Friday, 19 September 2008

Hooton in full and a Maori perspective

I posted on Hootons column last night -

because I think it is a must read for every New Zealander before they head to the ballot box. It reveals some of the inner workings of the National party, and some of the ideological crap that went down in the last decade.

Hooton asked me to talk to a few of the media at the time of the Brash Coup. Despite liking Bill English , I was pretty convinced that he wasn't right to lead the party at that time so I was happy to lend the little support I could.

I remember Hooton ringing me distraught when he saw what was in the Orewa speech - I was in Alexandra with my parents at the time and they were bemused at all the phone calls. I told them there was a speech coming that could change the nation but not in a good way.

I remember reading it and crying.

A couple of days later on my return I was in Cuba Street have a quiet beer with some mates and Georgina te Heuheu wandered along. She was still shell shocked and her faith in the party that her families have supported for decades, had been dented.

There had been talk of her resignation and I could see that it was something that she had pondered .

I was glad she toughed it out. Georgina , the roguish Tau Henare , Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata and Paul Quinn have an important part to play in the future National Party .

They are successful , educated but they remain true to their whakapapa. They know that welfarism isn't the way to advance Maori - it will only entrench them in the mire of a government dependency.

And they will be able to work with the Maori party.

They will help National become the party it can be and ensure that the stream of racism that used to run through the National party dries up.They will stand beside John Key and lead this nation so we can get on with being the best country we can be with a shared future.

Here is Hootons column in full - email it to everyone you can.

