• Doing Not Saying

    A major, nation-wide challenge to our national well-being, such as the coronavirus pandemic, is not necessarily bad news for everybody. The government of the day has no choice but to take it on the chin, but opposition politicians, and other critics of the government, can have a field day; they can stay safely on the sidelines and take potshots whenever it pleases them.

    The reason for this is simple. The pandemic inevitably presents a panoply of difficult issues, and they are difficult for a reason. The majority of them require a choice to be made between two either-or responses, neither of them attractive – to act or not to act, to do A or to do B, to act now or wait. Whichever answer is chosen will please one group of people and displease another; the government will, in other words, be damned by one group if it does and by another group if it does not.

    The choice for the opposition is a simple one. They align themselves, whatever the merits of the arguments on either side of a particular issue, with the group that is displeased and thereby create the impression that the government is always getting it wrong. How much better things would be, they say, if we were in charge – we would unerringly arrive at the right answers to all of these difficult issues. And their credibility is greatly enhanced by the automatic support they receive (whatever their preferred option) from the anti-government media.

    Fortunately, the voters are a little more sophisticated. They know that hard choices have to be made and that what matters is that they are made and not just swept under the carpet. Doing, rather than saying what you might have done, is what counts.

  • Headaches

    I noticed an item in today’s Herald titled “What’s really causing your headache – and how to treat it”. I turned to it expectantly, imagining that the Herald was at last about to acknowledge the assault it repeatedly makes on the sensibilities of its readers and celebrating that I was about to receive an apology for the headaches I suffer from the Herald’s insistence on acting as a propaganda sheet rather than a proper newspaper.

    Sadly, there was not a word of “mea culpa”, and the rest of the “newspaper” persisted in its scattergun attacks on the government and in offering a distorted view of how the political debate should be conducted. Readers of the Herald arise! You have nothing to lose but your headaches!

  • Mystery Solved!

    Anyone seeking the key to unlocking the convoluted logic and selective memory demonstrated in Richard Prebble’s latest anti-government diatribe in today’s Herald need look no further than the strap line at the bottom of the article. It describes him as “a former leader of the Act party and a former member of the Labour Party” – mystery solved! Such flexibility is not evidence that he has seen the light but rather suggests the mind of a gadfly that alights wherever his fancy takes him.

  • He Picked Up the Ball and Ran

    I settled down to watch the Highlanders versus Moana Pacifika match this week in the expectation of seeing a good, competitive and skilful game of rugby and a welcome opportunity for the Pacifika team to demonstrate its skills. What I got was a clear (and first) win for the Highlanders, but was at the same time the very antithesis of the adventurous running game I had hoped for.

    There was a point in the second half when the Highlanders were awarded the latest of a series of penalties at a point near the halfway line. I shouted “No!” in frustration – not because the penalty was not justified, but because I knew what would inevitably follow. And sure enough, there was the inevitable kick to the corner, followed by a line out, and the equally inevitable rolling maul that produced a Highanders try.

    “Why”, I asked myself, “was no thought given to using the possession afforded by the penalty to launch a searing back line attack or a clever piece of deception?” Instead, we got a purely mechanical response, in which the attacking team went through the well-worn motions, with no hint of innovation, daring or subterfuge, or any of the plays that make rugby the best of all team games.

    The Highlanders are not of course the only culprits. The rolling maul has become the chosen go-to for every team that has run out of any other ideas, and it has achieved this status because it is, as is so often demonstrated, virtually impossible to defend against.

    It is virtually impossible to defend against because the rules apparently (and inexplicably) allow what is outlawed in any other play. The rolling maul allows any number of players (sometimes virtually the whole team) to drive forward, knocking opponents out of the way and clearing the way for one of their own players who has the ball and is behind them, and is immune from being tackled, even though he is in possession.

    Rugby has enough problems without deliberately legitimating a scenario that denies the essence and spirit of the game. My appetite for Super Rugby will be severely limited if there are too many further repetitions of the soulless fare that was served up in Dunedin. My version and vision of rugby is still of a game where the players “picked up the ball and ran.”

  • Have They No Shame?

    Am I alone in resenting and deploring the constant attempts by KFC to use their advertising budget to suggest that they are somehow the mainstay of our national game, and that rugby cannot be enjoyed or supported except by those who partake of their fat-ridden and sugar and salt-laden “fast” food?

    The adverse health effects of eating KFC, and the physical demands made by playing rugby at a high level, make for uncomfortable bedfellows, to say the least. Have KFC and their advertisers no shame?