A brutally honest and unflinching article from The BFD by Cam Slater. A brave man. Right now, we need brave men. MH
Over the years I have met, had lunch, dinner, drinks or meetings with a vast number of politicians. Some were great, most were average, but none, with one exception, were evil.
I grew up in a political family. We had cabinet ministers and prime ministers over for dinner. My mother never really liked most of them, and I got my healthy distrust of politicians from her.
I remember one night her telling Aussie Malcolm chapter and verse why he was going to be unemployed after the next election…and she was right, he was.
I remember the night Jim Bolger was sitting in front of Mum’s grand piano, sipping a scotch, while Winston Peters was regaling others with stories while he stretched his arm across the mantlepiece, a fag in one hand and a Scotch in the other, warming his backside by the fire. Bolger was telling me, and a couple of others who were there, all about how Jim McLay was a really nice guy, but sadly nice guys finish last. Two weeks later Jim Bolger was knifing McLay to become the leader of the opposition, and then Prime Minister. Jim Bolger was even invited to my wedding, and I’ve still got the letter he wrote back then.
It was my father who was asked, by the cowards in caucus, to meet Jim Bolger at the airport to tell him there had been a coup while he was overseas, and that when he got back to Wellington the numbers had been done and Jenny Shipley was going to replace him.
I remember Jenny Shipley coming to my sister’s birthday dinner at a restaurant in Newmarket. I can remember Maurice Williamson leaping on stage and grabbing an electric guitar to play at my sister’s 21st.
I once went to Maurice’s house in Epsom to spend a long afternoon playing loads of Deep Purple, The Who and other great music at volumes that left us both deaf. So much so we never heard the neighbours pounding on the door.
I can remember my grandmother telling assorted ministers visiting us at the beach house her ideas on health care and hospitals, and those being implemented.
I can fondly remember the smell of cigar smoke wafting down the hallway of Vogel House to my room from the lounge where Doug Graham was reading the newspaper at six in the morning.
I was in the whip’s office and helped draft the caucus resolution that threw Winston Peters out of caucus, and I remember well Bill Birch (another MP I respect deeply) coming down to read the resolution before going to inform Bolger of what was about to happen. Those really were the days of smoke filled rooms, especially when chain-smoking Doug Kidd and cigar smoking Doug Graham were in the room.
I was standing beside Maurice Williamson when he was filmed after the 2002 election debacle and uttered his now infamous comment about needing to lance the boil within the party. That particular boil took nearly 20 years to get lanced properly.
I’ve been there and seen it all, up close and personal.
When it comes to Prime Ministers, I’ve met Robert Muldoon, David Lange, Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, John Key, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern. I think that in the current press gallery only Barry Soper can claim a similar pedigree. Hell’s teeth, I can remember Barry when he had hair and was visiting Dad’s place.
In 2008, I even had lunch with Jacinda Ardern over three hours in Morrinsville. I know she remembers it because when David Cunliffe was Labour’s leader and they were planning the Dirty Politics hit job, the members of the Labour caucus were asked if any of them had dealings with me. Jacinda Ardern, to her credit, owned up about the lunch. Stuart Nash skulked at the back and said nothing.
Politicians, by their very nature, are narcissistic, self absorbed and sociopaths. Very few of them have any compassion and those that do keep it quiet. To give you an example, when I had my stroke just one National MP bothered to come see me, and tipped up at the hospital even. No other National MP called, emailed or even sent a card. Only that one, very compassionate, and deeply misunderstood MP. Only one Labour MP bothered to message me. No, it wasn’t Stuart Nash. It was another, and his text messages to me late one night were a treasure. He knows who he is, and I appreciated those texts and those sentiments as they were heartfelt and compassionate.
Politics is a blood sport, but I believe always that we need to get past tribalism and polarisation in politics, and we very desperately need compassionate people in politics.
