Monday, June 3, 2013

Who's Norman trying to kid?

Russel Norman’s speech to the annual conference of the Greens, in which he compared John Key with Robert Muldoon, rated a 10 for desperation and a zero for credibility.
I’m no cheerleader for Key, but even to mention him in the same breath as Muldoon is laughable.

Norman arrived in New Zealand from Australia in 1997, and on the basis of his speech I would guess that’s about as far back as his knowledge of our political history extends.
None of the prime ministers we’ve had since Muldoon could be compared with him, for which we should be grateful. He was a vindictive bully who cleverly exploited the politics of fear and division, and never more so than during the 1981 Springbok tour.

In fact I would suggest that in terms of personality, Key is the least like Muldoon. Anyone old enough to remember the political unpleasantness of the late 1970s and early 80s – which probably excludes a lot of Green voters – would have reacted with astonishment to Norman’s bizarre attempt to compare the two men.
Muldoon's default facial expression was a snarl. Key's is a grin (or if you want to be harsh, a smirk).
Arguably, the politician who most closely resembles Muldoon, and who served his apprenticeship under him, is Winston Peters. Like Muldoon, Peters has a penchant for demagoguery. But even the New Zealand First leader falls far short of Muldoon’s menacing intolerance of dissent, though it might have been a different story had he ever won power.

There are only two possible explanations for Norman’s attack on Key. The first is that, as postulated above, he knows nothing about our modern political history (not that that stops him from promoting himself as a credible alternative leader). The second, which is even more worrying, is that he knows the comparison between Key and Muldoon is absurd but ran with it anyway. Perhaps he senses the Greens’ momentum is slipping and is prepared to resort to extreme measures to get some traction.
Whichever way you look at it, the speech will have done nothing to enhance his credibility, other than in the eyes of the terminally gullible idealists who make up the Greens’ core constituency.


JC said...

The speech and the increasing belligerence coming from the leaders might also suggest a change in the demographics of the Greens.. perhaps younger and to the left of old Labour?


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Karl

When I heard Norman make the comparison, I had very similar thoughts to those you have articulated. For a moment I even began to feel a little older, and even just a little bit wearied by his comments.

Are we so devoid of respect for each other that Norman feels able to make such erroneous and gratuitous comparisons?

Churchill apparently said that the best argument against democracy was a five minute conversation with the average voter. If he had heard Russell Norman's speech he would have had every reason to restate his case.

Jigsaw said...

Mike Moore said that Helen Clark was like Muldoon and and even that was only in a few aspects. I think the remark by Russel Norman tells us a whole more about him than he realises. Even more revealing I thought was the fact that many of the Green MPs during a question and answer time said that many other MPs(not from the Greens obviously!) were 'thick'. They seem to have an inbuilt sense of superiority.

Drongo said...

You say Muldoon "was a vindictive bully who cleverly exploited the politics of fear and division..."

This is precisely why Norman is correct. Key is in this respect exactly the same. Norman wasn't comparing Muldoon's snarl with Key's smirk. He was referring to their respective disdain for the views of the electorate, and their ideologically driven ideas that had nothing to do with a desire to improve the lives of most New Zealanders.