Thursday, 18 December 2008

Helen Clark's greatest achievement

by Auckland union activist Two valedictories: 1. Paul Holmes gave his last ever morning breakfast show this morning before retiring. Special guest of honour was his mother. After hamming it up at the mike and asking in her best little old lady voice, "is this the thing I have to speak into", she claimed that Paul didn't inherit his ability with the spoken word from her, before she went on to disprove it. She spoke of the hard times her son had experienced when he first moved to Auckland to host the morning show for 1ZB. For the first few months of his new job 1ZB radio morning ratings were their worst ever. To loud applause from the live audience, she said, that if the 90 day bill had been in existence then, her son Paul's career would have probably been ended there. 2. On the same day, Helen Clark was asked on TV1 what was her greatest achievement of her 9 years as head of the Labour government. She seemed quite stumped. After some classic waffle, that there was just too many things to put into a book, she finally came up with the return of the unknown warrior to his tomb in Wellington. What? No ground breaking advances in human welfare, or justice, or social, or labour rights policy? No world leading initiatives to protect the environment? No raising the standard of living, for the majority, at the expense of the privileged minority? Nope, nothing like that comes to mind. Instead, one single overblown act of jingoistic pageantry. This belated effort to glamorise a historic imperial conflict was a popular move with militarists, army officers, jingo nationalists, war on terror supporters, military historians and Herald editorialist's. Unfortunately for Helen Clark these people's votes don't amount to a hill of beans and they probably all vote National or Act anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Dominion Post (November 2004) reminded us that Prime Minister Helen Clark is also minister for arts, culture and heritage. Under that subhead, the paper carried an article by the multi-minister; “reflecting on our maturing sense of national identity”. To Helen Clark,” our maturing sense ” is a preoccupation with selectively remembered mass murder.
The first half of her article was a gushing sentimental rehash of the Unknown Warrior commemorations, concluding:
“More than 80 years elapsed from the time Prime Minister William Massey first explored the idea of a New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior to the day we welcomed home a young man whose life was cut short by war.”
Helen Clark writes as though the poor bastard had somehow been resurrected. No young man “was welcomed home” last November the 11th. The youth and prospects of the anonymous victim died the day imperialism butchered him in the mud of France.
The only thing Helen Clark welcomed in Wellington last Armistice day was a whitewash of capitalist history.
Helen Clark’s article went on to claim that:
“In many ways we seem far removed now from times of war”. She dared to write that sentence only a few months after the biggest international antiwar demonstrations in history opposed the US invasion of Iraq.
At the time, Helen Clark dismissed the thousands of New Zealand antiwar demonstrators as “relatively small protests”.
But the Prime Minister is not so far removed from times of war that she’s unable to send SAS troops and military engineers to assist America’s butchery in Afghanistan and Iraq. She’s not so far removed that she’s unable to fawn on George W Bush at international conferences and describe him as “engaging”.
What Helen Clark is very obviously not removed from is an inflated sense of her own importance. The Prime Minister rounded off her Dominion Post article with one and a half solid columns of self congratulation; vis; “The government is supporting the expression of New Zealand pride and national identity through a wide variety of projects and programmes.
Five of the seven listed projects were “war time memories” in website, book, and architectural form. Helen Clark says they will all “help to define New Zealand as a proud and confident nation”.
There is no one New Zealand nation. The reality beneath the political claptrap is an assortment of classes with conflicting interests occupying various sections of two main islands. Helen’s war glorifying propaganda is designed to condition the thinking of those of us fated to face the guns next time capitalism demands conscripts.
Don Franks
(first published in The Spark, November 2004)