Clark on Q&A

April 6th, 2009 at 5:57 am by David Farrar

Some interesting parts to the Clark and Davis interview on . I do have to say though that I hope it will not become a permanent feature having an MPs partner on with them.

PAUL Exciting times. Looking back, what was the biggest mistake you made as Prime Minister, I’m sure you’re not gonna tell me your biggest mistake, can I change the question. What is the thing that you did which if you looked back you might do differently?

HELEN No I wouldn’t even go there because I never look back, that’s part of my style, I know journalists often got fed up with me saying move on move on, but I do. You know in politics there’s always an opposition employed to pick over the things you’ve done and why this why that why not the other way, well let them do it but I’m moving on to the next thing.

It is a real pity that Clark won’t answer this question, because I think you learn a lot from a person when they talk about what they would do differently. And while one should not dwell over long on mistakes, I find it useful to acknowledge them and learn from them.

PAUL Not so the one MP who’s name we cannot remember who did not stand up. Peter can I ask you this seriously, what was Helen like in the weeks or the days and the weeks after last year’s electoral loss?

PETER I think she felt rejected basically, because she felt she’d done a good job which I also believe and had put her best foot forward and had been frankly an almost incomparable Prime Minister and yet somehow the public had not seen that the same way. So it took some time for her to frankly come to terms with that and if I was in that position I’d feel the same way I guess.

This has a bit of an attitude about how the public made the wrong decisions, and Labour/Clark did nothing wrong. The reason I say this, is not to swipe at Davis, but because from all accounts most of the Labour Caucus are still in this space. They think John Key just conned the public and all they have to do is wait for him to be exposed.

FRAN Yes she has but I think it’s more than just you know meet and greet and all of that, I think where has scored is she’s also made a contribution and I saw her for instance one example chairing the OECD ministerial in Paris in 2003, and that was probably her first forum where she brought together a number of players, it was after September 11, there was a big you know fracas going on between Europe and America at that stage over the invasion of Iraq which had just happened but she brought together some disparate players to talk about what they could do to move economies forward and particularly also on the trade dialogue, so she chaired that, other actors paid tribute to her, so I’ve seen it there and I’ve also seen her at APEC where she has quietly moved a number of issues on to the agenda, for instance climate change in Korea, it wasn’t on the agenda, Australia claimed credit for it later but she put it there.

I quote this part from Fran, partly because it does highlight where Clark was skilled, but also to balance Fran’s later comment.

FRAN Well that’s right and it was interesting that she said she’s been empowered to do exactly that by Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General. I’d like to just go back, I think she will shake it up and she’s had that track record in New Zealand but one thing that struck me from that interview was that slight disconnect about not understanding why Helen Clark was voted out despite being competent, and to bring to the point one of the issues really was this issue about democracy in New Zealand with the , that and together with Winston Peters that long running scandal that basically cost her her leadership here.

Disconnect is the right word for it. Now Labour have at least done a mea culpa over the Electoral Finance Act, but that was only one part of an arrogance the Government displayed on everything from the pledge card to Winston Peters. Frankly Labour should apologise for their disgraceful behaviour at the Privileges Committee and afterwards. Those MPs are not stupid and they all know that Winston knew about the donation. Yet they covered up for him. Until we get some mea culpas for that also, I’m not convinced they have understood why they lost the election.

Tags: , , , , , ,

28 Responses to “Clark on Q&A”

  1. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Did Helen get interviewed for her UN position? I ask because in many interviews, the interviewee is asked to tell the panel about his or her weaknesses or their biggest mistake. I can imagine Helen’s reaction when asked such a question. “Move along”.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. homepaddock (434 comments) says:

    This is the woman who told Colin Espiner that if we don’t learn from history we’re doomed to repeat it. How can she learn from hsitory if she doesn’t look back? http://homepaddock.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/theres-none-so-blind/

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Grant Michael McKenna (1,157 comments) says:

    “John Key conned New Zealand” is exactly what I hope Labour says for the next twelve years; I am not eager for them to realise their mistakes.
    Then when John Key retires, and the next National MP is returned as PM for the next nine years, they can say that that person conned NZ, and so on, and so on. Let them huddle around their politically correct analyses- and let National run the country. They get to feel sanctimonious, and we get the work done. Best of both worlds, really.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. arkhad (66 comments) says:

    Can someone please tell me which MP did not stand up at Clark’s farewell – I seem to have missed a beat here.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    Thank you for posting some positive material about HC as well as the attack stuff.

