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Coddington on our overgrown weeds

Written By: - Date published: 2:01 pm, June 6th, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: class war - Tags:

Tall poppy syndrome. It’s one of those useful, mindless terms that comes up again and again in our political discourse. Like its cousin ‘PC’ it is used to delegitimise any criticism the behaviour of those with privilege and power towards others. It survives because it is useful to an elite, not because it makes any sense.

Today, a former defender of the elite, Deborah Coddington, rips apart those who cry ‘tall poppy syndrome’ whenever the rich are accused of preying on everyone else:

“About the only thing Alan Gibbs has in common with Mark Hotchin is an interest in building a house in Paritai Dr, though Gibbs’ house was in good taste, was completed, and he left it many years ago to reside in London.

I thought about Gibbs’ liking for our poppy-lopping when I heard Mike Hosking leap to Hotchin’s defence.

“There is an undercurrent in this country,” said the broadcaster, “and it manifests itself a lot in the print media, of wanting to persecute people. Their sickle can’t cut enough tall poppies down.”

Hosking clearly thought it wrong a journalist had tracked Mark and Amanda Hotchin to their holiday resort. They had committed no crime, he said, just made bad business decisions.

Some say corporate wives should be left out of this. But in the past I’ve been on the other side, sharing in the spoils, then suffering reporters representing angry creditors.

I know how it feels, but creditors have every right to be aggrieved, especially when people who owe huge amounts of money continue living the life of Riley.

But does anyone see themselves as a tall poppy?

Wellington’s property developer Terry Serepisos believes he is. But in April, Serepisos’ carefully manufactured public image, on which he’d been working for the past several years – sponsoring the Wellington Cup at Trentham races, carefully posed photos with then Prime Minister Helen Clark – started to unravel.

Contractors working on his Century City Hotel told the Dominion Post they’d been waiting for 18 months for payment.

Serepisos said the bills were in dispute and, “I get that stuff all the time, it’s the tall poppy thing.”

Why are they this country’s tall poppies? Just because they drive flash cars, have made a pile of money, and have glamorous women on their arms?

They certainly prove that money, no matter how much of it they take – and Hotchin along with his mate Eric Watson took $91 million in dividends – can’t buy class….

…the rich-listers who have benefited from investors’ lost savings are not tall poppies.

They’re just casts from worms which might one day grow tall poppies, and they well deserve to be hounded for not paying their bills.

If these people died tomorrow, would they leave New Zealand a better place? I think not.

They are, as George Orwell wrote in his 1940 essay The Lion and the Unicorn, “an entirely functionless class, living on money that was invested they hardly knew where, the idle rich, the people whose photographs you can look at in the Tatler and the Bystander, always supposing that you want to.

The existence of these people was by any standard unjustifiable. They were simply parasites, less useful to society than his fleas are to a dog.”

21 comments on “Coddington on our overgrown weeds ”

  1. Jenny 1

    The trouble with parasites is as often seen in nature or in the world economy, is that by draining the lifeblood of the host they depend on, they risk sickening and sometimes even killing their host.

    Of course, the parasites can’t see this from their awkwardly situated vantage points behind their bloated engorged bodies. (or fortunes).

  2. Doug 2

    The trouble with parasites is as often seen in nature or in the world economy, is that by draining the lifeblood of the host they depend on. A bit like Len Brown sucking of the poor Ratepayers.

    • Tigger 2.1

      “A bit like Len Brown sucking of the poor Ratepayers.” This makes no sense and when a slam makes no sense it is an utter fail.

      • The Baron 2.1.1

        Makes a lot of sense to me. bastard property developers and left wing politicians expense accounts – both unlimited in their greed, both unlimited in their sense of entitlement.

        both utterly disgusting.

        both rightly pillored.

        • Tigger

          Thanks Baron, you obviously have some magic understanding of ungrammatical sentences that eludes me. And if we’re talking spending practices – Phil Heatley’s must leave you red with rage…

          • The Baron

            Heatley does, Tigger. Any politician with an engorged sense of entitlement does.

            Doesn’t help your mate Len that he is in that company though, does it.

  3. bobo 3

    Personally I think Tall Poppy died out back in the 70s if it ever really did exist as a mindset, its the opposite these days with “Small Poppy” syndrome where the media and talk-back beneficiary bashing is the norm, “them poor lazy bludgers” getting something for nothing or living the dream as Bennett puts it.. Just look at the pathetic admiration over celebrity and bling in reality tv that has been around now since the mid-90s, Key has benefited from this as most swing voters admired him for simply being rich.. thinking wow why would a 50 Million + rich guy like him want to be a poorly paid prime minister , almost like how kiwis are so flattered when a pop star buys up land in nz or says something nice about the country, they really couldn’t careless how Key made his money… Eric Watson, Terry , the other guy who defaulted on the metropolis developments, all metro media darlings of the time who are “aspirational” .

    • seth 3.1

      People voted for Key because he’s the kind of guy that kiwi’s aspire to being, and we were sick of the bloated welfare state that Labour was forcing upon us. The underdog who worked his way from nowhere to be successful.

      The fact you claim to know why “most” swing voters voted for him and his party is just a load of rubbish.

      You sound really bitter. Either that or envious.

      • bobo 3.1.1

        Bloated welfare state yeah right – record low unemployment under Labour .. You sum up my point well 🙂 mr disgruntled blame it all on the bludgers first time caller..

        Key had stable state housing, free university education paid for by the war generation, nothing particularly underdog about that from most other kiwis of the day.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Speaking of tall poppyism, I see the one-two smear machine of Slater and Farrar tried to splutter into life today.

    When it comes to the supercity mayoralty, Bhatnager, Slater, Banks, Farrar, Ralston and Boag all spell DESPERATE.

  5. RedFred 5

    Watch the Tall Poppy defence role out for The Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson who been livin large in Las Vegas. He has been travelling with NZ Post chief executive Brian Roche et al this most interesting given the Kiwi Bank connection…


    Spending up his large tax cut early I presume, oops that might be envy!

    AK47 and Boozing in Vegas, just the man to control access to the Prime Minister.

    • Doug 5.1

      I always thought Unions and the Left advocated for Holidays.

    • Jared 5.2

      How he spends his holidays is none of our business.

      • RedLogix 5.2.1

        How he spends his holidays is none of our business.

        But when he spends it whooping up large with some well known lobbyist’s in Vegas then it’s no longer just ‘holiday’… it’s political.

        Besides, from Eagleson’s actions I’m still entitled to draw my own conclusions about the character of the man, a man who is very close to our PM and filling an important role in our political system.

        • Lew

          Exactly. Not much use in the “partying with lobbyists” line, but — by definition — anything the PM’s Chief of Staff does is political and speaks to the administration’s character and standards. It was ever thus when Heather Simpson occupied that role.


  6. felix 6

    Doug and Jared, it’s probably best to wait and see what Farrar wants you to say about this. It saves a lot of backpedaling and contradiction later.

  7. Why use right wing men as an example, why not Suzanne Paul, shes the queen of using tall poppy syndrome and the media.

  8. What’s wrong with chopping down ‘tall poppies’, is that we should be bleeding them to make calming opiate for the masses instead…it’s just so wasteful.

    …though i reckon some poppies do need brought down to size. Whats hard is figuring out which ones to chop and which ones we let go to seed.

    captcha : ridiculous 🙂

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