Which trait do you find least objectionable in your next Prime Minister … being clueless, or arrogant?

That’s the choice I’m stuck with as I ponder my party vote next Saturday. Because I do feel I should be choosing — on positive grounds — the leader of the next government. Not voting for some minor party that might, on a good day, have some marginal influence on that leader.

But then I read Jonathan Milne’s interviews with John and Helen in the Sunday Herald. You can read them here: John and Helen.

Let’s start with John Key and clueless. Here’s the exchange that caught my eye:

Herald: As tourism minister, how comfortable would you feel marketing New Zealand as 100 per cent Pure when you’re not committed to taking a lead on emissions reduction?

Key: I don’t think we need to lead the world in climate change – that’s been my point. I think we certainly need to play a part when it comes to climate change, and in that regard we’ll stay in Kyoto, we’ll honour our obligations, and we’ll have a balanced emissions trading scheme. But I think there’s a vast difference in arguing we need to be a world leader and closing down our economy.

Herald: But surely 100 per cent Pure is about leading the world, about being the best.

Key: No, I think 100 per cent Pure is about how New Zealanders feel when they walk out into a wide open landscape, in a sparsely populated country where you’re over whelmed almost by that sheer beauty and cleanliness. The drinking water is still great; the air quality is great; you can see the stars when you look up at night.

Hellooo John! There are plenty of places where you can see natural beauty and stars. Most of them are not utterly dependent economically on exporting farm products (produced safely, healthily and sustainably) and attracting tourists from abroad, as NZ is. To say nothing of the moral imperative to be clean and green.

The environmental bar has been lifted so high, appropriately, that I fear it’s beyond John’s vision. The inter-relationship between environmental and economic well-being is so strong and inescapable that NZ’s next leader simply cannot champion one successfully without the other. Whatever re-tuning John thinks the ETS or RMA might need, the bigger picture assumption voiced by his interviewer is absolutely correct — basing NZ’s economic viability on “100% Pure” requires being the best in class … and that will require some heavy lifting. Of this John seems clueless.

But then there’s Helen and her arrogance … consider this exchange in the Herald:

Herald: I would like to ask you what your biggest regret is about your handling of politics and policy in the past three years.

Helen: I have no regrets, and I wouldn’t even dream of trying to manufacture them.

Herald: I’m sure you do have some regrets.

Helen: No regrets. Never look back.

Whoa Helen! No mistakes; no regrets?! This is the kind of hubris that only nine uninterrupted years in office can create. Personally, not that BayBuzz readers should care, I believe that Labour has bungled health care miserably, that it has treated environmental protection as a nuisance issue the Greens keep harping about; and that Helen’s steadfast devotion to the corrupt Winston Peters (repeated in the Herald interview) is appalling. But that’s just me.

Whatever your politics, wouldn’t you like to have the peace of mind not to have made any mistakes or hold any regrets about your discharge of responsibilities over the past decade?!

Confidence, a “glass half full” perspective, a “can do” attitude — these are admirable traits. But not to be confused with arrogance … which in an elected official translates into not listening, not learning, not adapting.

And the times ahead certainly call for listening, learning and adapting!

So as the November moment of truth draws near, I’m more and more frustrated about the choice I’ll need to make. Clueless or arrogant … in politics can we never escape the “lesser of two evils” conundrum?


Join the Conversation


  1. The choice is obvious: action on climate change and water pollution; social fairness and community respect; integrity and trust. Don't vote clueless or arrogant, vote Green.

  2. Tom -early on [above] you say:

    "Not voting for some minor party that might, on a good day, have some marginal influence on that leader."

    As an astute person I maybe would have thought you might give just a wee bit more credit for the acheivements of the Greens over the last three years. If you are not aware of them -then I would suggest your comment lacks substance & credibilty .

    Who got 5 private members bills thru etc etc.

    Marginal influence ???-I don't think so!

    It's all on the Greens website.

    It's time some people got their heads around MMP !

    The FPP system delivered a government that won more seats but less total votes than the party who lost. Democracy?

    Without a knowledge of the history of NZ elections I don't blame you & others for persisting with the hangs ups of FPP,

    The answer is clear to me – Party vote Green and start to have an alternative to RED or BLUE !

    More importantly start to make 'Clean & Green' an accurate & honest catch-cry.



  3. I have that exact same quandry, but with the two main local candidates. The worst part is I can't figure out who is which…

  4. It's election eve and, to quote 'Waking Life' "Do you want the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right?" I agree Tom, what choice does one make when all choices have barbs attached? I have been so angry with the Green party's naive endorsement of Bradford's idealistic anti-smacking bill and been irritated when in conversation with Green Party members at their inability to listen to any opinion which might contradict Party doctrine. It drives me up the wall when they put the silly woman third on the list and base their ideologue on a treaty I consider to be illegal and parasitic. Who decreed environmentalism must always marry socialism and well meaning, but let's face it, the social experiment on thought control (ask the Marxists) that is, political correctness? Yeah Bradford's existence in the Green Party infuriates me to the point where I almost considered not voting at all this year. I really hope she hasn't had that effect on the other 599,999 people who signed the petition because if she has then she's done a better job on the Greens than even a Monsanto or Shell plant could've!

