• The Sharma Saga

    Harold Macmillan, when British Prime Minister, once tried to calm the nerves of a young MP who was about to make his first speech from the front bench. The young man had confessed that he did not relish having to address, at close quarters, the serried ranks of those whom he described as “the enemy”.

    “They are not the enemy,“ Macmillan advised him, “they are your opponents. Your enemies are behind you.”

    Macmillan was making a point that is often not understood by the public. In a parliamentary democracy, politics is two different games being played at the same time.

    One is a team game – one team against the other. But within each team, there are a number of other games, with individual team members vying with each other for recognition and preferment.
    And, given that politicians are often high achievers in their previous life, and accordingly have a high conceit of themselves, it is inevitable that, from time to time, an individual will feel that he or she is given inadequate respect and consideration by other team members.

    In such circumstances, the individual will sometimes lose sight of the team’s interests, and might even focus on harming the team’s prospects, as a form of revenge for what is perceived as a lack of respect from other team members.

    Those who have followed the Sharma saga might like to bear these thoughts in mind.

  • National’s Bad News

    The travails of National MP Sam Uffindell are bad news for the National party in more ways than one. The obvious question is as to how an applicant with such a disreputable history could have secured the nomination as the National candidate in the Tauranga by-election. National’s vetting procedures seem to have been so seriously deficient, if not non-existent, as to suggest something approaching contempt for the voters of Tauranga.

    Even worse, the candidate’s personal history reeks of privilege and entitlement. Bullying is almost always the prerogative of those who think they are better than others and who also believe that their special status means that they are untouchable. It doesn’t require a great mental leap to conclude that those are precisely the qualities that one might expect to find in the National party.

    The reaction of most voters to the Uffindel saga shows that, in a democracy, the liberties and indulgences taken and shown by the rich and powerful are not acceptable in those we engage to govern us. If they can’t govern themselves, how can they expect to be trusted to govern us?

  • Luxon’s Undoing

    Even right-wing commentators have, over recent days, and jusrifiably enough, been taking the National leader, Christopher Luxon, to task. They have lambasted him over his soft-shoe shuffle over abortion, for bad-mouthing New Zealand business while he was overseas, and for pretending to be in Te Puke while he was actually on holiday in Hawaii.

    The critics had every reason to be critical, but they nevertheless seem to have missed the real significance of Luxon’s shortcomings. They have lamented the fact that his lack of judgment may have reduced the chances of a National victory at the next election. But the real reason to take note of Luxon’s failings is because of what they tell us about the sort of Prime Minister he would make and raise the question of whether he is even fit for that high office.

    For Luxon to demonstrate his lack of judgment and probity in this way is bad enough for a Leader of the Opposition – the only ones to suffer are his party and supporters. But for a Prime Minister to show similar weaknesses is worrying for all of us. Mistakes such as these could have a major impact on the lives of all of us and on our country as a whole.

    The only comfort is that he has demonstrated his deficiencies in time for us to take the action needed to avoid being affected by them.

  • The Choice

    So, now we know for sure. The “protesters” who defiled the grounds of parliament and who (according to their own account) intended to create in three of our major cities “maximum disruption and inconvenience” to other citizens, are not interested in democracy – indeed, quite the contrary. Their objective, quite clearly, is to deny and defy the outcome of a democratic election and to overturn an elected government.

    The issues which they had earlier claimed were those that motivated them – vaccination and other measures to counter the covid pandemic – are no longer live issues. The only remaining issue is their overall hostility to our elected government and their willingness to use any means, including assaults on the rights and freedoms of other citizens, to establish a regime of indeterminate character but which would clearly not be democratic or respectful of the rights of others.

    In some ways, the leaders of the so-called protesters have done us all a favour by making their nefarious objectives so clear. If the issue and choice that now confronts us is to decide between Jacinda Ardern and her elected government on the one hand and Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church on the other, the response is surely a no-brainer. The “protesters” may have unwittingly shot themselves in the foot by showing their hand so clearly.

  • Enough Is Enough

    Enough is enough! Ian Foster must go – and if he doesn’t do so of his own accord (as he should do), he must be pushed.

    That became apparent in the first minute of the match, when it became clear that neither the coach nor the team had learned any of the lessons from last week’s debacle. In the first two tests against Ireland, the Irish had blasted out of the starting blocks and scored the opening try.

    Yesterday, the early possession came the All Blacks’ way. Aaron Smith, once regarded as the best halfback in the world, seemed curious as to whether the Irish could repeat the trick, so he lofted the ball back to them. They duly obliged, ran the ball back at speed and scored the first try.

    From that point on, there was a succession of handling errors and poorly directed kicks, all of which invited further Irish incursions and scoring opportunities. The kicking was not accidental but clearly part of the game plan. The mindset can be seen from the fact that David Havili’s selection was explained on the basis that “he offers a further kicking option” to help support Beauden Barrett.

    We can only assume that the constant kicking was seen as an effective response to the rush defence employed by the Irish (and virtually every other international team). But the kicking we used was not so much a tactical response as a capitulation.

    It was only in the second half that Will Jordan demonstrated that running with the ball in hand could produce a score. Sadly, the current All Blacks do not seem to recognise that holding the ball is the prerequisite to winning matches – and their coach appears to have reinforced that failing.

    The All Blacks are approaching the point when they will be obliged to abandon the haka which, with nothing to support it, will be ridiculed as pure posturing. And the World Cup? Don’t even bother. Without basic change at the top, we won’t even get out of our group.