No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Chris Trotter

Generational Toxicity

with 3 comments

Over on the Bowalley Road blog Chris Trotter has really been letting the words flow wildly in relation to the news of the AUKUS pact that has been announced, with two articles in one week on the subject.

They’re the usual combination of themes one would expect from his Lefty age group: pro-China, anti-US, anti-nuclear, fears of a new Cold War, fears of NZ getting sucked back into another “Anglo Saxon Imperialist” world and so forth.

But it was actually this passage that intrigued me:

It is also quite possible that, by 2023, the United States will be embroiled in domestic strife bordering on civil-war. 

Followed by a lot of ignorant guff about the USA and the Republican Party. Now I’m not averse to the arguments about a possible second Civil War in the USA: it’s increasingly being discussed in non-fringe circles on both the American Left and Right. Even in popular culture I saw the “comedian” Sarah Silverman talking the other day about the nation splitting up because Democrat and Republican voters increasingly cannot stand dealing with eachother.

But there’s another aspect of this that should be taken account of: the growing war between the generations. Specifically between the Baby Boomers and … every other generation: Gen-X, Millennials and Gen-Z. Admittedly this more of a US thing than elsewhere: I don’t think NZ Baby Boomers ever fitted the label of being the “Me Generation” after Tom Wolfe’s famous 1976 article.

I’ve already covered some of this in two posts, Ok Boomer and Hand over the $35 trillion, you old fart, but a recent article by a Baby Boomer in the New York Post should be more of an eye-opener for Boomers, Millennials’ extreme hatred for Baby Boomers is totally unjustified:

Baby boomers who cried “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30” during the Vietnam War should be scared to death of millennials. Because, at least among the Twitterati, they hate us — they really, really hate us.

Last week I took a beating from younger readers over an essay I wrote lamenting the decline of the “power lunch.” Although it only partly blamed the phenomenon on millennial habits — e.g., preferring avocado and kale to beef and baked potatoes — hundreds of thousands on Twitter either posted or retweeted such insults as “Old man yells at lunch table” (I’m 69), “What’s it like to be an antique?” and “We’re the ones doing the actual lunches while you’re having three-martini lunches.”

Millennials (and to some extent their Gen-X and Gen-Z brethren) hate their elders with a ferocity never before seen in our culture.

Generation gaps will always be with us. Historian Marc Wortman found a generational split over sending young men off to war way back in 1941. But unlike those of us who came of age in the 1960s-early 1970s, who merely disapproved of our elders’ “colonialist” wars and shag rugs, millennials (born between 1980-1994) can’t stand the air we boomers breathe.

Young hippies outdoors.

To some extent? This guy should go to some of the chat areas of Reddit and other non-FaceTwit Social Media.

He’ll quickly discover that Gen-Z are right up there on bringing the hate and Gen-X even more so given their proximity in time. Few things piss off X’rs more than being pegged as Boomers by being born in the 1960’s, as if we remember Woodstock and “Free Love”.

Unfortunately the article then delves into the reasons why and thus demonstrates even more how Boomers just don’t get it.

But if they spent more time studying actual history, which can’t easily be found on iPhones, they’d know that boomers were, and remain, the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known.

FFS. He thinks this is because of Greta Thunderhead and her influence on 16 year olds re Climate Charge.

Oh no, dear fellow, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s only one sentence where he alludes to just one thing stemming from that wonderful “socially conscious” generation:

Maybe too much so — our universities’ overwhelmingly “progressive” agendas originated in the 1960s and have become more dominant ever since.

That’s because the Boomers who were the radical students of the late 60’s/early 70’s now dominate those universities as professors and administrators, and are hard at work teaching the next generations the same stuff, without any opposing arguments or ideas.

Being “the most socially and environmentally conscious generation America ever has ever known” isn’t an excuse or a defense, it’s an unwitting confession of guilt.

What this guy and the millions of Boomers like him miss is that this shite has now spread into every other part of the USA: the MSM, entertainment, government, bureaucracies and even corporates and the military.

I know of no American member of the younger generations who thinks that Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid will be there for them in their dotage of the late 21st century. Or a military that can actually win a war either. Not to mention housing costs, energy costs, career progression, jobs in general or the chance of getting married and raising a family because it’s so bloody expensive in more ways than just dollars.