I see that I’ve come under a bit of attack from The Prime Minister’s Office and also from Chris. All good, strong political debate for the most part, but there are a couple of things I would like to respond to.
First, yes, I do believe that Winston Peters is an evil influence on New Zealand politics and the use of the word “axis” was entirely deliberate, chosen as being more appropriate than “allies” or even “bloc” for the regime he sustains.
Peters is a person who has attacked Asian immigrants for being too rich and Somalian refugees for being too poor, and, in both cases, has known that to do so is wrong, with his friend Sir Robert Jones saying that, in private, Peters believes none of it. As Deputy Prime Minister in the late 1990s, Peters was actually a good ambassador for New Zealand to Asian countries because he and they knew that he did not mean the things he had said.
The same is true with economic policy. In 1996, Peters had attacked the Bolger Government, the Reserve Bank and the Reserve Bank Act, saying they were doing untold harm to New Zealand. He had ideas about how the operation of monetary policy could be changed in New Zealand that he took on the campaign trail. I am told that, soon after Peters’ appointment as Treasurer, then Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash met with his new boss and said he had read New Zealand First’s manifesto and speeches and, assuming Peters was serious, wanted to set up a process to review the RBA and the operation of monetary policy in New Zealand. My source (and you can guess who it may be) said that Peters replied: “Don’t worry about all that. The next election is three years away.”
I find that sick. It later had very important implications.
As close followers of politics will know, a National/ACT/United Future/Maori Party/NZ First Government was a mathematical possibility after the last election. The way I understand things, National, ACT, United Future and the Maori Party all agreed on basic terms about how such a government would operate, and the other party leaders told Brash to get in touch with Peters to discuss it. Brash never did, and the other party leaders were perplexed.
The reason, as I understand it, is that Brash had been so sickened by Peters’ cynicism from the time Brash was Governor and Peters was Treasurer that he simply did not want to deal with him directly, despite it being the difference between government and opposition. Instead, letters written by Peter Dunne’s Chief of Staff (and former Bolger Chief of Staff) Rob Eaddy were sent.
I am proud that John Key, who I support for Prime Minister, has now formalised that position.
And, speaking of pride, one of the times I was most proud to work for the Bolger Government in the 1990s, was when, after a particularly vicious attack on immigrants by Peters, Jim Bolger went into Parliament and declared that he had confidence that the New Zealand people knew the similarity between Hitler and the Jews and Peters and the Asians. It was an entirely legitimate comparison to make. It still is.
Both Bolger and Helen Clark should be ashamed that they dealt with him. I know the complexities involved in being leader of National or Labour under MMP, and I can understand why both Bolger and Clark did what they did in 1996 and 2005 respectively, but that does not mean I have to think it is OK to draw support from the closest thing we have ever had to a Nazi Party seriously represented in our Parliament.
It is appalling that a so-called social democrat like Chris is prepared to defend Peters.
All Peters’ themes continue to be Hitleresque. Just read “
Conspiracy of Conspiracies“. The imagery is right out of Germany in the 1930s. There is an evil other - “they” - who are trying to harm you. They are foreign. Secretive. And involved in finance. In 1930s Germany terms, he means “the Jews”. Chris is an historian. He knows this better than most. Yet he defends the Nazi.
My Radio New Zealand National colleague Laila Harre spoke about something like this on Monday on our regular slot on Nine to Noon. Laila talked about how she had spoken recently to a group ironically called “Drinking Liberally.” I won’t put the words into her mouth. This is what she said at
Laila: The odd thing is in moving as I do in slightly more liberal circles, it’s really surprised me, the patter that’s coming from people sort of the centre left around this and Helen Clark may be listening more carefully to those people than really perhaps is warranted, given the wider kind of public mood it seems to me -
Kathryn Ryan: What do you mean by that?
Laila: - around this issue. Well, I mean I was a couple of weeks in a new organization speaking to them, called Drinking Liberally and I was sort of quite surprised when my wee stab at Peters - thinking I’d be doing a bit of a warm up - went down like a cup of cold sick at the beginning of the discussion and there is actually an awful lot of defence in that sort of milieu of Peters and particularly of, obviously of Clark’s handling of him but a huge distrust of Owen Glenn and you know I would say in those circles on balance people are really are not convinced that Glenn is telling the truth.
So much for drinking “liberally”. So much for “social democracy”.
Clark too is an extremely dangerous individual. Those of you who work at Parliament should go down to the Select Committee Room on the ground floor of old Parliament Buildings which has all the photos of all the female MPs who have ever been elected to our Parliament. You’ll see Marilyn Waring, Fran Wilde, Ruth Richardson, Jenny Shipley, Ruth Dyson, Katherine Rich and so on. All of them look like regular people, happy to be in Parliament. But take a look at the photo of Clark. As an MP I have worked with has told me: “I sit in that Select Committee Room and stare at those eyes. Because I have seen those eyes before. But only in the heads of fellow trade ministers in governments where the leader of those governments is a documented killer.”
Clark has dictatorial tendencies. She has marched through the institutions. She has improperly brought the civil service under her control, including, most outrageously, the police. She has stolen taxpayers’ money for her election campaigns, deliberately broken our election spending limits, run filthy fear campaigns such as the letters to state housing tenants saying they would be evicted under a National Government, told lies about all this, and rammed through retrospective legislation to legalise her own staff’s and party’s crimes.
Constitutionally, she is far worse than Muldoon, whom people like Chris would eagerly have called a fascist in the early 1980s.
The Clark/Peters Axis? You bet.
And so on to Don Brash …..
The Prime Minister’s Office says I “was one of the architects of Don Brash’s deceptive, racist campaign in 2005.” The Prime Minister’s Office has obviously not studied its Holy Scripture (aka “The Hollow Men”) closely enough.