There are very few politicians who I respect; there are none, with the exception of one, who I despise. Helen Clark was a brilliant politician. I didn’t agree with her politics and still don’t, but she is one politician I can respect, for her immense will power, her stickability and her political skills. She fought to the very end. I have no respect for John Key. He thought he could sway a referendum on the flag, I told him he was wrong and would lose. It turned out I was right and he was wrong. That was the beginning of the end of him; he realised that he could no longer walk on water. But he also lacked courage; any man who rings another man’s father to pass on a message is gutless and beneath contempt. He bolted when he thought he couldn’t win again, and left us with Bill English, a staid and dependable Finance Minister but someone who has tits for hands when it came to leadership.
Most politicians enter politics stating all sorts of altruistic reasons why they entered parliament. Mostly they are lies, mouthing pithy sentimental tosh about making the world a better place. Parliament’s history is littered with MPs’ careers that achieved little other than enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.
Despite all their foibles I sincerely believe that most are not evil: misguided maybe, but not evil. Not even Robert Muldoon was evil, but he was surely misguided. He tried his best when faced with economic doom and oil shocks. He was ill-equipped to handle the various crises that beset his government, but ironically the very power systems and energy self sufficiency we now enjoy – and our great renewable energy that the climate change advocates bang on about – were a result of Muldoon’s and Bill Birch’s foresight with Think Big. The very projects that Labour and others vociferously opposed.
Which brings me to the exception. Jacinda Ardern.
When I had that three hour lunch with her I came away thinking that this woman makes a lot of sound and thinks she sounds informed and interested about the world and politics. But on reflection, at the time, I said to David Farrar, who was also there, that she was just mouthing slogans and platitudes. Bumper sticker slogans and rehearsed lines. There was no depth there, and there still isn’t.
She is my exception, the one I believe is actually evil, and here is why I believe that.
She is fake, more fake than a $10 copy watch bought in the back alleys of Hong Kong. She has claimed many, many things, like all politicians, about why she entered politics. She professes wanting to end child poverty; she even made herself the minister in charge of ending child poverty. She also claimed that climate change was her generation’s nuclear free moment. On both of those claimed driving forces for her entering politics she has failed massively and comprehensively. All the child poverty statistics are either materially worse or have barely budged. Her climate change commitments are joke. She wrecked an industry on a Captain’s Call and then presided over the largest imports of coal we have ever seen, into a country that is sitting on huge coal reserves. Every single signature election promise has been an abject failure. She told people she was going to make houses more affordable; their cost has more than doubled. She promised to build 100,000 Kiwibuild homes, but it turned out that she couldn’t build a house in a room full of Lego. She promised light rail to the airport and has failed to lay even a single centimetre of track. None of those things are evil, but they are all dishonest and show a predilection towards failure after bold promises.
She told us that she never lies, which was a lie. But since taking power she has grabbed unprecedented additional powers, moreso than even Robert Muldoon. With that power she locked us up, removed our freedoms and told us all it was for our health. Never before in the history of the world have so many healthy people been locked up and had their freedoms taken away, all on the pretext of protecting our health.
It was all to flatten the curve, she said, then to protect the hospitals, then to save granny, then it would be short and sharp, and it ended up being the longest lockdown ever. It was all lies. If we needed more capacity in the hospitals then why haven’t they provided it? Why did they spend $55 million on bribing and corrupting the media instead of building a purpose-built ICU-only hospital in Auckland? Why did they fund cameras on fishing boats and wallaby pest eradication instead of hiring more nurses?
It was never about health; otherwise the billions spent subsidising businesses to stay closed could have instead been spent on hospitals and health care. It was all about control and manipulation. She has gaslit everyone while smiling and frowning and stealing away your rights, your freedoms, and your democracy.
Her lockdowns have cost people their lives, postponed life-saving operations and cancer treatment, destroyed businesses, wrecked careers and worst of all scared people into being irrationally afraid, especially the children. Even though that is evil, that isn’t the real evil of this woman...READ MORE (And you won’t be disappointed I guarantee it!)