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My Dad the bowler

Written By: - Date published: 10:46 am, November 26th, 2012 - 21 comments
Categories: democratic participation, families - Tags:

My father remembers Labour Party meetings in our local town hall through the 70’s and 80’s. Staunchly Labour, Dad had many rousing discussions at the local pub with men of varied political persuasions – most of whom were his good friends. A heated debate on a Thursday night would often melt nicely into a friendly roll up at bowls on a Saturday.

Mum would never discuss politics with Dad and even with his eternal eye-rolling behind her back she never ever divulged which way she would vote in any general election. Later in life, unfortunately, I didn’t take Mum’s advice and instead told Dad that one time I had indeed voted for the Green Party (at the time I was a Recycling Education Officer), and in 2008 his Gen Y grand-daughter had voted for (gulp) National because she liked the billboards and John Key had promised $20pw in tax cuts…(she may have changed her mind, however, as she lost her position at an Early Childhood Centre when their funding was cut last year). Dad still loves us.

Now, Dad and I have rousing debates about politics and I’m the one who gets a teeny bit annoyed at his elephantine memory from the last 40 years, and his ability to pull up a quote from Muldoon’s era or a figure from Clark’s era out of the murky depths. I try and keep the dog whistles and wedges out of it – sometimes the generation gap makes that impossible.

He says people need to get off their arses and vote in 2014 – especially the 100,000 on the Maori Roll who didn’t turn out in 2011, or the 140,000 under 30’s who didn’t even enrol on the General Roll.

I say – well has he ever thought about why didn’t they vote? Maybe, civics education in schools is the answer or decolonisation models? He says – who cares why they didn’t vote – the point is they are the ones who lose out when a tory government is in power.

Hmmmmm. I suggest, how about Labour and Greens forming a coalition leading up to 2014 – it’ll strengthen the cause and get the Gen XYZ vote? And there’s always NZ First as a bonus pardner [sic] – at least it’ll be a move left-ish. He says bah.

Thanks Dad for cutting through the rhetoric and yabbering and bringing me back to reality when I espouse god-like advice from the extremes of either gossip or political or social theory.

He’s not always right, but experience counts for a lot. There’s a few of those wise older Kiwis out there with a good memory of what a strong New Zealand looks like, and a solid knowledge of our political history. Some of them are pretty good bowlers too.



21 comments on “My Dad the bowler”

  1. King Kong 1

    My Dad says that lefties are just whinging pansies.

    He also said that if Labour cared as much about getting deadbeats to contribute to society as they do about forcing them into the ballot boxes with the promise of free stuff on other peoples dime, they might actually win.

    • karol 1.1

      My dad used to say similar things – after decades of experience, study, working, reading and debate, I still haven’t been convinced.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      with the promise of free stuff on other peoples dime

      Time to end corporate welfare and farm subsidies then?

    • Dave 1.3

      Turns out a shit apple doesn’t fall far from the shit tree Magilla Gorilla…

      Yes, that is the single biggest electoral issue at the moment, for all intensive purposes MMP works fine, it would work better if the voting percentage was up over 80% wouldn’t it?

      hahaha or maybe we could have a short logic/ civics test in order to vote, troglodytes like King Kong, and half the National party voters wouldn’t be afforded a vote, might be a good thing.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      And yet all the evidence shows that it’s the RWNJs that are the whingers and the people looking out for handouts from the government.

    • millsy 1.5

      Well then, perhaps he should give back his free fillings that he obtained from the school dental service then, which he got ‘on someone elses dime’.

      And his free school milk
      And his State Advances money
      And his family benefit

      • Rob 1.5.1

        and he has probably over paid for it with his taxes he has contributed over a long working career. Someone has to pay for it.

  2. karol 2

    My mum and dad were bowlers.  And I recall the same as this:

    Dad had many rousing discussions at the local pub with men of varied political persuasions – most of whom were his good friends. 

    My dad was a middle-class, professional and a National Party voter.  But his mates were more often working men, skilled craftsmen or small business owners.  Politics have always been openly discussed in our family.  In my younger days I had many arguments with my dad, and some with my mum over politics.  Now my family just accept I’m left wing.

    Because I could never accept my parents political views and arguments, I had to work out for myself how to vote.  I developed a set of principles by which to judge any party or politician.  Hence I am not tribally committed to any party, but will make a choice each election to vote for the party and MP that comes closest to meeting my principles.

    I guess now NZ society has become more fragmented, people don’t mix as much with others of diverse back-grounds and views – except maybe in public/state schools.  So more inclusion of civics in schools, and more encouragement of local community organisations and activities may be the way to go.

    The MSM is also not helping in encouraging open debate among diverse people. 

  3. Bill 3

    Hmm. Remember how, not so long ago, the idea was simply to ‘follow the programme’ and Labour Parties around the world would deliver an approximation of some starry eyed state socialism? And how if they didn’t, then the vanguard of Leninists would (eventually) infiltrate the Labour Party and the unions to such a degree that state socialist nirvana was a guarantee?

    You’d be hard pressed to find a person more enthusiastic than me about the demise of that particular bullshit.