    I do think, however, that there are a number of errors in your material attacking her:

    1. “Post hoc ergo propter hoc.” Fran made this mistake initially ( a journo making that mistake – shock!), but you decided to agree with her. Fran says Labour lost cos of the EFA and the Winston thing. As I recall the polls had shown Labour consistently double digits down on National even before the introduction of the EFA, and over a year before any of the Winston stuff came out. Unless, in agreeing with Fran, you are saying that you think Labour would have probably won a straight policy contest against National across all issues except electoral finance, then this argument doesn’t hold.

    2. You read too much into HC’s refusal to discuss mistakes during these farewell interviews. I understand that you and others are keen to pick over her domestic political corpse, but I don’t think she is especially keen to help you do that. That is all her refusal amounts to. I think any person with some self-esteem can understand that sentiment.

    3. Also, you take her line about looking forwards not backwards at face value, which as you know is often a mistake when dealing with political leaders of any partisan persuasion. A quick look back at the number of times Labour, or Helen personally, changed outlook or style in response to public opinion since 1994 tells you that Helen is pretty good at looking backwards in order to make changes. She just doesn’t like airing dirty laundry with journos – just the same way she apparently is not planning a tell-all book.

    4. You draw a very long bow with Davis’ comments. He said HC was upset at having been rejected by 2 million people. She thought she had done her best, and to have your best rejected (or, put another way, bettered by someone else’s best) hurts. Anyone would be upset by that. Go ask Brash and English and Shipley. Never did he say anything about a view that the public “made a mistake” or whatever – you simply inserted that. Davis was merely giving voice to HC’s disappointment that her view was not shared among the majority of the public. It is that kind of political grave-dancing that, I think, can make people less forthcoming in these kinds of interviews.

    5. Last, the idea that no party can learn stuff until they issue public mea culpas (or is it “mea culpae”) is silly. I have not seen Lockwood’s mea culpa for making student loan interest higher than mortgage interest, or Bill English’s for the way you guys ran the health system in the 1990s. There are, of course, more examples, but you get the point. Yes, there has been policy change, we might cry consistent with your argument, but where oh where were the grovelling apologies? Put it this way: Does this lack of mea culpae mean, according to you, that I can legitimately infer those two guys have learned nothing at all from their nine years in the wilderness?

    [DPF: Where do I start. Yes Labour was behind before EFA and Winston. But those issues prevented Labour from gaining momentum. I know this from having been in Govt. The cost of scandals is not just the scandal but the opportunity cost that you never get to have a spell of positive govt talking about what you want. On top of that I have no doubt those two issues did drive many Labour voters away from Labour - but feel free to keep denying it.

    Nice spin for not accepting she made mistakes. Don Brash did an excellent valedictory where he discussed his regrets. Clark has the UN job - you think she could now feel safe, but guess not.

    As for the rest about whether Labour understand why they lost. Well Rob let me tell you that the vast majority of the press gallery can't believe how in denial they are. And you know I shouldn't complain, because it is good for the centre-right. When they do do things well, I give them credit for it. But really they need to lift their game]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Nigel Kearney (919 comments) says:

    >I think she felt rejected

    Someone with no class or decency might be tempted to respond with a phrase such as “diddums” or “we won, you lost, eat that”.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Murray (8,842 comments) says:

    We know that shes not taking her husband, but what about Heather? She got another koosh gig on someone elses dime and are terse emails instructing the UN funding bodies to just hand over the damn money going to be popping up soon?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. dad4justice (7,988 comments) says:

    Mr Holmes asked Helengrad “what was the biggest mistake you made as Prime Minister.”