What he also misses is that these younger generations, or at least a good chunk of them, might be objecting to having had these institutions trashed by the ideas of a generation that aggressively devalued the traditional things on which they rested, even as there are members of Gen-X/Millennial that have learned from their forebears and joined in with the trashing, as this guy points out:

As a college professor for over 35 years, I’ve gotten to know three generations of students: Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980), the Millennials (1981-1996), and now Gen Z (1997-2012). And because I teach rhetoric, I’ve read thousands of their papers, providing substantial insight into the way they think.

In general, however, I found that Millennials presented unique challenges. They were, as a group, the most entitled, judgmental, and arrogant of all the students I’ve taught, often basing an inflated sense of self-importance on scanty evidence.

Essentially, they are the “participation trophy” generation, the unwitting victims of countless artificial “self-esteem building” experiments by the education establishment, not to mention their own parents.

Ouch. But there is hope:

There is another generation of bright young people — Gen Z — following right on their heels and therein may lie our temporal salvation.

In comparison to their Millennial predecessors, my Gen Z students tend to be more open-minded, more interested in facts and logic, more inclined to question the status quo…

That partially explains the Fuck Joe Biden chants that have swept across college football stadiums in the last few weeks and even spread to the Yankees-Mets game in NYC of all places.

They also take a more nuanced view of history and are inherently distrustful of ideologues on either side. 

Let’s hope so, and that inheritances will add up to avoiding a different type of American Civil War.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 21, 2021 at 1:09 pm

A fatal lack of political awareness

The new blog site from Bassett, Brash and Hide has barely gotten underway when Don Brash reveals the unworldly naivety that destroyed his political career.

In his column, The US is in a dangerous place, Brash, after waxing lyrical about his times in the USA from when he was a young man to when he was working there, ended with a flourish:

What depresses me is not that Trump is an evil bastard but rather that there are still tens of millions of Americans who think that he is God’s gift to creation, and that he is the last bastion against communism. The US is in a very dark place.

As one of our commentators noted after reading this:

I find Brash’s lack of empathy for Trump especially galling.

I had to chuckle about that, given that much the same people who despised and destroyed Brash are among those who hate Trump, and for much the same reasons. Ever the academic, Brash never was much of a politician in making such judgements and as a result will be mystified by Chris Trotter’s latest column, Trump’s Surprisingly Large Army Of New Zealand Supporters, where he speculates on where the dangerous Brash would have taken this country had he won the knife-edge election of 2005:

Brash could very easily have become prime minister. And what a prime minister he would have been! The National leader and his party were committed to returning the Treaty of Waitangi to history’s glass case. The Maori seats were marked down for abolition, and all race-based references were to be expunged from the statute books. In the parlance of present-day “progressives”, Brash’s would have been a “ neo-colonialist”, “white supremacist” government.

Not to put too fine a point upon it, all hell would have broken loose.

It does not require too large a slice of the Devil’s imagination to envisage Brash and his allies being left with little alternative but to mobilise their “silent majority” of supporters against the fury his policies had unleashed in the streets. Protest action that resulted in serious property damage or, even worse, to loss of life, would have left him with even fewer choices. Calling-in the military to support the civil power would likely have become necessary quite quickly – with all-too-predictable results. A snap election, called to provide ex-post-facto validation for the emergency powers taken by the government to quell the unrest (as happened following the 1951 Waterfront Dispute) would, almost certainly, have delivered National a stunning victory. New Zealanders would have struggled to recognise the angry mess their country had become.

Chris’s lurid imagination always flies back to 1951 when talking of NZ, in exactly the same way he can never escape his teenage Boomer joy at Norman Kirk’s election and his horror about Pinochet. And I note that this is his second post in row to bang away about the potential threat of Trumpism in NZ. Ironic given how often Trotter has warned of the dangers of the Left abandoning the traditional working class.

Meantime, poor old Don will eventually read that Trotter piece and be left sputtering at his being compared to “an evil bastard” and classed as the now inevitable “White Supremacist“. But that was always Don’s fate, he never realised it and he apparently still doesn’t. In a world where he claims that you should see past skin colour and not judge people on that basis, Don has not realised that in the Nineteen Eighty Four world of Critical Race Theory such is what is now described as racism.

Could be worse. He could have been compared to You Know Who. Most other Right Wing politicians are sooner or later.

