A cautionary tale of the fishy kind

August 31, 2008

Helen Clark ponders alone in despair

Her dearest dream’s turned into a nightmare

She thought she was popular and competent too,

But now she’s stuck knee deep in donkey do.

 

She ruled as PM which is what she desired

If anyone threatened her then they were fired

Ruth and Leanne were stood down when they failed

She couldn’t risk having her plans derailed.

 

Dover Samuels went fast and didn’t return

He was left on the back bench his lesson to learn

Phillida Bunkle, Marion Hobbs too

Were cast out from cabinet on their sins to stew.

 

She stood by BP when the first mud was thrown

But lest some spattered her, he was out on his own.

David Parker had a whoopsy so she dropped him fast

But let him come back when the danger had passed.

 

Phillip Field’s another who got into trouble

And eventually she left him alone in the rubble.

It took her a while, perhaps she was slow

But when polls started falling he had to go.

 

Harry Duynhoven, was another who went

And John Tamihere was forced to repent.

The message was clear: you falter – you fall

You’re out of cabinet if you drop the ball.

 

But she stuck with Peters through good times and bad,

Though many’s the day he’s driven her mad.

She put up with his bluster and held her tongue

When often she wished that he could be hung.

 

She draped him with baubles and stoked up his pride,

And accepted his word that he’d never lied.

Allegations have swirled but she stood aloof

Not trying too hard to seek out the truth.

 

But as the dirt that was thrown began to stick

She wanted him gone lickety split.

When all else had failed she at last told him “go”

But when you look at the facts, ‘twas only a show,

 

Portfolios passed over, the hard work he shirks.

But he’s still a Minister and keeps all the perks

Whatever was said only those two can tell,

But something has got a strong fishy smell.

 

Corruption’s a strong word, but something’s not right

As conflicting evidence comes into light.

And clinging to power is not without cost

Clark’s paid for it now with credibility lost.

 

Any day soon she’ll set a date

And voters will have in their hands her fate.

There’s still a faint chance they’ll buy her spin

And give her enough votes the election to win.

But win it or lose it one thing’s for sure

She and Winston are deep in manure.

John Key’s in the right and he’s standing strong

While Helen and Winston are left in the wrong.

 

And perhaps looking back she’ll see her mistake

In letting him of so many baubles partake.

If you sup with the devil it’s something you’ll rue

Especially if he’s supping a rotten fish stew.

 


No way to treat a lady

August 31, 2008

A group of friends was enjoying a National party conference dine and dance some years ago when they noticed one of the MPs. He was approaching a table, asking one of the women at it for a dance, doing a couple of circuits of the dance floor with her then walking off and moving on to the next table to invite someone else to dance.

The friends decided when the MP approached their table, which ever woman was invited to dance would accept, start the dance then abandon him before he had a chance to drop her.

The MP approached their table, invited one of the women to dance, she accepted, went part way round the floor, then graciously extricated herself, leaving him by himself looking flummoxed and foolish. Those watching from her table burst in to laughter. The MP heard them and gave them a look which suggested he did not appreciate the joke.

Who was he?


A video’s worth …

August 31, 2008

Whaleoil  has the full story which starts with a video which was:

… sent to me on DVD in an unmarked brown envelope postmarked from Henderson. I do not know who sent it, though I have verified it is authentic and additional footage supplied shows it to be authentic.

Busted Blonde  and  Keeping Stock  have related posts.


The ex parrot

August 31, 2008

The scene: Dunedin’s Regent Theatre.

The event: University of Otago Capping Show.

The date: Definitely May and either 1975, 76 or 77.

The cast: Jon Gadbsy and someone else whose name escapes me.

The skit: Monty Python’s dead parrot.

Tha parrot hasn’t come back to life, but the skit has been revived because as Keeping Stock points out if you substitute Foreign Minister for parrot  and Norway lobster for Norwegian Blue it takes on a whole new meaning.

You can watch it here.


Labour list version 3

August 31, 2008

The Labour list is now on version three (the first one had Judith Tizard at number 1; the second had Lesley Soper at 77 when she’s at 44 – still almost certainly not likely to be back in parliament but not as insulting as 77).

