• Jacinda

    She gave it her all.

    No New Zealand Prime Minister has ever dominated the political scene at home as she has done, or has established an international profile to match hers.

    No New Zealand Prime Minister has had to confront such a sequence of domestic and international catastrophes – from the mosque killings to the Whakaari eruption, from the covid pandemic to the Ukraine war; and each one grew and multiplied in its consequences and became more difficult to resolve because of the problems created at the same time by the others.

    Throughout these trials and tribulations, Jacinda (one of the few politicians to be instantly recognisable by her first name alone) has borne a huge burden of responsibility on her slim shoulders. While the voices of protest have threatened her with violence and urged us to reject her with venom and hatred, most Kiwis have recognised that she invariably approached her many tasks with good sense and calmness – qualities not always in evidence among her opponents and detractors.

    It is entirely fitting that, in her valedictory message, she identified kindness as the defining characteristic of her approach to politics and to life itself. We will have less of that, sadly, in our national life and public affairs with her departure. For all you have done, thank you, Jacinda.

  • Prince Harry’s Problem

    What is it with Prince Harry?. Most of us would probably acknowledge that he has a legitimate cause for complaint at the way he and his wife have been treated by the British media. But there is more to it than that. Harry seems to harbour resentment against the media all right but against his own family as well.

    What is the basis of that resentment? If the title of his book is anything to go by, the issue that sticks in his craw is that he is the “spare” while his older brother is the “heir”.

    But it is hard to see that this fact alone can really be the reason for such an obvious sense of grievance. Being the second-born, after all, is just a fact of life – an accident of birth – the same accident of birth that brought him into the royal family in the first place.

    He should surely have substantial reason to celebrate the accident of birth that delivered to him all the wealth, status and privilege that he enjoys by virtue of his royal birth. Why does the grievance outweigh the celebration?

    Has he thought how tough the accident of birth might have been for those many who were born into families of no-hopers, and whose life chances were blighted as a consequence? We are, after all, all accidents of birth; most of us do not stamp our feet and look around for someone to blame, merely because we did not win a top prize in the lottery.

    Sad though it is to make such a judgment, Harry is nothing more than a spoilt baby – not satisfied with the large helping of ice cream he has been given, and jealous of an older brother who has more. Grow up – and suck it up, Harry!

  • TheHerald – A Joke

    The Herald’s deliberate, sustained and orchestrated campaign to slant the news has gone beyond a joke – not that it was ever a joke. In virtually every issue of the Herald, the news selection, headlining, and commentary are specifically designed to show the government in a bad light or opposition parties and politicians in a good light.

    Today’s issue is a case in point. There is a piece claiming to discover in Christopher Luxon qualities that are not apparent to anyone else; and there is the somewhat pathetic attempt to associate him with his “mentor”, John Key, so that he can bask in the supposed reflected glory of someone who remains the National party’s favourite son and supposed success story.

    There are other headlines about issues, such as the holiday road toll and the three waters reforms, that are seen as unhelpful to the government. In each case, it is the headline that counts – in each case, the attempt is made to stimulate in the reader the perception that nothing can go right with the government in charge.

    In yesterday’s edition, for instance, there was a headline to the effect that “a report” had found that the government’s bail-out of businesses during the covid lockdowns “had not been necessary”. So, the effort made to keep businesses “in business”, it seems had been beside the point, and the government deserved no credit for the successful effort that had been made.

    Surprisingly, however, “the report” referred to, which was from BERL, the reputable economic analysts, had found that the bailout had been effective, and had been well worth doing. Once again, it was the headline that mattered to the Herald – so easily was a “good news” story, that reflected well on the government, transformed into one that raised doubts about the government’s competence.

    With news coverage as biased as this from our leading newspaper, what chance do we have of operating an effective and working democracy?

  • “Pipsqueak” or “Prick”?

    I have always thought that the appropriate epithet to apply to David Seymour was “pipsqueak”. His reaction to the Prime Minister calling him an “arrogant prick”, however, confirms her judgment rather than mine. His disastrous intervention on television and attempt to capitalise on the Prime Minister’s use of the term confirmed that the PM had got him bang to rights.

  • Hamilton West

    The Hamilton West by-election was a valuable pointer to the outcome of next year’s general election, according to the Herald (whose relentlessly biased and one-sided news selection, reporting and commentary on a daily basis continue to do us all a disservice and are a blight on our democracy).

    But one doesn’t have to be an expert to understand that a by-election is very rarely any such thing. First, the turn-out is usually much lower than in a general election – and that was certainly the case in Hamilton West. What that means is that we have no means of knowing how those who did not vote will vote in a general election.

    Secondly, by-elections are often dominated and decided by single issues. In Hamilton West, the by-election was made necessary by the self-centred behaviour of a defecting (former) Labour MP. It would be surprising if Gaurav Sharma’s decision to throw his toys out of the playpen had not had some impact on voter behaviour and intentions, in one direction or another.

    Thirdly, a by-election takes place in a vacuum of its own. The voters are asked to focus on local and current issues and candidates, without regard to wider issues. The only political party (as opposed to individuals) they can have in view is the current government.

    In a general election, however, they are asked to compare an actual government with a would-be government. The choice they have to make requires a quite different thought process. They are no longer making a judgment – favourable or otherwise – of a known quantity, but are assessing the comparative competence of a new pretender to office.

    Before we, (or the Herald), presume to count our chickens, let us wait for a general election campaign, in which voters across the country can make a judgment, not just of one political party but of several, including one led by a political novice whose lack of experience and capacity for misjudgment are becoming legendary.