Projection – in IMAX, with Dolby Surround

Hat tip to the great Bernard Black of Black Books for that quote.

There has already been some discussion on our usual Friday post about one of dear old Chris Trotter’s latest outside loops of fancy flight regarding the 1st Adern-Collins debate.

But his latest post is even funnier in having a crack at the various fears that GOP voters in the USA have of a Biden victory. Naturally in any discussion of Trump the context is Hitler. I’ve already left a comment but since he does not always post mine I thought I’ll put something up here instead.

Trump is your President

What I’ve pointed out to Chris is that this is projection of the most obvious kind. The last four years have seen the most hysterical, insane reactions and attacks on any US President in my lifetime. Far worse than the years of BushChimpHitler. Off the charts combinations of conspiracy theories, hidden figures pulling the strings and the scorched earth destruction of all that is precious and holy to the American left.

As just one early example, here is a clip of an episode opening from the US TV series, American Horror Story. When my kids showed this to me I at first assumed that it was merely a brilliant parody.

Sadly no. The writers, director, producers and actors were absolutely serious and really thought all of this – and still do. Watch it; you’ll be laughing for the rest of the day.

I should probably drop the link to Chris.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 25, 2020 at 10:55 am

History never repeats?

Oh yes it bloody well does, and with more than rhyming Mr Twain.

In The Vet’s post the other day, What Has Louisa Wall Done To Offend?, he made the point that her being challenged for her seat from within the Labour Party was a mystery given that she ticks so many boxes for them: Maori, Female, Lesbian, smart, high achiever in sport, academia and now politics…

Amidst much discussion some points were made about Chris Trotter’s constant raging against the Identity Politics Warriors like Wall messing up his beloved Class Warfare purity that he thinks Labour should return to. I was reminded of a piece of satire that Danyl McLauchlan wrote a few years ago on his old blog, The DimPost. Once he started writing serious stuff for places like The Spinoff he made his blog private, but thanks to The Wayback Machine, a commentator’s suggestion, and more searching than I usually care to do, I found it: Chris Trotter on Party Central (2010):

So “Party Central” is no longer central to the party that is central to the party at the centre of our party politics. 

Am I the only Kiwi who experiences tightness in my jaw and a numb feeling in my left-arm when I contemplate the disarray that has befallen Auckland governance?

we have all supped from the golden poison chalice of satanic robot run regional and local government only to find ourselves regaining conciousness yet again in our neighbour’s toolshed with our clothes drenched in urine.

Danyl really should try satire again, although it may be that he can find no one to pay for it. But it was the next section that I remembered the best:

It was the radical right-wing feminist government of William Massey that spread open the labile pink floodgates of change and swept away the egalitarian order in a wave of capitalist frenzy, separatist Maori entitlement and so-called-women who threaten to press charges because that is what their liberal puppetmasters at our elitist universities have brainwashed them to do. 

Like most real New Zealanders I yearn for the days when our great little country was ruled by stocky, moustached trade-unionists but I fear that those days are gone forever, swept away by a great wave that swept everything away like a wave.

During my history search I found a 2014 article by Trotter advocating pretty much the treatment that Wall is getting, Labour’s Caucus Still In Charge, where he admiringly quotes Matt McCarten from 1988:

“So we should call a special conference of the party and expel them … The Labour Party made a mistake selecting these people so sack them. Throw them out and let them stand against us. They’ll lose and the Labour Party can rebuild itself.”

To be fair, Chris appears to now be in total thrall to “the labile pink floodgates of change“. Funny how  winning elections and obtaining a measure of power can do that.

Speaking of which, during my search I also found an old comment of mine from Kiwiblog in 2011, in a thread which dealt with us losing people to a more successful Australia and DPF’s lament that we need to boost productivity and lift wages.

Shorter message: Vote for us because we suck less than the other guys.

Actually that’s the entire National message as NZ slowly reverses into the 21st century. And it’s an effective one as they undoubtedly know; the smug, cynical response being who else are you going to vote for? 

And they’re correct.

As far as the media coverage is concerned I say to all lefties, welcome to our world circa 2000-2005. The shallow, pathetic coverage of stories combined with gushing over various aspects of [PM Key] is really very little different than in Clark’s time. Sure, there are the blogs but they aren’t there yet in supporting a narrative the way the old MSM still can. 

