A mate of mine had a rather interesting run-in last night with a couple of drunken Tory backbenchers. Here’s what happened:
Last night I was at the Malthouse in Courtenay Place having a few beers with some mates when who should walk into the bar but a couple of National Party backbenchers. We struck up a conversation, and an enlightening one it was. Both Nats had clearly had a few and the rookie’s tongue was looser than I would have thought wise (I noticed his more experienced colleague was far more reserved).
He readily agreed that John Key comes across as ‘a bit smug but he’s a tough bugger and he works us like dogs, as he should’. We were assured that ‘she’ (Clark, presumably) would ‘knock that smugness out of him in the campaign’.
We were then told that ‘John doesn’t really know what he wants to do if (when, hah!) he becomes Prime Minister and he certainly hasn’t told us!’ But, then ‘He’s new to politics; he shouldn’t know what he wants. He’s just got to hit the right notes with the public’. I gained a striking impression that power was being sought for its own sake, not to make a better New Zealand.
Searching for some glimmer of a vision, the Nats were asked about where they thought the country should head. ‘Singapore’ was the answer: we should be looking to a city-state on the world’s busiest shipping strait that is run as a mix of autocracy and plutocracy as the model. Every mention of vision or policy was solely limited to economics: people appeared in the frame merely as commodities and factors of production.
So, maintain and fortify privilege for those who have it, that’s name of the game, and do so by ‘hitting the right notes’.
‘John’, we were informed, ‘could hit the right notes about 85% of the time’ much better than ‘English, who only gets it right 65% of the time’ (note who gets first names, the faction this backbencher sat in was clear).
At this point the slightly nervous-looking, more experienced politician decided it was time they extracted themselves before his friend started telling us intimate details of caucus sessions. We were left amused but more than a little concerned that this is the true face of the National party behind Key’s grinning faÃƒÆ’Ã‚§ade.
I imagine the rookie had more than his hangover to worry about this morning.