The Hive has a prediction of who’ll be in and who’ll miss out here.

Inventory 2 from Keeping Stock left a comment on the previous post pointing to a correction at No Minister : Sir Ronnie Flanagan is not the British Home Minister.

Keeping Stock also linked to the analysis on Kiwiblog which includes this summary based on public polls and not knowing which electorates will be won or lost:

So what will Labour’s Caucus look like? Well on the current public polling scenario giving them 45 MPs, it would be:

  • Only 8 MPs or 18% from the South Island
  • 38% female, which isn’t bad at all
  • 49% would be aged in their 50s though
  • They would have only six Maori MPs – the same number as National! They would be Horomia, Mahuta, Jones, Ririnui, Mackey, and Davis
  • Four Pacific Island MPs – Laban, Sio, Chauvel and Sepuloni
  • Three Asian MPs – Choudary, Prasad, and Huo

What does it say when they’ll have just 8 Labour MPs in the South Island?  

It’s a sad reflection on the party’s view on the importance of the mainland. Although we may well be better off without more of them :)

Apart from that this list means the Labour caucus will have fresh blood at the expense of several sitting MPs who now face a life outside parliament. If their idea of their importance is higher than their list placings indicate that will not make the Labour caucus a happier place to be.

What does it say about democratic selections porcesses too? That’s eight new propsective MPs who have been selected by the party elite rather than members at large.


8 new names on Labour list, but where?

August 31, 2008

TV3, The Herald and Stuff all carry news that the Labour list had eight new faces who were promoted over some sitting MPs.

However, none have the whole list nor do they say where the newcomers are placed on it. The Labour website is paid for by parliamentary services so won’t mention candidates either.

On the running average of polls Labour is likely to have no more MPs after the election and may have fewer so Helen Clark will have the task of keeping disaffected MPs in line to add to her troubles.

The new people on the list are:

Rajen Prasad, former Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner;  Jacinda Ardern, a senior policy adviser to British Home Secretary Sir Ronnie Flanagan; Raymond Huo a lawyer and writer;  Phil Twyford, former global head of policy for Oxfam;  Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont;  Maori education advocate Kelvin Davis; Carmel Sepuloni,  an equity manager at Auckland University; and Stuart Nash, who stood in Epsom last election and if memory serves me right conetested and lost the selection for Napier.

I wonder if the CTU will have the same problems with their secretary standing for Labour as the EPMU does with Shawn Tan standing for Act?

Update: I see on Keeping Stock that I should have checked Scoop which has the full list.

Exactly who gets in on the list depends on the party vote and which canidates further back on the list win seats because each seat won puts those in front of them on the list back a slot.

On current polling anyone past the mid 30s will be unlikely to get in unless they win a seat which could include some MPs.

Damien O’Connor at 37 followed by  Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora to  Louisa Wall at 43 will be unlikely to still be in parliament unless they win seats. Lesley Soper doesn’t have a show at 77 and unless she requested to be in a totally unelectable position it’s an insult to put a sitting MP so low.


Sunday Social

August 31, 2008

We came over to Wanaka on Friday evening and were greeted by a starry sky. That promised a hard frost, which we got, but it was worth it for the views from Mount Iron of blue skies, snow clad mountains and millpond lake.

We spent most of the day at Millers Flat. The road there from Wanaka goes past Lake Dunstan and through Alexandra. The grape vines we passed en route were still wearing winter clothes but the cherry trees were in blossom.

The recent snow and rain have replenished moisture levels in the soil and the pasture is starting to change from winter brown to spring green.

Wanaka gave us another frost and sunny skies this morning but there’s work to be done back home so we can’t stay to enjoy it.


She said & he said

August 31, 2008

What really happened between Helen Clark and Winsotn Peters on Friday?

Stephen Franks has a transcript of their conversation here.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock.