But don’t worry. National and Key will tire sooner or later, Labour will find some “new” material as candidates and even a fresh leader, the pendulum will swing and you will find yourselves benefiting from exactly the same uselessness of media coverage. 

Yeah. History repeats all right.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm

And Now For Something Completely Different

That old line from Monty Python is entirely appropriate to this Op because the Python’s used it to mock the culture of Britain as a bunch of conformist old farts, or even conformist young farts, such as the announcers on the British kid’s show Blue Peter.

In this case it’s an Old Fart, Chris Trotter, complaining about yet another dying aspect of New Zealand culture, Radio New Zealand (or RNZ as the young marketing gurus have it). Chris unloads with his piece, Integrating Seamlessly With The Lowest Common Denominator, and starts with the  recent in-house marketing presentation of how RNZ sees its audiences – The Ten New Zealanders – which they rather foolishly decided to make public.

To be fair this is what marketing is all about and always has been; the professional, semi-rational, semi-mathematical slicing and dicing of humans into groups for the purposes of selling them products and services. Something we all do every day instinctively, as explained by George Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air:

Ryan: Never get behind old people. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left…

Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip-on shoes. God love ’em.

Natalie: That’s racist.

Ryan: I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.

Anyway, Chris goes on of his by-now-familiar riffs about our changing nation, particularly when it comes to changing our government institutions, like RNZ:

Professionalism is not highly valued in these presentations. Rather, it is not-so-subtly suggested that such considerations might actually be part of the problem with RNZ. Certainly, there is a fairly obvious prejudice against the high-culture featured on RNZ Concert. Such programming seems to be regarded as evidence of Pakeha elitism at work. In the material presented to the board, this is framed as being, if not a “bad thing”, then most certainly as “something to be avoided”.

High Culture“? Dude, that be a trigger word. Of course it’s to be avoided in RNZ’s brave new world.

… the rolling-out of its “Music Strategy” was something between an old-fashioned Soviet purge and an old-fashioned Bolshevik coup. The quiet and deeply knowledgeable professionals at RNZ Concert headquarters in Wellington were to receive the career equivalent of a bullet in the back of the head, while the Auckland studios of RNZ were to be taken over by the woke graduates of the nation’s “communication studies” courses…

I actually feel a little sorry to be laughing at Chris a on this matter, because I quite agree with him.

But so what?

The reason I’m laughing is that this is such a classic example of how future socialism fails Old Socialists. The problem he refuses to see is that this is always what happens to their beloved Government Institutions over time.

For a start, they’re supposed to be “public” and serve everybody, but they fail to do so because such a utopian thing is as impossible to achieve as 100% energy conversion.

Second, they always get captured by a sub-set of the population. In the case of RNZ’s Concert Program that sub-set was the 200,000 or so people in this country who love Classical music and they’ve had a pretty good run over several decades. Now they’re about to be replaced by another sub-set, a larger and younger one, who are going to take it over and replace it with “their” music and people. Yet another subset of the problem all democracies wrestle with: reflecting the will of the majority.

Third, the new group, or perhaps the generation just ahead of them – Gen X’rs – are going to also use the platform to push all the social themes they approve of, in this case probably all the “woke” themes that already provide such a rich diet of daily insanity for our amusement.

All three things are what happens to government institutions, especially ones focused not on basic matters like defence, law enforcement and even health but “social goods”. Chris’s definition of such a good – “high culture” – is not accepted as such by the younger voters, tax payers, and listeners, and they’ve already made that clear for decades in the private sector world.

I’m also sorry to go all Libertarian on Chris – especally since I have some fundamental disagreements with them – but in this case and many others their criticisms of Big Government are right on target. The bigger, more powerful and more dominant the government institution the more important it becomes to control it “politically” in ways and meanings far beyond a mere matter of the partisanship of who controls the Treasury benches.

If you don’t want to get “a bullet in the back of the head”, don’t give said government institutions so much power, even if you start off thinking that you’re doing it for the good of everyone. That’s how this goes on matters large (USSR) and small (RNZ), deadly (NKVD) and obscure (Classical Music).

