PC still going mad, it would appear

Written By: - Date published: 2:48 pm, September 14th, 2007 - 11 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

One of John Key’s first rebranding exercises after he took over the National Party was to dump Wayne Mapp from his position as PC Eradicator and try to distance the party from some of the more reactionary rhetoric that had become its stock-in-trade under Don Brash.

This makes a lot of sense from National’s perspective, because while constant bleating about political correctness running riot might rally the base, it’s somewhat harder to present a moderate face to swinging voters when your MPs are mouthing off about Maoris on the gravy train, attacking the Human Rights Commission and threatening to abolish the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Plus, there’s something kind of unsavoury about buying into a discourse used by right-wing extremists from Muriel Newman to the White Racial Patriots.

But on Tuesday both National Party insider David Farrar and our old mate David Bennett let the mask slip, with Farrar using the tried and trusted “PC gone mad!” to attack VUWSA on his blog, while Bennett pulled out the classic ”more PC nonsense from Labour” to criticise new rules covering agricultural contractors.

This is all rather low-level stuff, and given their recent performance there’s a good chance that Farrar and Bennett were both just horribly off-message. But it does beg the question of whether National is trying to quietly bring back its anti-PC rhetoric and, if so, for what purpose? Watch this space.

11 comments on “PC still going mad, it would appear”

  1. I don’t think The Standard’s attempts to paint the National Party as extremist right-wingers and social conservatives is going to work. The wolf in sheep’s clothing idea just doesn’t ring true. You guys just end up sounding like unthinking partisan hacks. You should take the lessons from the left in the UK, where they’ve learnt that this strategy just doesn’t wash with voters. It all just seems a bit petty.

    Sure there are neoliberals in National, just as there are plenty of neoliberals in Labour. And sure there are social conservatives in National, just as there are in Labour. But there’s been a significant shift to the centre in the NZ politics – or at least the creation of a “new centre” in NZ politcs – which means that neither Labour nor National can get away with pushing things too much further in these repugnant directions. The Standard needs to wise up this, or else it’d just looks like a silly front for the Labour Party. And I’m sure it could be so much more than that.


  2. Benodic 2

    But Bryce, you know very well that it’s still essentially the same National Party of Don Brash, Judith Collins and Wayne Mapp. They’re just better at hiding it. Look at the voting records of either party on any social issues – civil unions, smacking, prostitution etc. Sure, there are a few conservatives in Labour and a few liberals in National. But I think you’re disingenuous to claim there’s no difference between the two. Do you really believe National is any different under John Key than it was under Brash?

  3. all_your_base 3

    Have you read The Hollow Men Bryce?

  4. Tane 4

    I’ll let John field this one –

    Havoc: You would like to think though, as one of the major parties in the country though everyone wasn’t just, you know, toeing the party line and actually meant what they were saying.

    Key: Oh, absolutely. I tell you what, there aren’t that many differences between me and Don Brash. There really aren’t. There may be a difference in tone and slightly difference in style and that may amongst other things just reflect the generation difference. You know, I’m 45 Don is 66 and there’s just a slightly different tone from that that generation.

  5. John 5

    Hope Bryce catches up with the National tactics, more importantly I hope New Zealand does. They are only trying to look like they are moving to the center. If you want to see how they do it and how the media falls for it so easily see pages 126 and 127 of the Hollow Men.

    The difference is that Labour moved to the center and delivered. All indications from National and the papers leaked under Brash are that they will do differently in government than they say when gathering votes. That is why Key has such a problem with flip flops. He doesn’t believe what he is saying so he goes off message.

  6. Policy Parrot 6

    “Political correctness” as it is used by conservative and neo-liberal parties against their opponents, simply is a tool to denigrate any progressive idea without having to debate it on its merits.

    It is simply another tool of deception and distraction, to prevent the focus shifting to the unpopularity, or complete absence of policies promoted by conservative parties.

    The “PC” issue acts as a stooge, appealing to those who desire a fairer society, by attacking its least fortunate groups, claiming that the reason of relative hardship for a large proportion of the population is the fault of a minority of miscreants.
    When in fact, it is the political agenda followed by the conservative parties and their backers who have created the relative hardship. So in fact they are crying about their own sins? An underclass anyone?

  7. Obviously Labour and National aren’t *exactly* the same, and certainly the two parties have to create at least the illusion of a few differences! Likewise, the Hertz and Avis companies are also different from each other! But as with Labour and National, the similarities are more significant than the differences.