    But here’s the point. Back than, all you had to do was believe in the programme to one degree or another and you were a Labour Voter. (You may well have rejected the ambitions of the Leninists and the idea of state socialism and command economies and all that. You may well have identified with the idea of Labour’s social democracy and seen that as an end in itself. Regardless, you were a Labour Voter)

    Now what? What vision…even a wrongheaded, stupid vision, is there? What possible ‘better tomorrow’ are people holding out for? I don’t know of a single person who has a vision for something better who is able to reconcile that vision with anything on offer from any parliamentary political party. (Sure, you could cherry pick ‘okay’ bits and pieces like a manic bastard – but there’s no encompassing vision.)

    Everything seems to geared around ‘not as bad’ or ‘hanging on in there’ strategies…accomodating ‘what is’ as opposed to generating and pushing hopeful ideas of something inestimably better.

    There really is a paucity of imagination and courage in the discourse of ‘mainstream’ politics. And that engenders hopelessness which encourages disengagement which in turn opens the way for less than desirable politics of finger pointing authoritarianism.

    Happy days over the horizon?

  4. Bit different to where I lived in South London .If you had said you were Tory you might have been badly injured. Mind you that was at the final stages of the Depression. You just dis not fraternize in any way with “the bloody Tories”

    • karol 4.1

      Yes, I understood that difference from here when I was living in London.  There just isn’t that long history in NZ of being culturally divided strongly along class lines.  Class does exist in NZ, but it has operated a little differently.

      But, also, while my parents, and one set of grandparents were middleclass, my other set of grandparents were from working class Scottish stock.

      In London, I found most of my Brit friends were educated into the middle-classes, but came from working class backgrounds.  I didn’t really seem to fit into the mindset of those solidly middle and upperclass. 

      • BM 4.1.1

        Escaping the class system was one of the main reasons people from England immigrated to NZ.
        When the upper classes came down from England they’d moan about how hard it was to get decent staff and how no one knew their place.
        As hard as it may be for English born people to comprehend, we don’t have a class system, we never have.

        Funny thing is I get the feeling English people living here miss having a class system and feel a bit lost without some sort of pecking order.

        • karol

          NZ does have a class system.  It’s not so culturally embedded.  The differences here are more to do with income and wealth than with who your parents are/were and the associated behaviours.  It’s changing here though as time goes on.

          In the UK there has been a long history of class differences in dress, language, food, entertainment, behaviour etc.  Many working class people have developed a strong class identity.

          PS: I also lived in South London, and identified more with South than North London.

          • BM

            Big difference here is no one gives a toss if you’re wealthy or who you vote for, it’s the person not the identity that matters.

            Main reason why John Key is so popular, wealthy guy but is still very approachable and can get along with any one in any situation.

    • David H 4.2

      I lived in South East London thru the 50’s till the 70’s tough times. and all the bomb sites still everywhere, and yep the local Tory office was boarded up and covered in Anti Tory graffiti.

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    well, I am budgeting to pay membership fee and join the pahtay
    easy peasy, not japanesee, they call me the breezee

  6. Tazirev 6

    Bowling Clubs and Labour
    Back in 83/84 I was a committed Labour supporter, many a meeting was attended at the Hamilton Trade Union Centre to support one T. Mallard for the Hamilton West seat – “Don’t DUCK your responsibilities – VOTE MALLARD” was the cry. After a long and arduous election day door knocking and ferrying people to and fro to vote, we celebrated Victory long in to the night at the Frankton Bowling club.
    In the aftermath of that election and the selling out of the party faithful I lost my commitment for many years, even to turning to supporting the Greens in recent years by participating in election year signage erection etc, something which I do not regret.
    Recent events have now galvanized me to rejoin Labour to fight for the return of the party to the membership.
    I have paid my dues and look forward to the battle.

  7. Georgy 7

    My father was unusual in that he worked in the coal industry as a bulldozer driver but was national to the core. I recall the 1972 election when Kirk won. We went to the workingmens club for a few drinks. The radio election programme was being played through the loud speakers and every time another electorate went to Labour there was a huge roar. My father sat with his drink in his hand looking glum. Every time one of his mates walked past they gave him a hard time. At 8.00pm he said it was time to go home. When we got home and went into the kitchen I turned the radio on as I was fascinated by the whole event – however he walked over and turned off the radio and said we would be listening to records that evening ! ! !

    Little did he know that I was already a confirmed leftie by then. We had some pretty stern discussions in later years. He never lost his extreme distaste for labour and I could never find out why.

    • karol 7.1

      My dad was also an (adult) lifetime member of his local working men’s club.  I’m not sure how he survived with his support of the  National Party.  I remember going to a few social events/dances at his WMC when I was in my late teens with my parents.  Sports were their main unifying experience, I think.

      My father was a bit of a contradiction – supporter of capitalism, but was never into gathering material possessions or acquiring a lot of money for himself; critical of idle workers/’undeserving’ poor/bludgers, etc, but always willing to help his friends and acquaintances without expecting any kind of payment. 

      Real life is never as clear-cut as the stereotypes. 

  8. millsy 8

    At least all your fathers took a political position and stuck to it.

    Mine swung from support of Stalinist communism to hard core Ayn Rand-style libertarinism (and everything is between) depending on how he felt in the morning.

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