In the case of RNZ it’s time to privatise it and place it beyond the control of such groups of we-know-best technocrats working “for the public good“. You may not like the resulting production out of the free enterprise interplay of music producers, distributors and consumers – God knows the average Classical listener has made it clear over the last fifty years that they really don’t – but clearly you’re going to like what you’ll soon be getting from RNZ even less than what you’re getting now.

And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your tax dollars are not going to support the likes of rapper Tom Scott singing about raping Key’s daughter.

Welcome to my world.

This is an argument that Chris and company have dismissed because it’s very much a Right-Wing idea, and the sneering claims about the qualitative superiority of RNZ National have always been accompanied by the sly dig that the Left have the numbers and there’s nothing the Right can do about it. Also Lefties are forced to support the NZ military so “suck it up Righties” is the message: you want to change RNZ, get the votes (MUHAHAHAHAHA).

But of course what we’re seeing here is the classic case of one’s own ox being gored, with at least one group of Leftists unhappy that one of “their” institutions is being taken over by people of whom they do not approve but who have the votes. And who are on the right side of history no less, as the “Youf” always are.

Chris and others voted to create this institution and support it with tax payer money. Did they really think that other voters would not one day appear, grow in numbers and political power, slide into the grooves of power controlling such institutions and use them to their own ends while waving goodbye to the past preferences of the likes of Chris as the older generation slips beneath the earth?
It would seem so. He mentions Stalin but never thinks of the obvious parallels.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 14, 2020 at 5:11 am


Chris Trotter’s latest post on Bowalley Road here will not be received well in the Beehive … let ‘she’ who has eyes let her read.    

But will she take it on board?

Written by The Veteran

February 26, 2020 at 10:46 pm

Continental Drift and Its Victims

A few days ago, my fellow blogger, The Veteran, drew attention to protests on the West Coast against the Labour-Green-NZ First government in this piece: YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS ON TV:

The rally heard speakers from all sectors of West Coast industries; mining, farming, tourism, forestry, plus lines company Westpower and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae.    They railed against the freshwater action plan, the ban on new mining on conservation land, the Indigenous Freshwater Fish Bill, the rejection of windblown timber legislation, the canning of the proposed hydro dam on the Waitaha river all of which were seen as doing ‘irrevocable harm’ to the West Coast economy.

Ye Olde Classic Lefty, Chris Trotter, has now joined the fray in yet another of his almost endless paens to a lost world in The Message From Messenger Park:

It’s precisely this widening gulf between those with actual experience of things like guns, chainsaws and drilling machines, and those who regulate their use, that accounts for the angry crowd at Greymouth’s Messenger Park. In the rarefied atmosphere where decisions to shut down whole industries are made, hands-on experience is not only rare – it’s despised. What do workers know about anything?

For a start, they know that human-beings have been changing nature for millions of years. From the moment some brave ancestor pulled a burning branch from the edge of a blazing forest, our species ceased to be just another mammal. From chipping flint to smelting steel, humanity’s relentless drive to innovate and alter has granted it, in the solemn language of Genesis: “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

You don’t truly understand this truth until, using your own strength and skill, and the strength and skill of your workmates, you collectively transform your world. And that sort of truth: the knowledge you gain down in a mine or felling a tree: you won’t find in a book anywhere.

Good solid Working Class stuff! Salt of the Earth. The sort of thing laughed at regularly by university graduates for decades now, whether they were Lefties in the Humanities Departments or Righties in Commerce and Management Studies.

But what really cracked me up was the following comment from one “Sanctuary“, familiar to most readers here for his always-angry rants on blogs like The Standard and Kiwiblog about the failures of the Left and the evils of the Right.

Wah wah wah, cry me a river. I am heartily sick and tired of the whining exceptionalism of coasters and farmers. Plenty of people work hard for sweet f**k all, try being an all night cleaner in Tamaki’s industrial sprawl.

The world is changing. Coasters seem to think they have a right to do what they want because, reasons. Nobody forces them to live in that rainy and dreary place. Yes, their way of life is out of date. So stop whinging that the rest of us have some sort of obligation to support a dying way of life, like some sort of giant outdoor paean to the 20th century and accept it.

I had a bit of deja vu as I read that, for it could have come from the pen of any Rogergnome in the 1980’s that one cares to name as they wrote about the dead and dying world of the Polish Shipyard that was the NZ government-economy.

