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Bastards Versus Assholes

Written By: - Date published: 10:53 am, August 12th, 2022 - 47 comments
Categories: chris hipkins, greens, jacinda ardern, james shaw, labour, Politics, Steven Joyce, trevor mallard, uncategorized - Tags:

There are necessary bastards in political life, and in developed democracies compared to everywhere else ours are gentle as lambs. Sure these animals get fictionalised like those in Chief of Staff,

Borgen

House of Cards,

Or The Thick of It.

Bastards are necessary. Assholes are not.

Bastards are people who do hard, impolite and very tough things to keep the system at a minimum functioning and at a maximum improving. Obama would not have got national healthcare through without Rahm Emmanuel. Rahm would have eaten West Wing’s Toby Ziegler for a snack.

Ardern would look even more ineffectual in policy delivery without the pure operator politician of Chris Hipkins. Arguably Minister Little is a necessary bastard to get healthcare through, as he did in Justice with excellent prison reform results. The comparison to Mahuta’s actual delivery is being watched.

Which brings us to the previous Speaker of the House. Trevor Mallard is a bastard. His track record is actually an enviable record of Ministerial reform, and a legacy of Speaker rulings easily the better of Lockwood or Hunt. He faced a very stern test when anti-vaccination mandate protesters encamped outside Parliament. As Bastard Designate he did what every single Member of Parliament wanted him to do and kept them from meeting with actual Members of Parliament (other than a few deniable sideline chats).

No other Speaker has been called upon to act to physically protect Parliament itself. Mallard’s actions ensured that every single Member of Parliament remained as they desired unsullied by actual citizen engagement.

Stephen Joyce was National’s best bastard. Again, looking back on his track record he achieved enviable degrees of reform and delivery. The amalgamation of MED, Immigration, Labour, Tourism etc into MBIE as finally a bureaucratic force able to stand up to Treasury, and also the rollout of the national broadband fibre , were two of his most important and enduring. He was their best bundler, their superior tactician, and they never got a replacement. He was flinty, commercial, overlooked for PM, and quietly crushed plenty of reputations to stay on top.

There are capacious volumes of assholes. They exist in both Labour and National. I’m not talking about the 80% of MPs who really are no use at all other than to vote when told. Assholes are well documented in such books as Nicki Hager’s Hollow Men, Secrets and Lies, and Dirty Politics. A few appear in court cases about donations to political parties.

One difference between bastard and asshole is of course whether you get caught. That may not be just but it is true in politics. As Team America explains for risk of defamation, some such distinctions are better expressed in fiction.

Another difference between bastard and asshole is in roles that bastards play that assholes don’t. This is where between Trevor Mallard and Sam Uffindell there is a simply massive gulf. Bastards are there to let specific people know who is really in charge. Assholes, well, you know what they do.

James Shaw felt bastardry last month. Judith Collins felt it, as did Bill English, Simon Bridges, and plenty of others. It’s not necessarily dirty work, it may well be bullying, but it is what we exceedingly polite New Zealanders do to exchange or check power.

Our bastards don’t operate in the world of Kenya or Papua New Guinea, where the imbalanced ratio of bastards to assholes in parliament generates actual fights.

But bastards we have, they are necessary, and Mallard was a good bastard.

Sam Uffindell, well, everyone agrees he is an asshole.

47 comments on “Bastards Versus Assholes ”

  1. Bob 1

    So, how much of being a bastard is acceptable? Where's the line?

    • pat 1.1

      the line is whether he's (or she) 'our' bastard or 'theirs'

      • weka 1.1.1

        not according to the post.

        • pat 1.1.1.1

          "I'll forgive Mallard quite a lot because he was willing to hold babies on his knee while being the Speaker. That imagery and narrative shift is gold."

          I rest my case

          • roy cartland 1.1.1.1.1

            The reply structure here is weird, took me a while to work out. (I think this was supposed to reply to Weka @ #2.)

            Isn't it more that bastards are capable of doing something good/useful, and arseholes aren't (or if they do, it's incidentally at best)?

            Oh, you've rested your case.

            • pat 1.1.1.1.1.1

              The case is rested…but i shall explain(even though it is apparently losing)

              My take on the post is a 'bastard' does the unpleasant/difficult things that are ultimately for the greater good whereas the 'arsehole' is unnecessarily or gratuitously unpleasant.

              Where that line is depends upon the beholders position in regard to both the individual and the subject matter….it is fluid depending upon your own position.

              Apparently a somewhat controversial statement.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.2

            snort, hardly. You obviously don't understand my point about babies and the Speaker.

