Helen Clark will have burned off a lot of public goodwill with her sour-grapes sniping at the National government. She certainly deserves to.
She says it’s hard to stand by and watch Labour’s legacy being unpicked. But as Paul Holmes pointed out when he interviewed Clark on Q+A today, National has left most Labour policies (Kiwi Saver, Working for Families, interest-free student loans) intact, much to the chagrin of many of its own supporters. Challenged to explain what she was referring to, Clark latched on to Gerry Brownlee’s comments about mining the conservation estate – only a proposal at this stage – but didn’t seem able to come up with much else, other than a vague reference to education.
But the real point is this. Clark and her party had their shot at government. They were in power for nine years, during which time they introduced a lot of policies many people heartily disliked.
Then the voters decided it was someone else’s turn. In case Clark has forgotten, this is called democracy.
She says she has tried to stay above the hurly-burly of New Zealand politics, but clearly she hasn’t tried hard enough. To use a favourite phrase of her own, she should move on.
I believe Clark went to New York with the blessing of most New Zealanders. But I also think they expected her to rise above partisan domestic politics, especially after the National government enthusiastically lobbied on her behalf at the United Nations and awarded her New Zealand’s highest honour.
Diplomatically, she has shown bad judgment. In human terms, she has exposed herself as a sore loser.