    But I am going to vote this year. And as usual it's going to be for something that I think is more important than any other issue. Unlike John Key I think the environment isn't just a doco on tv in the corner of the sittingroom. I think my kids and I will be breathing, drinking, sleeping and laughing the environment till the days we die. Unlike smarmy Helen I would never patronize people with talk of "insulation for houses" and "mustn't forget the environment in this current climate of economic crisis" while endorsing a false safety system like aunty ERMA.

    Two things which will get me out voting tomorrow: Genetic Engineering: causing disasters all over the world. Check out Africa- ask them about intellectual property rights, talk to Brazilian farmers or farmers in Canada or Mexico. Anyway just check out GE Free NZ or if you want hard copy reading matter there are two metres of my bookshelf at home devoted to the subject.

    The second thing is WATER. We have a composting loo and I feel holier than most thou s on this subject. One brief stat: 3% of the world's water ISN'T salt, two thirds of that is (currently) locked up in the polar caps, which leaves 1% left for the earth to drink etc and we shit in it.

    I'm afraid the only party which gives a damn about this is the Greens so I'm heading down to the poll tomorrow and I am going to vote for Jeanette and Sue Kedgeley and for the memory of Rod. Thanks for listening.

  5. When one has a policy of non-violence it is total. That is what makes the Green Party different from the rest.

    Teaching children that violence [smaking & worse-often!] is a way to sort out problems is part of our culture that needs to change


    Sue Bradford is not a silly woman – as many claim [ sadly even my friend Kate!] -just go look at her life- her qualifications- the violence she has been subject to in her past – her battles for workers right etc over a vary long period.

    Debate the issue for sure- but play the ball not the player [actually 100.000's of players in this case].

    In any case section 59 is no longer – move on!!!

  6. Dave, not many people would argue against a belief in non-violence. It's an admirable thing, something to aspire to in one's own life though not to have imposed on from "above". My charge against Sue Bradford and those in the Greens who support her is a charge of complete lack of imagination. Between the idea and the outcome is the long road of Process. Let's face it the idea was to penalize those people who bash their kids, take away the loop holes through which they've been slipping and (hopefully) prevent future episodes. Sounds great in theory. But the Greens have the idea that everyone is equal and therefore the same and needs must be legislated for in the same way too.

    Enter the no smacking bill and what the Greens actually achieved was this:

    1.The scum that bash their kids are still bashing their kids because they never gave a damn about the Law anyway.

    2. An enormous number of New Zealand parents whose children aren't in gaol or sniffing glue or in hospital covered with bruises, have been turned from perfectly ordinary parents who occasionally smack their kids into potential childbashers at the mercy of "police interpretation".

    3. An already fragmented community has been turned into one of paranoid parts constantly looking over their shoulder in case some well meaning school-yard toadie reports them for smacking wee Ben on the leg for trying to charge out in front of a truck.

    4. Nanny State has been given pretty much carte blanche on interfering with private family life whether those families are a burden to the State or not.

    5. Despite loud public outcry including an enormous petition effort post passing of the bill, the Greens marched on, flying in the face of Democratic Principal and decided to impose an ill-thought-out piece of legislation on the ordinary people of New Zealand based on one woman's extreme personal experience. This is how dictatorships work, not how I thought gentle Greens worked.

    6. Lastly, and most importantly to me, in allowing this silly woman her head, the Greens have without doubt lost precious votes which might have given their opinion more weight under this new unenvironmentally aware government. The health of this land, its (shaky) GE Free status, its waterways, its arable soil, its seas and forests, its ability to survive the coming trials of Peak Oil and Global Warming, over population, and the chances of a truly clean green New Zealand being around for my great grandchildren and thousands like them will always be of more importance to me than the equal rights conferred on childbashing scum by legislating for all of us.

    Here's a solution for you Sue Bradford. It's unpalatable but effective and would've actually gained votes for the Greens. How about nonviolent sterilisation of all convicted childbashers?

  7. Good on you Kate for calling the anit-smacking for what it is – petty interference in the lives of good families. Bradford admitted that her bill was not aimed at preventing real child abuse, which, as you say, has not abaited in the slightest as a result of the bill. Marxists have always wanted to control what happens in families in order to pursue their dream of creating paradise on earth. If only they can get more control they can usher in the golden age. To me the irony of the Marxists in Western countries is that when their friends in places like USSR, the old Eastern Europe, China, Zimbabwe, etc. (ad nauseum) do get control, they bring their people to poverty, they pollute worse than any other group on earth and they have to build walls to prevent their people escaping to the wicked West. Unfortunately it is true that all power corrupts and total power corrupts totally. Is it that people like Sue Bradford cannot see the failure of the Marxist's bloody 20th Century, or do they think that they wouldn't do what their comrades around the world have done so consistently.

    Do the Greens have an officiai position of pacifism? If so, has Sue Bradford ever been involved in any violence in her years of very vociferous protesting?

    Let's hope the Greens will support good conservation measures regardless of whether they are promoted by a Green or by Rodney Hide, who was the only qualified environmental scientist in the last parliament.

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