously multicultural society which exists within the framework of a unitary state is inherently unstable as there will always be tension between competing cultures at the point where state and culture meet. So the only sound basis for a bicultural or multicultural Aotearoa would be a confederation of Maori, European, and whatever other peoples and cultures wish to be an identifiable part of the mix.

    Your advice to "follow the money" is opportune. Here in Rotorua we have had a long-standing conflict with a Council controlled organisation which had been challenging our land rights, both on the ground and in court over a period of years from 2000 to 2009. They took us to court twice, and lost twice. In the second court battle they put seventeen Chapman Tripp lawyers up against our much smaller team of a few forest labourers and housewives whose only education in the law came from downloading Acts of Parliament from the internet and feverishly studying them in the weeks prior to the court hearing.

    We have since discovered that the CCO spent $386,795.01 on the services of the seventeen Chapman Tripp lawyers (the final total cost came to over $600,000, possibly much closer to $1 million) and so we began to ask ourselves how the hell a CCO can get that kind of money for the purpose of sticking it to a bunch of peasants.

    When we decided to "follow the money" the well-concealed transaction trail led us from the CCO to the Council, and from the Council to a third party which was channeling money via a BNZ loan facility to Council and from there to the CCO. That investigation took us the best part of a year (our knowledge of accounting being no better than our understanding of the law) and wasted a lot of time which we could have more profitably spent on our kumara plantations.

    The point is that the media is always happy to report the money paid out in Treaty Settlements, and where it ends up, as it should. But it won't report vast sums of money being spent to legally harass ordinary folk going about their lawful business on their own land. If the people who conduct this kind of vendetta against their "fellow New Zealanders" truly believe "He iwi tahi tatou" they have a very strange way of showing it.

  9. Geoff: Sorry for not following this up earlier but that's a very interesting story. I am surprised that the media did not want to follow that up. You should see what you can do.

  10. Pablo at Kiwipolitico has made the good point that we don't have to debate every issue, and we don't have to take up every opportunity to skirmish with opposing forces. In this case, we have applied considerable time and effort to finding out what lay behind these disputes. We know that the first case, in 2000, was brought in a bid to appropriate our land rights, and the second, in 2009, was a proxy dispute designed to incite violence. Contrary to initial expectations, it turned out that the second action needed to succeed in law before it could succeed in provoking violent resistance, which is why a phalanx of 17 lawyers from Chapman Tripp, plus a handful more from other law firms, were employed. We also know that when this kind of sovereignty issue erupts again we will not be dealing with lawyers bearing precedents. So our priority now is to determine how we would deal with future threats of a quite different order, and to prepare ourselves for them. Revealing the truth of what happened in 2009 to the wider public of New Zealand would be a major undertaking yielding limited benefits, and therefore is not a priority.