            You said that the line between an acceptable bastard and an unacceptable one is whether the person is on our side or theirs. I pointed out that Ad's post didn't say that, he was quite clearly acknowledging the bastards on both sides as being necessary.

  2. weka 2

    I'll forgive Mallard quite a lot because he was willing to hold babies on his knee while being the Speaker. That imagery and narrative shift is gold.

    Have no problem with keeping the protestors and MPs separate.

    But he fucked up with the loud music and sprinklers. It's was anti-democratic (a precedent now set). It created further resentment in the part of the population who are already anti-government, and we are seeing a rise in anti-government sentiment. And it was just stupid. If we have to have bastards, let them be wiser than this.

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.1

      But he fucked up with the loud music and sprinklers.

      According to Ad...he did what every single Member of Parliament wanted him to do .

      I have to assume that Ad has some evidence to support this claim…you know, actual statements made by 'every single Member of Parliament' that they wanted Mallard to do what he did?

      I thought not.

      Bastards, arseholes (we are not America, yet) it makes no difference.

      Not a single sitting MP stepped forward openly to acknowledge the protestors. A protest centred around government bullying. Ruthless forcing of mandates for an novel pharmaceutical product of dubious safety and efficacy. Calling those speaking out on behalf of vaccine injured a 'river of filth'.

      All bastards. All arseholes. So far up themselves they're coming out their own ears.

      Roll on the next election.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        You want the Labour Government overturned, ousted, consigned to the refuse-heap, Rosemary?

        Be careful of what you wish for 🙂

        • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1.1

          Oh, Mr Guyton.

          You should've been a fly on the wall in town this morning as I was explaining to a 'I'm twice jabbed, had Covid, and you can stick your boosters up your arse Jacinda…' retail assistant that however much she may hate the incumbents…the chances are that the Nats, Act and any other party would have done, and would still be doing exactly the same as Labour.

          There hasn't been any real difference between these parties since the eighties.

          I took a while to list the various countries that, despite having sitting governments of different Wingedness to ours, their handling of Covid, of climate change mitigation policies and environmental / agricultural reforms have been very similar. Responses to affected parties (such as farmers to fertiliser restrictions and water protection schemes) who have questioned the viability of government intentions or rushed through legislation have been pretty on par with what we are seeing here.

          Anyone who questions, speaks out, or Goddess forbid protests find themselves being labelled as bullies, Nazis, misogynists, white supremacists etc etc etc .

          I am one of the growing number who is unlikely to ever vote again.

          They're all arseholes. Bastards, every last single one of them.

          • weka 2.1.1.1.1

            Anyone who questions, speaks out, or Goddess forbid protests find themselves being labelled as bullies, Nazis, misogynists, white supremacists etc etc etc .

            I guess that goes with your complete denial of the violent and extremist elements in the protest.

            • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1.1.1.1

              …your complete denial of the violent and extremist elements in the protest.

              Weka. Prove this statement or retract it. Nowhere, ever, have I denied the existence of such elements in the Wellington protest.

              I have, however, strenuously spoken out in support of the majority of the protestors who were not violent and extremist.

              And no…the old 'table of eleven Nazis' trope does not apply…I'm sick of it being used to tar the majority with a brush (supposedly) aimed at a tiny minority. It's lazy and inaccurate, and a slur designed to silence. You should be able to see the parallels with the trans #nodebate.

              • weka

                Weka. Prove this statement or retract it. Nowhere, ever, have I denied the existence of such elements in the Wellington protest.

                So now you're getting. You didn't. Likewise, this sentence is a nonsense in it's absoluteness,

                Anyone who questions, speaks out, or Goddess forbid protests find themselves being labelled as bullies, Nazis, misogynists, white supremacists etc etc etc.

                I'm sure you are sick of it, I'm sick of the inverse, which is why I engaged the above tactic. You do run denial lines frequently, and you use binary, absolutist framing. If you want to prove me wrong, tell me what you know of the violent rhetoric at the protest as well as the far right influences. And I'll tell you about the good people there and the amazing things that were done.

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1.2

            "Anyone who questions, speaks out, or Goddess forbid protests find themselves being labelled as bullies, Nazis, misogynists, white supremacists etc etc etc ."

            I know many people who speak out, question and protest.

            They are not labelled as you describe.

            Only those who fit the description, " bullies, Nazis, misogynists, white supremacists…" are recognised as such, so far as I can see.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 2.1.1.1.3

            There hasn't been any real difference between these parties [ACT (founded in 1993), Labour and National] since the eighties.

            Amazing – simply breathtaking.

