• British Tories and New Zealand

    It is no accident that the guest speaker at the National party gathering in Queenstown this week is George Osborne, the former British Conservative MP and (now largely discredited) former Chancellor of the Exchequer in David Cameron’s government.

    Kiwis may be surprised to learn of the keen interest shown by British Tories in the New Zealand political scene and, in particular, in the political fortunes of Jacinda Ardern. They are heartily sick of the favourable reports and coverage in the British media of our Prime Minister and of New Zealand in general.

    What they fear is that, if the British voters get the impression that a party of the left has performed well as the government of another Commonwealth country, they might get the idea that a similar brand of politics might be a good thing in the UK as well. They are desperate to take the gloss off Jacinda Ardern.

    That is why we have seen a couple of apparently unrelated episodes in the right-wing British media over recent days. There was the outrageous interview given by Philip Schofield (born in New Zealand and a recent visitor to our shores) to a right-wing television interviewer; in that interview, he asserted that New Zealand was “essentially closed”; his purpose was to assure viewers that any impression they might have that New Zealand had done, in comparative terms, pretty well in handling the coronavirus epidemic had to be offset by the draconian controls our government had put in place to defeat the virus.

    But that was preceded (and exceeded) by an article written by David Seymour, our very own leader of the ACT party, for the right-wing Daily Mail newspaper, in which he described New Zealand as “a hermit kingdom” with an authoritarian government.

    Most Kiwis would regard these opinions as not only wide of the mark but also as surprisingly disloyal – if not to the government (what else would you expect from those quarters) – then at least to the country.

    It is not often that we can see so clearly how far the politically prejudiced can go to bad-mouth their own government and country. Sadly, we should be enured to any shock or surprise, when we see on a daily basis the lengths to which our own New Zealand Herald will go to skew the news against the government and in favour of National.

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