Fish out of water

One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.

He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.

That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.

Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:

Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.

So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .

But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.

Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.

What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.

If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . . 

You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.

If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?

The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.

What you see is what you get.

With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.



46 Responses to Fish out of water

  1. John Key “knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for ”

    Again on the Springbok Tour?

  2. Gravedodger says:

    And The temporary current (just) leader of the NZLP might have been pig hunting in 1984, but whatever, with his well established penchant for truth manipulation who could believe anything he says on any subject.

    I wonder what would be revealed if an accurate survey could be taken on where people positioned themselves over the tour could be gathered, I had plenty of acquaintances who could not have cared less about rugby or apartheid for that matter.

    In passing Guyton, where do you stand on one law for all New Zealand Citizens without reference to belief, race, religion or politics?

  3. Andrei says:

    John Key is just a technocrat Robert Guyton, he serves the Godless Evil Empire, its interests and at their pleasure.

    Our elections are just window dressing that allow us to believe we have self determination, rather than being pampered (in our case) serfs.

  4. Mr E says:

    ” I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse.”


    Claire mentions the frank but not the beans. Sometimes it is more about what you don’t say, than what you do.

  5. Yeah, go Andrei!
    GraveDodger – I’ve heard of passing wind, but passing Guyton??
    Sounds messy.
    I know exactly what my position was on the Spingbok Tour. That Key is vague/compromised/weak doesn’t surprise me at all. Whatever the polling tells him to be, he is.

  6. Gravedodger says:

    You would know the resulting mess better than anyone else, Guyton, being fulla sh*t and all.
    All dressed up in a helmet with a baseball bat, standing up for law breaking and trampling on the lawful rights of others.
    Good fit idjit

    Btw now what about the question for you on one law, still got the call for guidance into the lilypond where Kermit is missing Clint horribly.
    Probably not functioning that well at present, with the distraction of another three years are looming watching the serious people do the governing stuff while the lobbyists contemplate their navels and make more sh*t up.

    Gee didn’t realise what a big hole Clint’s departure created, did your melon mates have a consent to dig it I wonder, then again probably blamed it on Clint, that’s the MO eh.
    Laws only apply to others, not the unwashed, self aggrandizing, we know best, savers of the planet using OPMs and daydreams.

  7. robertguyton says:

    Odd – I make a self-depracating joke that leaves me looking shitty, and Gravedodger call me “idjit”.
    No pleasing some curmudgeons.
    As for the rest of your bilious diatribe, well, it’s so vitriol-drenched that it burns my eyes to read, so I won’t 🙂
    Cheer up, GD. You’re sounding pinched.
    Favour the death penalty as well, do ya?
    I’m picking you do.

  8. Gravedodger says:

    Wrong again moron, I have posted and commented on my total opposition to the ultimate sanction, though there are occasions when I might just weaken a little in my strongly held belief.

    Mind you I have no hesitation in putting suffering creatures out of their misery, something farmers and animal carers are faced with all too often.

    Cannot abide needless suffering actually.

    Then I guess such merciful and necessary actions would be well beyond the realm of understanding in your well ordered and socially manipulated world. I should have called a vet and made him do it for thirty pieces of silver, too bad the suffering continued while time passed by

    Could suggest you are a clod but that is very unkind to all the useful clods out there just waiting their opportunity to contribute something of value to the world.

    My apologies Ele but sometimes when the cat catches a mouse he becomes involved in the game and forgets the laws of Nature.

    That reminds me Guyton I asked a question and you choose to pretend not to read enough to find the urge to answer.
    That equates to cowardice in a way, no surprises there.

    So on the off chance you are being evasive, something you are regularly moved to accuse others of, here we go again.
    Could you disclose your view on one law for all New Zealand Citizens without regard to ethnicity, belief, racial origins or political persuasion.
    Wont hold my breath as it would take time, intellect and effort, so much easier to lie obfuscate and avoid, eh.

  9. “Idiot”, “Moron” “Clod”
    When it comes to mature debate, you set a high bar, GraveDodger.
    You and Mr e make a fine team #teamkey
    Would it be wise for me to disclose, to such a vitriolic personality as yourself, my views on something as significant human rights?
    Judging by your rabid responses to simpler issues, I think not.
    “Could you disclose your view on one law for all New Zealand Citizens without regard to ethnicity, belief, racial origins or political persuasion.”
    I don’t think I safely could.
    More’s the pity.

  10. Gravedodger says:

    Another falsehood held out as fact Guyton.
    I have asserted before and do so again today I have never been a member of the New Zealand National Party and I doubt I would Qualify for team Key on that basis.
    Secondly I have absolutely no clue who Mr E is or any relevant information on his politics.