            They're all arseholes. Bastards, every last single one of them.

            Reads like a 'river of filth' stance, whereas I believe there have been some decent recent representatives from those political parties, including (but not limited to): Georgina Beyer, Chester Borrows, Steve Chadwick, Annette King, Winnie Laban, Maryan Street, Georgina te Heuheu, Louisa Wall, and Dianne Yates.

            If you believe all these people are arseholes and bastards, then please seek help.

            • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1.1.3.1

              After what happened in Wellington, and the complete and utter rejection of all those who gathered and all of the issues they deemed serious enough to bring to the seat of government by all of the sitting MPs….yep, yep, it is what it is.

              As the Prime Arsehole/Bastard said.

              And I wrote "sitting MP"…so why you're digging up the expired ones I don't know. But if you must…. you forgot Catherine Delahunty and Marilyn Waring.

      • roy cartland 2.1.2

        vaccine injured

        Haven't heard that one before. As disingenuous as ever. Do you think everyone has forgotten that the "injured" declared the govt illegitimate and demanded the PM's immediate resignation? Then demanded to talk to them. Tell us you get how nonsensical this is.

      • weka 2.1.3

        But he fucked up with the loud music and sprinklers.

        According to Ad...he did what every single Member of Parliament wanted him to do .

        This is a lie. I'm sick of this kind of bullshit selective quoting. What Ad actually said was,

        As Bastard Designate he did what every single Member of Parliament wanted him to do and kept them from meeting with actual Members of Parliament (other than a few deniable sideline chats).

        There he is saying that what every single MP wanted him to do was keep the protestors from meeting MPs.

        If Ad wants to clarify that he also meant that every single MP wanted Mallard to spray water on the protestors and play incessant loud music at them, he can. But until then, stop making shit up to suit your agenda.

        I have to assume that Ad has some evidence to support this claim…you know, actual statements made by 'every single Member of Parliament' that they wanted Mallard to do what he did?

        Or you could just take it as the poetic licence that it was. Ad expressing his opinion that the MPs didn't actually want to meet with the people that were threatening removal of goverment and execution of MPs.

        Not a single sitting MP stepped forward openly to acknowledge the protestors.

        And fair enough. Had the protestors dealt with the violent rhetoric within their own ranks, it might have played out differently. But on what planet should people elected into positions of power meet with people threatening to harm them? Even on a logistical safety organisational level that would be a challenge. But politically and ethically it's a minefield.

        • Visubversa 2.1.3.1

          Absolutely, there were assholes walking around with "Alex Jones" placards – that aged like milk didn't it! There was one asshole posting that after "we won" he was going to eat the Prime Minister's baby. I hear there are never good reasons to negotiate with terrorists and I certainly did not see any of those reasons there.

          • roy cartland 2.1.3.1.1

            This is what makes me really sad. It's that, we're going to need to protest, a HELL of a lot more, in the coming years. Months! The most pressing issue is the catastrophic emergency, which won't be sufficiently addressed unless we demand it loudly.

            Now, the foot-draggers have even more excuses and reasons to ignore us or worse, simply because when they did follow the science in the name of public good, mobs like that appeared.

            And sadly, we'll need every voice, even the crazies; but how many will be turned off by allying with that level of unhinged?

            • weka 2.1.3.1.1.1

              yep. Imagine a Nact government and climate protestors and what might happen now. Loud music and sprinklers and upping that ante, thanks Trevor. And referencing the anti-mandate/freedom/convoy/whatever it was protest as why government should take extra precautions.

              • Robert Guyton

                Climate protesters would appreciate the cooling from sprinklers and the music as well, most likely (didn't the band play while the Titanic sank?).

                What's not to like?

                Thank you, Trevor, you wonderful man, you!

                🙂

                • weka

                  Mallard didn't do that for the good of the protestors. It was designed to stress them. That's fucked and anti-democtratic, and as pointed out, it sets a dangerous precedent that National will build on (Labour too perhaps).

              • roy cartland

                Totally. The Nats will just look to the UK (their source of ideas) and set about banning protesting altogether.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    But bastards we have, they are necessary, and Mallard was a good bastard.

    Sam Uffindell, well, everyone agrees he is an asshole.

    Wisdom comes in many forms.

  4. Forgive me, Ad, but I much prefer the English 'arsehole!'

    Much more ‘earthy’ and Anglo-Saxon!

  5. Daveski 6

    No mention of Mallard's assault? No mention of Mallard's rape allegations? I love your definition of a "good bastard". Sadly, it's a case of red is good blue is bad and then you get the reverse on KB. I despair for NZ politics

    • Ad 6.1

      No I made a specific point of complementing the Blue team for good and bad behaviours as well.