Last cab slams door

August 31, 2008

If Hone Harawira’s views are shared by his Maori Party colleagues Labour will not find them a willing coalition partner:

“They’re suffering from the arrogance of being in power too long. At the moment they’re a coalition corpse. They’re gone, and anybody who is associated too closely with them is likely to be gone as well.”

“Clearly we’re not going to be the party that wins the most votes, but we are hoping to be the players after the election, and we are doing all that we can to take the seven [Maori] seats and put ourselves in a position where we will not be the last cab off the rank, but be the first limousine,” said Harawira.

Helen Clark may rue her description of the Maori Party as the last cab off the rank before the last election because one of the cab drivers has just slammed the door on her. Although one of the other drivers may be prepared to open it again:

However Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the Maori Party as a whole had no view on whether there should be a change of government, and that was for voters to decide.


Lost way lost support

August 31, 2008

Invercargill MP Eric Roy has a shearing handpiece on the book shelf in his Wellington office. It’s to remind him where he comes from, why he’s in parliament and who put him there.

MPs who forget those things lose their way and that’s when they lose their supporters.

The Ex-expat  expresses this in a letter which would be instructional reader for all politicians. I don’t agree with all her points, but I am copying it below without comment because it’s a message from the heart which crosses political boundaries – give us something to vote for, not just something to vote against.

A Letter from a Labour Voter

Dear Labour,

I have confession to make, I don’t want to vote this election. You have no idea how much it pains me to make that admission not only because I have a number of friends who will contest this election under the Labour banner and I want them to do well, but because I genuinely believe that the best chance New Zealand has to succeed as a nation is through the re-election of a centre-left government. It’s just right now there doesn’t seem to be a party out there articulating a centre-left vision for the country.

And that’s what is missing from your constant bluster about ‘slippery’ John Key and his band of evil Hollow men with no policy, a vision for me and other left wing voters to vote for rather than a dystopia to vote against. Because the attacks, while fun and politically necessary on occasion, are hardly rousing stuff when that’s all you talk about and I must confess that I don’t bother reading your blog, The Standard, much because of it. It’s a shame because the Standard has interesting analysis on there from time to time but any lucid points are diluted by the sheer number of posts that attack John Key and National in even the most ridiculous of circumstances.

I suppose this negativity is likely a reflection of MPs and Ministers in Wellington who are probably scratching their head wondering why, after nine years of hard-fought funding increases and liberal reforms to New Zealand society, people aren’t dancing in the streets about all that you’ve achieved.

And to be fair to your administration, the New Zealand I returned to last year is a very different country to the one I left in 2002. The place seems so much wealthier than when I left. Not the kind of wealthy where millionaires live in secluded compounds just a few kilometers away from the kind of poverty and hopelessness that made me cry in so many parts of Asia. But a wealth that sees most of our population well fed, mostly healthy and highly educated, and most importantly working in real jobs rather than pretend work in order to receive an unemployment benefit. What I found the most amazing was how many large public infrastructure projects, like spaghetti junction in Auckland, which had been started in the 1970s and left to stagnate in the 1980s and 1990s have been slowly been completed in the past few years thanks to your administration. Likewise you get a thumbs up from ex-expat for concluding a huge number of significant treaty settlements and Free Trade Agreements.

But thing is, I and other voters still want more. The reason we want more is because we didn’t elect you to maintain the status quo, we elected you to build a better society and we know that there is still so much work to be done. I want to know why I’ve spent 18 months being dicked around by the health system for elective surgery I can’t afford to pay for privately and my health insurance policy won’t pay for either. I want to know why broadband in this country is so hideously slow, expensive and in many places non-existent. While we are at it, how come you haven’t gotten around to reforming our heinous abortion laws despite having a supposedly all-powerful women’s caucus?

Most importantly you started your tenure in office with a vision to use a politically incorrect term, ‘close the gaps’ between various sectors of New Zealand society. Sometime during your term in office you stopped talking about the vision even though you and the people who voted for you still believe in it. And while it has taken you nine years in power for that rich poor gap to close for the first time in twenty years, there are still huge gaps that need to be closed. Perhaps the most gaping is in education where we have a system that fails half of the Maori Boys that go through it. I don’t need to lecture on what happens to those boys later in life. But the thing is, the people who are voting for you need to know that reason we need to put money and new ideas into fixing this problem is not because it is ‘politically correct’ but because it is the correct political principle.