    You see you poor wee soul with a propensity to dish it out to all and sundry with gay abandon and an even greater propensity to fail epically when it is returned.

    You fail to notice when politicians who I might support screw up and fall I leave it to knobs such as yourself to give them a kicking while I save my energies to deal to those who have an avowed intention to destroy my savings and my way of life.

    That you decline to declare a position on a basic belief as to whether all humans are equal before the law of their country says volumes about you. Sort of comes across as scared what you say might taint your narcissistic reflection in your looking glass.

    Clearly Good old Animal farm author George Orwell had your ilk in mind when he coined the phrase “some are more equal than others.”

  11. Mr E says:

    Odd thing is 6 months ago I was seriously looking at the left as a viable option.
    But quite frankly Robert has driven me off.
    To me it seems the opposite of campaigning.

    Anti-support, I reckon. Sounds a bit like Anti-science.

  12. RBG says:

    Homepaddock, how much time have you actually spent in the same room as David Cunliffe? Not counting the public gallery at parliament.

  13. “Odd thing is 6 months ago I was seriously looking at the left as a viable option.”

    Nah. Not believable.

    “But quite frankly Robert has driven me off.”

    Nah, still no sign of truthfulness there. It’s called “concern-trolling”. You do it badly, Mr e, ’cause you’re so transparent.

  14. homepaddock says:

    RBG – fortunately I’ve been spared that experience. But people whose opinions I respect who know him, one of whom worked with him before he was an MP, confirm my views.

  15. Mr E says:

    Is that right – you don’t believe the facts then.

    Fits your Anti- science behaviour I guess.

    I wonder if you have attracted any to the left Robert? Do you think that is what you do with your “irritating”.

  16. RBG says:

    ‘Fortunately I’ve been spared that experience’ Your prejudice is SO blatant Homepaddock. ‘The criticisms often leveled at Cunliffe’ that you talk of in your post, come from his political opponents, like you, who repeat and re-post the same fabricated spin. You have never sat in an audience and listened to Cunliffe speak, let alone ‘different’ audiences. You do not know how the people who listen to him respond. You are so obviously part of the National party propaganda machine regurgitating the same old ‘play the man not the ball’ strategy.

  17. TraceyS says:

    It follows that if Ele has not heard David Cunliffe speak in person then he is not getting out and about nearly enough. Understandable though. Probably worried about saying something really, really silly.

  18. TraceyS says:

    “seriously looking at the left”…Robert I think you have misinterpreted that as “looking seriously at the left”.

  19. Roger Barton says:

    RBG can I suggest you refer to the top of Ele’s Blog and read the part titled “about home paddock”. After doing so you might understand why she blogs as she does. It is HP’s blog, not mine or yours, but hers.

    On bad days I visit that other blog called “the standard” if you want to see blatant prejudice you will definitely find it there and far more spiteful in my opinion.
    Key isn’t perfect but anyone who amends their CV, as DC has, gives serious reasons to question their credibility.

  20. Paranormal says:

    RPG – I have had one on one meetings with Cunnliffe in the past when he was a minister, and can agree with Ele’s opinion from my first hand experience. He certainly does come from a long line of Cunnliffes.

  21. RBG says:

    There’s plenty of blatant prejudice here Roger Barton, blue ‘tint’ is a misrepresentation. This blog is part of the National spin machine though the author would rather pretend otherwise. TraceyS, your suggestion that Ele Ludemann has not heard David Cunliffe speak because of lack of opportunity is complete nonsense!

  22. Southern says:

    Even though one knows NZ media is seriously biased, you only have to count up the negative vs positive articles about Cunnliffe, add in a bit of ‘where there is smoke’ and you can come up with a fairly valid view of his character.

    His classic line of ‘living in a doer upper’ which is worth more than all the property an average Kiwi will ever own shows just how far he is from every day NZ. Yet Johnny boy, who has more dough than a bull can shit, can still appear as the boy living next door who managed to help steer NZ through the biggest financial disaster to hit the world in quite some time.

    Labour, as they should in election year, are running around as though the sky is falling, yet my business is having record sales, we employ more staff than we ever have and are having to build a larger premises because of all this extra work.

    Damn National, stop being so blardy successful!

  23. homepaddock says:

    RBG – the blue tint should, as Roger points out, be read in context of my declaration of political partisanship on the about page.

    I don’t pretend anything. I am open about being active in National and no-one reading this blog regularly should be in any doubt about my bias.

    I know nothing about a spin machine – I blog as an individual, albeit a biased one, no-one in the party tells me what to write.