      The entire post is about a binary of behaviour, not of party.

      Figure it out.

    • Visubversa 6.2

      Mallard and Henare were two middle aged blokes who had an attack of testosterone poisoning in an inappropriate place. There is no comparison – even though the NACT troll farm has been out in full regalia proclaiming it – with 4 young men attacking a sleeping child in his bed.

  6. Bazza64 7

    The scale of bastidry to effwit was well documented in the great Ian Drury & the Blockheads song Plaistow Patricia, the opening line:

    ”Arsholes, Bastards, Fu**en C**ts & Pricks

    Maybe he is a little bit out of order though in ranking

    Rik Mayall as “Alan B’stard” could show you how it was done, he was never an arsehole but very close

  7. Belladonna 8

    The two are not mutually exclusive:
    Mallard fits your analysis of a 'bastard' (tough man, who gets through the legislation); while at the same time demonstrating 'arsehole' behaviour (fighting outside the Chamber, turning sprinklers on protesters, incorrectly labelling someone as a rapist)

    We have no evidence that Uffindell demonstrated any 'bastard' traits (hasn't been in parliament 5 minutes, so little chance to do so) – and his 'arsehole' traits may well prevent him ever doing so.

    Peters is another one who demonstrates both (his financial shenanigans are IMO absolutely 'arsehole' territory), but he's a highly talented political operator, with a keen eye to the main chance (what benefits Peters) – so definite 'bastard' traits.

    I don't know a lot about Joyce – although I have heard he's a bit of a micro-manager – but I'm sure there are probably some 'arsehole' behaviours as well as the 'bastard' side of the political operator. His somewhat smarmy and condescending air riles me – but I don't think that quite qualifies.

  8. Lukas 9

    Your post lost all credibility here…

    …and a legacy of Speaker rulings easily the better of Lockwood

  9. Hanswurst 10

    It's 'arseholes'. A. R. S. E. H. O. L. E. S.

  10. Jenny how to get there 11

    “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster" Nietzsche

    Violence begets violence. The tragedy of Trevor Mallard.

    The wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    …..he did what every single Member of Parliament wanted him to do and kept them from meeting with actual Members of Parliament (other than a few deniable sideline chats).

    No other Speaker has been called upon to act to physically protect Parliament itself. Mallard’s actions ensured that every single Member of Parliament remained as they desired unsullied by actual citizen engagement.

    I said at the time, (Here) that not engaging with these protesters and hearing their grievances set a very bad precedent for harsh policing of all future protesters.

    What if representative of the government had met with the Protesters and heard their complaints we may have been spared the violence that followed.

    I was reminded recently of what can happen if government doesn't listen to the people.

    Recommended essential viewing, for anyone interested in politics is the movie 'Winter On Fire' now streaming on NetFlix.

    Watching this documentary I was strongly reminded of the Parliamentary anti-vaxxer protests and following riots.

    Trevor Mallard completely mishandled the anti-vaxxer protest' and rather than defuse the situation, Mallard inflamed the situation. His thuggish and immature response and the violent clearing of the anti-vaxxer protesters from the grounds of parliament on his order, in my opinion moved Mallard from being a Bastard to being an Asshole, and possibly even a Monster.

    Thank goodness Mallard will no longer be allowed any position of responsibility or trust, in this parliament or country again.

    Declaration: I am no friend of the anti-science, anti-public health, anti-democratic, anti-enlightenment anti-vaxxers. In my opinion they are all Bastards – and Assholes every-single-one.

  11. Chess Player 12

    Surely there must be some examples of bastards and arseholes in the Greens, TPM and ACT as well?

    And are there no women bastards or arseholes?

    • Incognito 12.1

      Are you fishing or baiting?

      • Chess Player 12.1.1

        Just asking questions.

        Why are all the examples of Bs and As from the 2 major parties?

        Why are all the examples of Bs and As male?

        Do examples not exist in the other parties?

        If not, are those parties not really representative of the wider NZ population, where you'll find plenty of Bs and As?

        It's good to ask questions – at least for those interested in learning.

        • Incognito 12.1.1.1

          You need to find the Information Desk. Or learn how to use the search function of your internet browser.

  12. Stuart Munro 13

    A Stuff writer certainly puts Sam into the bastard camp. Entertaining though.

    • Mac1 13.1

      Very well written. Makes worthwhile points about checking aberrant behaviour early, and the difference that one's status makes. Most worth reading.

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