At the moment the other side seems to have large numbers of your voters convinced that tax cuts are the way to go to make their lives better. So much so you that you performed a political harikiri, a tax cut of your own, in order to do so. But as you rightly point out to National, you can’t cut tax without also cutting the government services that will hurt your voters the most. What happened to that vision and connection that filled us with such hope in 1999? I’m not sure about the others, but you lost me when the principle of ‘sustainability’ became the political issue that we were willing to burn so much of our political capital in order to achieve.

I hope that I’m wrong about all this and there’s a grand plan in Heather’s top drawer for the next three years that will inspire me and other people to vote you because we want to. Because right now I feel like I am casting my vote on the basis of loyalty rather than inspiration and that’s not really much of reason to drag myself to the polling booth at all.

Regards,

Ex-expat.

PS. You overuse of the ‘slippery’ tag is right up there with the right’sLiarbour‘ for sheer irritation value.


Is nothing sacred?

August 30, 2008

Michael Jackson  is going from bad to verse – he’s set the works of Robert Burns to music.

I wonder if while doing so he pondered on: O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!


Saturday’s smiles

August 30, 2008

A back country sheep farmer was grazing his flock on the long acre of a
remote pasture in outback of Otago when suddenly a brand-new and shining 4WD emerges from a dust cloud.

The driver, a bloke in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, Bolle sunglasses and
Yves St Laurent silk tie, slides down the window and says, “If I
tell you exactly how many sheep and lambs you have in your flock, will
you give me a lamb?”

 

The farmer looks from the man to the peacefully grazing herd and
murmurs, “Why not?”

The well-dressed bloke whips out his notebook, connects it to his mobile
phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS
satellite navigation system to get a fix on his location which he then
feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an
ultra-high-resolution photo. Then he opens the digital photo in Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. Now he accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC-connected Excel spreadsheet on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturised LaserJet printer, turns to the drover and says, “You have exactly 2,586 sheep and lambs.”

That’s right.” says the farmer. “Well, I guess you can take one of my
lambs,” And he watches the man select an animal and stuff it into the
back of his 4WD.

 

Hey,” muses the grazier, “If I can tell you exactly what you do for a living, will you give me back the animal?”

 

The man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”

 

“You’re a bureaucrat from Wellington” says the farmer.

 

“Wow! That’s correct! But how did you guess that?” the bureaucrat asks.

No guessing required.” answered the farmer. You showed up here even though nobody invited you; you wanted to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me  you are; and you don’t know a thing about sheep. Now, give me back my dog.”

 


Casualty list

August 30, 2008

Stuff has a list of Helen Clark’s ministerial casualties. The ones who have been sacked, suspended, stood down or forced to resign under her leadership since 1999 are:

June 28, 2000 - Dover Samuels

October 31, 2000 - Ruth Dyson.

February 23, 2001- Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle (Alliance)

July 23, 2003 - Harry Duynhoven.

February 20, 2004 - Lianne Dalziel.

November 4, 2004 - John Tamihere

May 16, 2005 - David Benson-Pope.

October 19, 2005 - Taito Phillip Field

March 20, 2006 - David Parker.

July 27, 2007 - David Benson-Pope (again).

August 29, 2008 - Winston Peters.

If losing one minister may be regarded as a misfortune and two looks like carelessness, what can be said about losing a dozen?

The explanations for the ministerial falls from grace on Stuff is here and The Herald has photos here.


Meanwhile out in the real world…

August 30, 2008

I’ve just picked up today’s papers from a dairy and commented as I passed them over to the young bloke serving me that these are interesting times politically.

He replied, “What’s happening?”

I pointed to the front pages of The ODT, Press & Southland Times I’d just handed him and others on the counter in front of him with their respective headlines: PM Moves to Control Damage; PM Forces Peters to Step Aside; and Peters Goes Quietly Despite Still Claiming Innocence.