    It isn’t nonsense that I’ve never had the opportunity to hear Cunliffe speak. I don’t think he’s been to North Otago since he’s been leader. If he has either there was no pubic meeting or it was very poorly advertised.

    But that’s modern politics, leaders don’t do the public meetings like they used to.

  24. Roger Barton says:

    RBG…start your own blog and express your ideas and see if the locals think you are able to show no prejudice..that’ll be a test for you!
    Failure to do so will just confirm that it easier to lob missiles than catch them

  25. Southern says:

    Roger – that’s just what Guyton did, and he proved to himself how prejudiced he is, now he has to grovel around on other blog sites to try and get a voice – and that’s not working. Whats next, council, oh yeah, that’s not working either cos they won’t listen to him

  26. robertguyton says:

    “Southern” – I’m surprised Ele allows your repeated personal attacks on me. They contravene Ele’s ‘code of conduct’ at the Homepaddock and they are cklearly not connected to any issues being discussed here. On top of that, you hide behind a fake name, yet feel “brave” enough to attack and smear someone who posts using their real name. Yours is cowardly behaviour and seems to be getting worse. Are you brave enough to say who you are? No, you are not. You behave like a coward, hiding away, taking pot-shots. I have no respect for you at all. I expect that if we met in the street, you’d still be too cowardly to introduce yourself. You’re a sly, sneaky, frightened creature, hiding under Ele’s skirts (sorry, Ele). On top of all that, you use the title, “Southern”, making a mockery of the kinds of good people who live in the south. All in all, dishwater is what I see and hear sloshing about when you comment.

    Roger Barton. Your advice to RBG is interesting. It might be that you feel that you are defending the honour of Ele and believe she needs to be shielded from criticism, in which case, I think you are misguided. Free speech is what it appears to be, free (tempered by a requirement to be reasonable in terms of behaviour and not defamatory, as “Southern” was) and no-one who takes the opposite view on an open forum like this, should be required to “start your own blog”. If Ele chooses to post biased comments, which she freely admits she does, she will, accept criticisms from those she attacks, or representatives of the “tribes” she attacks, will respond in kind. Why you feel that shouyldn’t happen, I don’t know. You’re not the only one to employ the, “get your own blog” ploy, it’s par for the course for those who get frustrated by voices that contradict their won.
    Where is, jabba, btw? I’m worried for him.

  27. robertguyton says:

    “I know nothing about a spin machine – I blog as an individual, albeit a biased one, no-one in the party tells me what to write.”
    No-one in the party tells you what to write, Ele, but they send you “suitable” material for posting, material that’s tailored to support the party’s direction and strategy. If that’s not the case, you’re not fulfilling your role (regional chairman for the party, radio commentator with a National Party bias, Blue-blogger etc.)

  28. jabba says:

    “cklearly” .. is that a Southern phrase bOb?

  29. Jabs! You’re okay. What a relief!

  30. Roger Barton says:

    Robert I suspect Ele is capable of defending her own honour. My point was reasonably made in an earlier post. RBG, for whatever reason doesn’t think that Ele’s blog meets a reasonable standard of ethics over issues. It’s blatant prejudice…stated as if it’s found no where else what so ever…which is frankly a nonsense.
    I very occasionally defer to your blog but it isn’t a must read by any stretch…and that’s not because I might take a contrary point of view at’s just fact. It must be dissapointing for you that given you run a blog with all the energy required that the traction seems so light. A bit like the local member for Eketahuna…Mr Alf Grumble.

  31. Roger – I thought RBG’s comments about the “bubble” that Ele opines from to be quite fair. It certainly seems to me that her views are garnered from similarly-hued (deep-blue) people and quite biased, as described by Ele and others. However, that’s not my concern really, I’m more interested in straightening-out your wrong-thinking concerning my blog 🙂 It’s a rag-tag creature, my blog and I have never had aspirations for it to be anything more than an oddity where I can drop quirky stuff for the benefit of my few readers (though I do have 97 “followers” which I note is more than Keeping Stock has. I’ve always wondered why Ele doesn’t display her followers “panel” – perhaps she has fewer than me 🙂 It certainly isn’t a “must-read” as you point out, and I’m grateful that I don’t have to maintain it as such – that’d be no fun! I enjoy Alf Grumble and his world-view – he’s polite to me and I to him. Curiously, I get snarky amongst snarky people – it’s an interest in words that does that – when I read a put-down of something I respect (organic horticulture etc.) I leap to its defence as I would to anything or anybody being monstered by louts and love to compose something acidic and infuriating using words and phrases that I know will inflame Rightwingers – it’s something I realised I was talented at when I was a young teacher and bullied by a couple of Rightwing “school board” members who objected to a garden the children and I had planted. They destroyed that garden one weekend when I was away and flew off the handle when I wrote to the “board” questioning their actions. My letter seemed to me, balanced and fair, but they received it as through it was a threat to their lives! One of them explained after the shouting and threats had subsided, that it was my choice of words that had so infuriated them. It was a revelation to me. I’m very grateful to him for that, though haven’t mentioned it any time I’ve spoken with him these past 20 years 🙂 I’m sorry to bore any reader with this expose, but that’s what happens when you have a glass of wine whilst cooking dinner and catching up on developments in the Homepaddock 🙂