    I believe her mistake list is indefinite and still growing at a rapid rate. Most normal human beings I know admit to making the odd mistake because we learn from them, however as paintergate and speedgate showed us all that she is above New Zealand law. She will thrive in the corrupt UN environment. How many plasters did TVNZ hire to do that filler job on her face for that sickening interview?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    I think she felt rejected basically, because she felt she’d done a good job which I also believe and had put her best foot forward and had been frankly an almost incomparable Prime Minister and yet somehow the public had not seen that the same way.

    a recent post here from Trev ‘the muss’ Mallard shows he thinks exactly the same way. Almost the same words. Could it be that Helen escaped from the bunker with her commanders still following her every utterance? Poor bastards. Imagine the phone bills they’ll incurr calling NY to find out their next opinion. Lets hope Helen doesn’t move on so fast they’re left intelletually high ‘n’ dry, on Courtney Place, bumbling in the gutter, muttering incoherencies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    As a distant spectator it was obvious Helen was ‘going bunker’ leading up to the election as it become more and more evident Labour were going to lose and at one point I suspect she almost threw in the towel after the attack politics failed (who was the architect of that strategy?).

    Then came a late rally but that was killed off by Labours own stupidity or perhaps they were a bit like possums in the road when plan A failed, frantically looking for plan B while the lights got closer.

    There was no humility then and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Helen didn’t suck eggs on national telly the other day either.

    Quite simply the old girl was always going to go down firing (except for that one dark patch, I’d love to hear more about that).

    Good luck to her, she should do well and do well for NZ at the UN.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    arkhad – the only man in parliament with a memeory of the outside world, David Garrett ACT MP.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Her inability to admit mistakes is a great weakness. Her command and control attitude to consensus will not serve her well at the UN.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. CraigM (694 comments) says:

    ” Imagine the phone bills they’ll incurr calling NY to find out their next opinion”

    heh. Classic.

    “I think she felt rejected basically,”

    You are right Peter, she was and it was personal. Your wife ran roughshod over the people of NZ and they eventually had enough of her self serving dishonesty. I hope for her own sake, one day she may come to realise that she behaved atrociously towards the people of this country. Until then she will remain the bitter twisted individual that she appears to be.

    Her arrogance as PM was vomit inducing, as a beaten PM it is pathetic and as head of the UNDP I can only say I am eternally grateful it is an overseas posting. May we hear as much of her in our media as we did of her predecessor.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Oh, and Rob, pushing the EFA through well in advance of the election was an utter, drawn out, disaster.

    It symbolised just how dirty Labour were prepard to get to stay in power, a fasinating study for tomorrows Pol. Sci students.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    So I just love how all the folk in the comments section like to give my comments the thumbs down but never actually engage the arguments I make. Top effort, peeps!

    (There is, of course, one exception: Top marks to Expat for replying to my arguments by pointing out that the EFA wasn’t very popular. None of us had noticed that at all – Labour just changed its policy for no apparent reason. Thanks so much for showing me the light. Next.)

    [DPF: One could argue Labour changed stance because the law was unworkable, rather than unpopular. Probably was a combination of the two]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    DPF

    Re: EFA and such, you said: “feel free to keep denying it.” Nobody is denying that the EFA hurt Labour. You may have noticed that our policy changed just after the election – that wasn’t so much a coincidence. Nobody is denying the Winston thing hurt us either. My point was that blaming only the EFA and the Winston thing for Labour’s loss is simplistic and dumb. There were other factors, too. Those other factors are, apparently, lost on Fran. They aren’t lost on Labour.

    Re: the interview stuff, you said “nice spin” then moved on to something else. “Nice spin” isn’t a very good rebuttal argument, so I’ll take that as a partial, if implicit, retraction.