So much for all the criticism heaped on the “Labour Party Traitors” and the Right for crushing and destroying the outdated world of Sanctuary and his friends.

Turns out that his only real objection was being the target. It’s rather like his Leninist forebears in 1900’s Russia whining about the cruelties of the Okhrana, the Czar’s secret police – only to set up a vastly more evil secret police, the Cheka, as soon as they got hold of the levers of power.

Similarly, now that the boot is on Sanctuary’s leafy suburban foot it’s time for that boot to stamp on the faces of the Coasters – forever.

It also reminded me of a present-day argument presented in this article written in March 2016:

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too.

The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.

That’s hardline Rightie, Kevin Williamson, writing in the classic Right-Wing magazine, National Review.

It could be Sanctuary writing about the West Coast of NZ.

Incidently the title of that NR article is The Father-Führer, where Williamson raged against the populism of Trump as he appealed to save these American places that can’t be saved.

Perhaps like the 1980’s we are about to see a new “Rightish” realignment within the Labour Party between the likes of the Sanctuary’s and the Williamson’s, as we’ve seen between elements of the “new” Democrats and WTO Republicans in the US.

By the same token, in the USA we’ve seen a “Leftish” realignment with Working Class Democrats voting for the GOP – well, specifically for Trump in 2016, much to Williamson’s disgust. Or the “strange” realignment that seems to be taking place in Britain since at least the Brexit referendum, where a polling trend shows the Working Class increasingly supporting the Tories.

The continental plates of Western democracies appear to be cracking and shifting. In the case of the West Coast I doubt that voting National will change anything for the Coasters, given that National are equally in thrall to the urban voters who know little of the provincial-rural world and care even less.

Still, Sanctuary’s words, coming as they do from a hard-core Labour Party man, should be sent to every West Coaster along with the message:

This Is What You’re Voting For.


It says much about the health of our democracy that such a thing should come to pass. That two men holding radically divergent views were able to meet and drink coffee together without descending into loud and rancorous disagreement. That one of those men was Sir Roger Douglas says even more.

To say I was surprised that the architect of the economic changes which transformed New Zealand between 1984 and 1990 wanted to meet with me would be to understate the case considerably. For most of my adult life I have, one way or another, fought and criticised what came to be called “Rogernomics”. Not just privately, down at the pub with my lefty mates, but publicly, in print and on the airwaves. I even helped to form, and stood as a candidate for, NewLabour – the political party whose whole raison d’être was to roll Rogernomics back. And yet, here was Sir Roger Douglas on the other end of the line, inviting me to assess his latest ideas for improving New Zealand – kanohi ki te kanohi – over coffee.

It is not my place to summarise or in any other way represent those ideas, Sir Roger has his own plans for that. Suffice to say that they extend and elaborate upon ideas foregrounded in his books Towards Prosperity and Unfinished Business. What I can do, however, is report upon my response to the man – and to make some comparisons.

It is a common refrain, among the under-50s, that Rogernomics is the most enduring legacy of the Baby Boomer generation. Not true. Sir Roger Douglas was born in December 1937, nearly two years before the outbreak of the Second World War. His earliest experiences were not of post-war prosperity, but of the hardships and austerity of wartime and its immediate aftermath. In cultural flavour, Sir Roger is more Frank Sinatra and Patti Page, than Bob Dylan and the Beatles. In political terms, Sir Roger’s experience was of National Party governments cruising to victory on the strength of Labour Party achievements and ideas. He thus came to understand early that ideas matter, and that some legacies can last too long.

That ideas still matter to this spry 81-year-old was obvious from the moment we settled into a quiet corner of the Orvieto Café on Auckland’s Mt Eden Road. He had brought with him an impressive stack of papers – each containing page-after-page of carefully calculated figures. And the way he argued from those figures swept me back more than 30 years to the “Great Economic Debate” initiated by Labour Party president, Margaret Wilson. That debate had become an urgent necessity as it began to dawn on Labour’s membership that the government of David Lange and his frenetic Finance Minister was going to be remembered for something more than declaring New Zealand nuclear-free.

This is how I described Sir Roger’s defence of his new Goods & Services Tax at the Otago-Southland regional conference of the Labour Party in April 1985:

“Douglas is messianic. He scrawls figures on the blackboard with violent energy, barking out his arguments like a Parade Sergeant. There is an aura of absolute conviction about the man that is taking its toll on the waverers. Will they hold?”

