Like many other baby boomers I found that my political activism owed a lot to Rob Muldoon.
He was a disgusting figure. He was a bully, had strong fascist tendencies and was totally clueless on how to run New Zealand. Our current problems can be traced directly back to the stupidity of a number of decisions that he made.
One of his least endearing characteristics was to denigrate and abuse opponents. He had a real ability to sense what the average redneck was thinking and to channel this. The decision to allow the 1981 Springbok tour was a classic example of how he would trash international treaties and obligations, human rights and ferment mass disorder for political gain.
One of his classic one liners was to talk about “rent a crowd” demonstrators, suggesting that those who opposed what he was doing were not genuine but protesting for some ulterior reason or just for the hell of it.
The malevolence of his rule inspired many including myself to become politically active in the hope that we could do our bit to make our political leadership better.
John Key has been recently channelling Muldoon. This week he described the many thousand protesters who protested against deep sea oil drilling off the West Coast as rent a crowd demonstrators.
Key displays a similar amount of complete confidence in his own abilities and a willingness to abuse opponents that Muldoon displayed. And he is making decisions that have the potential to undermine New Zealand’s economy and way of life to a degree not seen since the 1970s and 1980s.
It makes you wonder if John Key is Rob Muldoon’s doppelgänger …