• The Change in the Political Debate

    It hasn’t taken long for the advent of Judith Collins as National party leader to change the tone of the political debate.

    After several days of headlines and airwaves dominated by reports of a National MP sending pornographic images to young women, the National leader had had enough of that story, and found a way to turn the tables. She devised a way to release into the public domain reports that a Labour minister had had an affair that had ended some months earlier.

    No matter that the affair had been known about in political circles for some time; the focus of attention was now on Labour. The Prime Minister had no option but to sack her minister; a failure to do so would have allowed Judith Collins to pursue the second leg of her stratagem, by daily hounding Jacinda Ardern with questions as to when she would “show leadership and do something about it”.

    The contagion seems to have spread rapidly. We have now had Winston Peters attributing to the Prime Minister a readiness to lie and, when she does, to lie “big” – a practice usually attributed to Nazi leaders like Hitler and Goebbels; even for NZ First, this is surely “over the top”.

    But before we get too depressed about this descent into gutter politics, we should pause to count our blessings. As we look around the globe, we see daily evidence of a world that, as the WHO constantly points out, has totally failed to grasp the severity of and threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    In Europe, there is worrying evidence of a second wave of cases and deaths. The virus is raging, almost unchecked, in countries like India and South Africa. Even in counties that have so far done quite well, like Australia, Israel, Japan and Hong Kong, there is a threatening resurgence. And as for the US and Brazil, a total failure of leadership in those countries is exacting a tragic toll of rising daily numbers of cases and deaths in the tens of thousands.

    It is beginning to dawn on people that, until there is a vaccine (and I salute my old university, Oxford, for the promising work they have done in that regard), the virus will continue to seek out new victims until there are no more.

    And – what about us, here in New Zealand? We have brought the pandemic under control, by ending community transmission, and we have now resumed normal life. We, alone in the world, can go about our business more or less as usual, and we alone can attend in large numbers to watch thrilling rugby matches and other sporting events. And, we can cheer when we see Ashley Bloomfield, “The Eliminator”, score a try!

    None of this would have been possible if we had listened to the siren voices from various parts of the political spectrum, urging us to abandon the lockdowns prematurely, to open our borders, and to open up “bubbles” with other countries. It is noteworthy that none of the owners of those voices has ever “fessed up” that they got it wrong.

    And one thing is even more certain; none of it would have been possible without the most effective, clear and courageous leadership from our Prime Minister and from Ashley Bloomfield, and without a truly uplifting community effort and resolve from all of us – ordinary Kiwis.

    We can afford to ignore the efforts of politicians to re-focus on the grubbier aspects of life. We can afford to sympathise with those millions overseas whose governments have let them down.

    Best of all, we can afford to congratulate ourselves and our leaders on a job well done.

    Bryan Gould
    29 July 2020