  32. homepaddock says:

    I don’t know how to display followers but here’s a copy and paste from the stats page:

    Followers (includes Publicize)

    621 Blog


  33. RBG says:

    Roger Barton, Homepaddock/Ele constantly ‘lobs missiles’ at the Labour and Green parties. The one she fired at Cunliffe in this post included claims that different audiences get different versions of him. I wanted to know if she had ever been in audiences listening to him or if she was just repeating right wing slogans. Her ‘been spared that’ comment was why I pointed out her prejudice. I have no complaint with HP/Ele’s ethics. Of course this is her blog and she can write what she likes. I have noted a curious repetition of certain phrases in right wing social media, but accept her statement that this blog is all her own work. It appears other right wing commentators repeat the lines Homepaddock posts, a compliment to her I’m sure. A ‘tint’ suggests a light touch of a colour, this blog is a deep, intense blue. As for writing my own blog, I’d love to, but full time work, a long commute (with smart phone thank goodness) and other commitments mean I don’t have the time to blog properly. I settle for bouncing missiles back at the right wing.

  34. I’m not sure that correlates, Ele, but good on you anyway. Wonder why Keeping Stock does so poorly? Lower numbers than me and by all accounts from jabba, my blogs is shite. Wonder what KS is doing wrong? Oh, hang on… 🙂
    Yes, RBG, Ele constantly snipes at there Left wing parties and the politicians who align with them. I think though, that she isn’t aware of it half of the time, believing, as Tory’s do, that she is Right and has the Right to see the world that way and call it for what it IS! I enjoy your comments and don’t expect you to start your own blog in order to prove…well, nothing at all!
    Ele obviously does receive “assistance” with her blog and as you say, those “patterns” are obvious to anyone who browses political sites. What I find most interesting is what she doesn’t cover – haven’t seen much about the alleged victim, Murray McCully et al, despite the intense media interest. Sometime she’ll post on a topic that can’t be avoided, one that casts a dark cloud over Key or one of his minions, but quickly loads up her site with other harmless posts in order to shunt the difficult one off the front page. It’s a popular ploy with all sides, but I don’t do it, so few are my visitors 🙂

  35. TraceyS says:

    “…when I was a young teacher and bullied by a couple of Rightwing “school board” members ”

    Ah…”institutionalised bitterness”!

    Remember that term when you used against me, Robert?

    I am genuinely sorry for your experience. That would not happen in any institution that I lead and I’m an unashamed right-winger. I witnessed this same thing happen as a kid at my primary school against the teacher who believed in me and pointed me toward a public life. My mother, the school cleaner, walked in one day and saw the stand-over tactics first-hand and she talked about it with me. I’ve grown up to pity people who behave like this rather than hold grudges against them.

    I have no right to suggest this (but I’ve had a wine too so I will). It’s time to stop judging people by their colours. Move on. You will be more effective if you do.

  36. I am energised by the experience, Tracey and have been for years. I’m grateful to both men and while I don’t tell them so, I smile broadly when I meet them out and about (and at the polling booth where I was a scrutineer :-). They did me a great favour, waking me from my “ordinary slumbering” to a much more active life of outspokenness. They were the inspiration for standing for council, both being dairy farmers and National voters to boot 🙂

  37. TraceyS says:

    I see that my words were wasted on you Robert.

  38. Generally, Tracey, your words are just that.

  39. Gravedodger says:

    So there Tracey, Gud has spoke and his word is final, make that final again, no make that final for now, oh bugger it his last word is the whiner.

  40. TraceyS says:

    Your disaffection is palpable, Robert. I guess that’s why you come here guns all blazing as you do – to get a dose of reinforcement for your self-perception. I can’t decide whether you are vain or just very insecure.

  41. “Disaffection”

    Yes, Tracey. You got one thing right.

  42. TraceyS says:


  43. Mr E says:

    Don’t smile, laugh, snigger or show any emotion – you could disaffect Robert.

  44. TraceyS says:

    That’s a disappointed ‘smiley’, Mr E. One like a teacher might put on a student’s work when it is not up to scratch.

  45. Mistress Tracey & Mr sniggEr

    🙂 4u

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