The young man said, “What’s he done now?” and then, “Are there elections this year?”


Labour’s list ranking

August 30, 2008

The Labour Party list ranking process is taking place today.

The task will be more difficult than usual because polling suggests Labour could have a smaller caucus after the election than it has now so any new blood will be introduced at the expense of a sitting MP.

Once the list is announced Helen Clark’s job will get harder because she’ll have to be careful of the fragile egos of the MPs whose high opinions of themselves are not reflected by the list ranking.


Stepped, jumped or pushed?

August 29, 2008

Helen Clark said Winston Peters has stepped down from his ministerial positions.

The wording allows him to retain what vestige of dignity he was still clinging to, but it doesn’t really matter if he stepped, jumped or was pushed. He could not have retained his roles while under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

However, as is typical of Peters, his stepping down raises more questions including: why did he ask Helen Clark to take over his portfolios and why did she accept?

Running the country ought to keep her busy enough without trying to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Racing and Associate Senior Citizens.


Hubris Sydrome

August 29, 2008

Inquiring Mind  examines hubris syndrome:

You look upon the world as an arena in which to exercise power and find glory. Your confidence in yourself is unshakeable. You are restless, impulsive – reckless even. Detail bores you. Oh yes, and God, or history, or both is firmly on your side. No need then to listen to the little people. You are suffering from Hubris Syndrome.

and

The longer you stay in office, the longer you are cocooned by deference, the more your sense of omnipotence grows, the greater the chance you will contract HS. That’s bad because HS leads almost inevitably to flawed reasoning and a blindness to alternatives – or ”hubristic incompetence” as Lord Owen describes it. But it isn’t just about position; there must be some kind of predisposition in sufferers.

The OED defines hubris as insolent or overweening pride leading to nemisis. It sounds very like Ozymandias Syndrome.


NZ First still for ETS

August 29, 2008

New Zealadn First will still support legislation to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Government is reliant on NZ First’s backing to pass legislation that will put an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in place. The bill passed its second reading last night, but must go through its committee stage and third reading next week.

But Mr Peters today said his party’s support for the bill was rock solid, irrespective of his own fate.

“Of course we would never undermine a piece of legislation so important as this because of something that is happening in politics because of untoward circumstances and people in New Zealand,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“That’s not the way we behave.”

Unfortunately I think this is one time when he said what he meant and meant what he said. The only hope lies in that what he said he meant today may not be the same as what he means next week when the vote is taken.


Ozyymandias

August 29, 2008

I had something else in mind for this Friday’s poem but the events of the last couple of days meant I couldn’t go past Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

It is one of the poems in Dear To Me, 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems and published by Random House as an Anmesty International fundraiser.

By serendipitous conincidence it was the choice of Sir Robert Jones who said:

The reason why I like it is that it sums up so well the misplaced grandiose egotism of rulers, be they elected prime minsiters or tyrants, and their craving for permanent legacy after their inevitable demise.

It is an illogical aspiration: once dead, however, they’re viewed is utterly irrelevant to them as they’ll never know. That reality doesn’t stop retired prime minsiters wasting their remaining years writing memoirs which they hope will preserve their place and perceived importance in history.

Ozymandias demonstrates the futility of such aspirations and the inevitable denouement for us all of reduction to dust.

                Ozymandias

 I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two cast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shater’d visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,

The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

-        Percy Bysshe Shelley -


Cannon to the left

August 29, 2008

Keeping Stock  notes that criticism of Helen Clark’s handling of WInston Peters spans the political divide:

When even left-wing commentators like Jafapete are critical of the PM after yesterday’s revelations, questions must be asked of her, and the issue must be kept in the public consciousness.

It’s not just Jafapete.  Bomber over at Tumeke! says:

I think John Key might have just won the election. . . If she doesn’t pull something really good out, I think Winston’s demise could well infect Helen.

The cannons are now aimed from left, right and centre with both Clark and Peters in thier sights and if they remember the Charge of the Light Brigade they’ll get no comfort from this:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,


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