    This Labour Government has been incredibly socially conservative. Labour supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror. I assume The Standard does too? Labour pretty much supports the occupation of Iraq. I assume The Standard does too? Labour has regressive immigration and refugee policies. I assume The Standard does too? Labour is very conservative on gangs. And The Standard? Law in Order in general is very conservative with Labour. Labour is even considering importing ASBOs! The party is even spending billions more on defence. This is not a liberal government. And that’s why left political activists hate Labour these days.

    I’ll think of a few more examples over the weekend, and will also answer the other issues and questions.


  8. John 8

    Hmm, Bryce not sure how you define socially conservative, but last time I checked civil unions, equal rights for gay and non-married heterosexual couples, decriminalisation of prostitution, etc were not on the social conservative’s agenda.

    Labour does NOT support the war in Iraq as you suggest. And the war in Afganistan, well that country brought it on itself. That country’s government attacked first and a country attacked has a right to fight back. Otherwise, New Zealanders would be speaking Japanese right now.

    Not to say your views won’t become the norm someday, but until they do they won’t win elections because they are too far beyond where the average New Zealand voter sits.

    And if you can’t get elected, you can’t make the socially liberal changes Labour has managed to accomplish. There is always more to do though.

    The National Pary is learning the centre wins, but the problem for them is they think that they can do the wolf in sheeps clothing thing. It might work. It almost did in 2005, when the media and many voters fell for it. But, if elected they will have a hard time delivering on anything but their true socially conservative agenda. If they do that, they will be a one term government.

  9. Sam Dixon 9

    PC is a bit like Orwell’s ‘crimespeak’ and ‘crimethink’ (or ‘socialist’ in the States, or ‘counter-revolutionary’ in a communist country) – you shunt anything under one of these labels and it becomes wrong merely by being under that label – no further analysis is required, and, in fact, the use of the terms discourages further thinking.

  10. ak 10

    I forget who first said it, but I like the description of “anti -PC” rhetoric as “the final squeal of the thwarted bigot”. Sums it up really: just like all the progressive policies down through the decades that have now been accepted by the tories (exemplified by the flurry of recent flip-flops from the Jandalman himself), they have no arguments left so resort to incessant cant and abuse. A bit like their entire campaign since the last election.
    Winning is all that matters to these arrogant born-to-rule misanthropes; they have no real desire to improve the lot of humanity. They would happily drag us all back to Dickensian times – provided that they and their mates remain the King Dicks of course.

    Bryce is right to a point: there isn’t a huge difference between the poicy choices at present. But as John points out, this is purely the result of “innoculation” on the tory side – as outlined in The Hollow Men, a calculated and utterly venal strategy for the sole purpose of gaining power.
    The worrying part is the ease with which such despicable tactics are accepted by the swing voters. It points to either a huge deficiency or an outright bias in the media – something that is not easily remedied. I hope you have some choice tory quotes saved up, and keep up the poster campaigns!

  11. AK – you are quite correct that pragmatism is driving National’s shift to the centre. These are politicians with few principles or beliefs but just a office-seeking orientation. But you would be naive to think that Labour’s centrism is any different. As Nicky Hager says, he’s sure he could write the same book about the Labour leadership. Clark and co are every bit as Hollow as Brash, Key and co. Labour do their own innoculation every day it seems – jumping from left to right and back again in a desperate dance of pragmatism and deception.

    John – the Labour Government does indeed support the occupation of Iraq. It even sent troops there! And it refuses to ever have any criticism of the US-led invasion or occupation. This is essentially why NZ bureaucrats (such as MFAT) so easily stuffed up and thought it was fine for a govt enterprise to be involved in the occupation.

    And the invasion of Afghanistan was pure imperialism. You are quite wrong to say that the Afghanistan govt attacked the US – you’re buying into GW Bush’s bullshit there! And what’s so wrong with speaking Japanese? Sounds a bit dodgy… But yes, the poor countries bring it on themselves – they deserve to be bombed back to the dark ages, tortured and economically ruined. At least you Labourites are being fairly honest!

    And, btw, Labour is actually *opposed* to equal rights for gay and lesbian partners. This is why they made a conscious decision that gay and lesbians should be allowed to get married. Their civil union sham was a cop-out and a crime. It’s pure discrimination – not exactly socially liberal. Labour also cop-out over prostitution and made it a conscience vote which meant not of Labour even supported the private members bill in the house. The Labour Party actually decided not to have a socially liberal line on this. Likewise, a number of National MPs also actually voted for it, along with Act MPs etc.


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