Well, we all know the answer to that question. Labour’s GST is internationally famous for being the only value-added tax that left the government responsible for its introduction as – if not more – popular after its implementation than before.

And he’s still got it. As I listen to Sir Roger take me through his ideas on superannuation, education, health and housing, I feel that same nagging doubt; that same fear that I and my comrades may simply not have what it takes to break the man’s spell. Just as in the mid-1980s, it is not a matter of whether or not Roger Douglas is right, but of whether or not his opponents have the ability to persuade a majority of voters that he’s wrong.

It is precisely in this area that the present government is so woefully deficient. Neither in Labour’s ranks, nor NZ First’s, nor the Greens, is there a “policy aggressor” remotely equal to Sir Roger. Jacinda Ardern is every bit as effective as David Lange at conveying emotion – better even. But, just ask Jacinda to set forth a compelling case for “transformational” change in any of the policy areas dear to her heart: child poverty; affordable housing; climate change; and she is reduced to ums and ahs and buzzwords. It’s embarrassing.

Nowhere near as embarrassing, however, as the vapid presentations of her Finance Minister, Grant Robertson: a man for whom the expression “conventional wisdom” might have been invented. Is there anyone, in the New Zealand business community, I wonder, who’d be willing to wager that Robertson has ever sat down to privately crunch the numbers underpinning a comprehensive economic agenda of his own devising? Or, that he has ever seen an orthodox idea for which he was not willing to jeopardise his own government’s popularity? Or, that there has ever been a new and transformational policy presented to him upon which he was not happy to heap the scorn of his advisers?

I could go on – but why bother. There is simply no one in Jacinda’s Cabinet to match Roger Douglas, or his back-up band of Richard Prebble and David Caygill. And, could anyone honestly describe the hands of New Zealand’s current Deputy-Prime Minister as being the equal in safety to those of Geoff Palmer’s?

Perhaps that is why, before allowing Sir Roger to begin his presentation, I made one of my own. Because I simply could not miss this strange opportunity to tell him that although we have been on opposite sides of the crucial economic and political debates of the past 35 years, it would be remiss of me not to thank him for showing people like myself that it really is possible to transform a society. That a group of politicians, possessed of a strong vision – backed up by policies for which they have made themselves the most persuasive of advocates – can make the most astonishing changes. Not only that, but that such politicians can defend those changes with sufficient passion and skill to secure their re-election.

Thinking about the way Jacinda has become so fond of ruling-out the “Big Change” tactics of Rogernomics, I simply had to tell him that. Because, whatever else may be said about Sir Roger, New Zealanders are forever in his debt for demonstrating with “absolute conviction” that ideas matter; that some legacies can last too long; and that radical change is possible.

Written by The Veteran

October 6, 2019 at 8:37 pm


Chris Trotter writes … ‘To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her adviser’s failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinta some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingenue.   A star-dusted muppet whose only job is to keep the punters entertained while the big boys get on with the job of running the country.   Even worse, it casts those ‘Big Boys’ as deeply cynical power-brokers who long ago lost their moral compasses.  And that, in turn, casts Jacinda as the hapless little woman kept in the dark by a bunch of cold-hearted bastards prepared to do whatever necessary to keep their mate in his job.’
Ouch and double ouch … Jacinta a muppet/puppet.  Clearly Grant Robertson has much to answer for and with 80% of respondents in a recent poll saying the PM is a liar that doesn’t bode well for either of them.
Then of course there is the little matter of the Labour Party lawyer going feral.

Written by The Veteran

September 21, 2019 at 3:16 am


As for the Greens’ female co-leader, Marama Davidson. Perhaps the best that can be said of her performance is that it has been distinguished by neither wisdom, nor justice. Nor even by a conspicuous quantum to democracy – participatory or otherwise.

Most notably absent has been the founding Green principle of Nonviolence. On the contrary, Davidson’s “woke” faction of the party, caught up in the ever-tightening coils of identity politics, have unleashed a level of emotional violence upon those it deems ideological heretics that must surely make the party’s founders weep.

This ain’t me … written by Chris Trotter. the standard bearer for the ‘Left’ in New Zealand.   Ouch and double ouch.

Written by The Veteran

February 8, 2019 at 10:09 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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