I first met Don Brash in early 1996 when Lockwood Smith was moved from the education to the agriculture portfolio and, after deciding that a good right-winger like me should prefer working with producers like farmers over civil servants like teachers, I decided to move portfolios with Lockwood rather than staying in education and working for Wyatt Creech.
Lockwood arranged for me to spend a day with Don going to farmers’ meetings in the Wairarapa. This was at a time when Don was very unpopular with farmers because he had raised interest rates (and thus the dollar) and so he was “fronting up”. He was brilliant on the stage and won over most of the farmers. Later, I was delighted when he was headhunted by National in 2002. He (and John Key) were the only two good things that happened to National that year.
Diane Foreman is a family friend and, in 2003, when I returned to New Zealand for my father’s funeral which she attended and I spoke at, she suggested to Don that he call me, because (and this is a bit macarbe) she thought I spoke well and she thought he might need a decent speechwriter. A little bit later, in April 2003 I think, I was out on the turps at the Corner Bar in Shortland Street, and heard rumours that Don was challenging Bill English for the National Party leadership and (because I have a, er, “difficult” relationship with Bill English and because I was pissed), I called Don at Parliament to urge him on.
From that call, I began working unpaid for Don to undermine Bill (sorry, Bill) and change the leadership of the party.
Don asked me to write his speech to ACT’s Canterbury conference in mid-2003. I remember this because I was driving over the Crown Range when he called. He asked me what I thought about politics and his political positioning. I told him I had been offended by the racist nature of National’s 2003 conference, when there had been a big slogan “One standard of citizenship for all New Zealanders.”
I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but just as Chris has pointed out in his “Natsy” comments - “Who do you lot think you’re fooling? You do Matthew a severe disservice by attempting to make him look as dimwittedly literal as yourselves” - I know that to use the word “one” in a political slogan has connotations beyond the literal. (Just think, seeing it seems topical, of “ein Volk, ein Reich, ein F├╝hrer”.) I told Don this. He did not appear to disagree.
Anyway, I then wrote his speech for the ACT conference designed to undermine poor old Bill, and Don ran it passed Roger Sowry and Bill and they obviously demanded changes, and I told Don not to return their calls but to deliver it anyway, and then to leak to Tracy Watkins that he had defied Bill, and she put that on the front page of the Dom, with the headline “
Brash defies his leader“, and Bill looked weak, and …. maybe The Prime Minister’s Office is right. I do do shitty things from time to time!
Then I pushed Don to do his controversial press conference at the Tamaki Yacht Club a bit later, where we really put the knife into Bill, and then …. the rest is history.
(Unfortunately for me, Don was forced to do the Tamaki thing a week earlier than I had planned, and I had law exams, so I couldn’t go to Wellington for the vote, so Catherine Judd arranged for Byran Sinclair to do the media work instead, so I missed out on being part of all the drama …. )
Anyway, I kept in touch with Don. I couldn’t get a job in his office because Murray McCully and a couple of others weren’t keen. We kept talking and I was a bit surprised when I had a meeting with Brash, Sinclair and Peter Keenan at Brash’s home when they had a copy of a Crosby Texter memo that had been sent to
Michael Howard recommending, among other things, picking a fight with an unpopular minority. With the foreshore and seabed issue hot at the time, Keenan was strongly recommending Maori be the target.
I was also surprised when, a bit later, at a private dinner at Don’s place in January, with Don, Je Lan, Lockwood, his girlfriend Alex, me and my wife Cathy, that Don seemed unusually interested in the future of the Maori seats. And then it came to the fateful Orewa speech.
I was sent a draft for comment and I hated it. The truth is, I’m a “sickly white liberal”, as Peters would describe it. I got Diane to pay me to write an alternative that had the same policy ideas (because they had been agreed by caucus) but which wasn’t as nasty in tone.
I got Je Lan Brash on side but Don chose the Peter Keenan draft, and, politically, that was the right call. In a sense, it was fair enough for Keenan to call me, as reported in “The Hollow Men” “an idiot”.
Nevertheless, I caused a bit of a fuss. I had paid for a table for 10 at the Orewa speech. Ironically, I had invited Diane and Bill Foreman to join my table. When it was confirmed to me that Brash was going with the Keenan speech I cancelled my table. Lockwood tells me there was a gap, which he - as local MP - was embarrassed about, but which I am quietly proud of.
I probably should have stuck to my guns, but when Don went up 17 points in the polls, I decided he would be prime minister and I gained nothing from not being his mate. Also, I do admire him, despite all the above. That’s why there were so many emails from me in “The Hollow Men” that I am embarrassed about.
One communication that is not in “The Hollow Men” is when I contacted Lockwood after the first “Iwi/Kiwi” billboard came out and said “fuck you, that’s it, I’m not voting for you”. Lockwood calmed me down and said, perhaps fairly, that I had made a lot of money out of Treaty of Waitangi issues and perhaps that was distorting my judgement and making me more angry than I would otherwise be. Old Lockwood is a bit more astute when dealing with people than he is given credit for.
I have a good relationship with Don now. We do not talk about these matters. He knows that I think the Orewa speech was appalling. I expect he thinks I am a bit wet. I do think the 2005 election was stolen from him by a corrupt Labour Government. But then I also think John Key will make a better leader in the 21st Century than he would have.
So there we go. A very long post.
Clinton Smith, or whatever your name is, call me a liar. That’s just politics.
But I was not involved in Brash’s 2005 campaign.
And the reason I supported Don for leader was, ironically, because I thought, wrongly, that he was a liberal in the Ruth Richardson, Doug Graham, Lockwood Smith, Katherine Rich wing of the party where I am most comfortable.

1 comment:

Inventory2 said...

Great post BB - it's excellent that National has an emerging Maori caucus - but I still wouldn't be at all surprised if the Maori Affairs Minister after November was the Hon Pita Sharples.