www.mccully.co.nz 9 September 2006
www.mccully.co.nz 9 September 2006
A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays Apology
Sincere apologies from the worldwide headquarters of mccully.co. Our offering this week is both late and brief. The cause: a busy, but highly successful two-day visit to Samoa for the National Party spokesman on foreign affairs, accompanying his leader, Dr Brash. Before you ask, no, there are no suitcases of new revelations on the Taito Phillip Field affair. None were sought. And not even a cheeky photograph outside the Field mansion was arranged. Such initiatives could justly have offended our most courteous and generous hosts. Indeed at no stage did they, themselves, raise the Field affair.
The Samoa visit is part of a wider programme of relationship building and fact finding in the Pacific. New Zealand is overdue for a change of government. The nation’s leadership role in the Pacific, and its implications for the US and Australian relationships, require that the next government should invest now in a familiarity with both the people and the issues. And it is.
The two-day visit was an excellent investment. Meetings with the Prime Minister (who is also Foreign Minister), Deputy PM, Minister of Finance and lunches or dinners at which six or seven other Ministers were met, as well as key officials from the major ministries (PM, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Reserve Bank) provided a busy two-day programme.
Judging by media accounts little was missed at home. Parliament, reportedly, was right at its most unconstructive and personally abusive. Clearly no place for such dignified and refined personages as the National Party Leader and his humble spokesman on foreign affairs.
Ugly Labour Tactics
Subjected to critical analysis from abroad, the Labour tactics for the week appear extraordinarily foolish. Not just because they involve crossing a line that makes Parliament inoperable, but because it won’t work. The key to political salvation and public forgiveness for Helen Clark does not lie in brutal character assassination of her opponents.
First, both Clark and Cullen made public proclamations of ownership of the political thuggery that was about to be unleashed. Then Mallard was dispatched to ostentatiously state his intention of crossing the line that been observed for many years, that casts MPs’ private lives as off limits.
Both Clark and Cullen amazingly associated themselves with threats to release emails, presumably stolen from Dr Brash. It is now established that the emails "leaked" before the last election, were, in fact, supplied by Labour spin merchants. And both Labour and NZ First operatives have been placing their fingerprints, covertly but very clearly, over any emails that are now to follow. Clark and Cullen, and their underlings have left the public no room for confusion as to who will carry the blame from here.
All of which is crazy, crazy stuff. First because previous minor breaches of the code that protects private lives have always ended finally in equal regret, all round. But more important, it just won’t work.
Presumably Helen Clark’s mission is now, to borrow her normal expression, to "move on". But for her Government to "move on" requires that the New Zealand public should at least forget, and to some extent forgive, two appalling Clark insults to their intelligence.
By expecting the public to wear the cover-up of the Field affair, or to overlook completely the expropriation of $440,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund the centre-piece of Labour’s election campaign, Clark was always asking too much. To expect the public to swallow the two together was the grossest of insults.
Throwing mud at her political opponents simply won’t work for Helen Clark. All that will do is compound the over-riding impression of arrogance, and the impression that she sees herself as above the rules.
Displays of rank ill-temper and the mandating of personal abuse are no solution. The New Zealand public want to see mistakes admitted, responsibility taken and contrition shown. Nothing else will work for Helen Clark from here.