    On your last point, I think Labour is well aware that they are behind, they remain behind, and they need to do better in order to win in 2011. But we understand that there aren’t magic bullets in the first year of being in opposition, as you well know. There is nothing we can say, not say, do, or not do, that brings us back to being competitive in the polls overnight. So go ahead and dance about the March 2009 polls if you like, but my impression is that Labour is playing a longer game, and one which doesn’t give the journos the instant gratification they seek. That is part of the reason they are all pissed at us – we aren’t imploding and bitching with each other as some had hoped we would. A caucus that doesn’t fight within itself is not a sign of a caucus in denial, it is a sign of a caucus with a purpose.

    [DPF: I don't think the polls at present mean much. But I don't think Labour is showing any sort of strategy over a longer game]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Just pointing out that the EFA was not a “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” argument with respect Labour losing.

    I, and I’m sure many others would as well, consider that particular gambit as being directly attributable to Labours loss. An appalling attempt at derailing democracy.

    So thats point 1 Rob.

    Points 2 – 5 are various attempts to not admit that the wheels fell off and that they are still off the Labour Express to Greymouth. Sometimes the peons just like to see that their elected representatives are flesh and blood who make mistakes, admit them and make amends or overcome.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Doug (407 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond
    This is what you accused National of before the Election, you even produced silly TV adds stating Flip-Flops. Now we find out that Labour are the party of Flip-Flops.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. CraigM (694 comments) says:

    “So I just love how all the folk in the comments section like to give my comments the thumbs down but never actually engage the arguments I make. Top effort, peeps!”

    Persoanlly I was too busy laughing at the sad effort to re-write history to respond. When I stopped laughing I wondered how you would read any response with your head stuck so far in the sand.

    Then I just thought, why bother. One of your comments says why:

    “Last, the idea that no party can learn stuff until they issue public mea culpas (or is it “mea culpae”) is silly”

    Arrogance in the extreme Rob. Go ahead, DON’T apologise to the NZ public. DON’T admit that you got so many things wrong towards the end. I know to do so would embarass Clark which none of you have the guts to do, but it needs to be done. Unless labour say ‘sorry’ and mean it, they will remain unpopular for a very long time.

    The sad thing is, you are probably reading this and thinking: what have we got to apologise for?

    And that is why few bother to respond to you.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    And I’ll hit the hay before I get any more words around the wrong way.

    That should read:
    I, and I’m sure many others would as well, consider Labours loss being directly attributable to that particular gambit. An appalling attempt at derailing democracy.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Didn’t see the show.

    What was her answer to the questions concerning her buying her post at the UN with taxpayer money??

    Oh, she wasn’t asked about that??

    Pffftt..

    Useless media scum.

    Just crooks interviewing crooks.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. oob (194 comments) says:

    The conceit of the Left shines through in this interview with the Clarks, as it shines through in the most of the pronouncements of the Labour Party post-election.

    Labour and the Greens firmly believe that they did nothing wrong while in Government and that their election defeat was because the electorate was either misguided or hoodwinked by PR spin.

    They really, firmly, believe this. That they are perfect and the electorate is stupid.

    And long may it continue.

    The electorate knows how imperfect the Clark regime was and is offended by the haughty superiority complex and disdain for them that Labour displays on a daily basis.

    Labour has made itself unelectable. This is a good thing.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond,

    You get a tick from me at least for your excellent analysis. Thank you for posting it. Alas, some others are so consumed by their hatred of Helen Clark and Labour that they are misconstruing your points. I suggest they go back and read your first post again, more carefully.

    Actually, I think that denial of error (at least in public) is an excellent strategy.

    We all know the old saw: Oppositions don’t win elections, Government’s lose them. This is largely true. Unless National proves dangerously radical, seriously incompetent or the wheels fall off they will probably be re-elected, at least for one more term. If that happens (and I do not predict that, merely note that it is too soon to judge) then Labour maximises its chances by offering a “return to normality”. And Goff is the best person available to offer that.

    Of course, the chances are that National will prove moderate, competent and united (and I fervently hope they do). In this case Labour’s strategy will fail. THEN will be the time for new leadership, new ideas, mea culpae, and so forth. Going through all this now however, will not help if National does well, and will damage their chances if National does badly and voters want to run back to the nanny they know so well.

    Personally, I don’t know if Labour really recognises its errors or not. But I can understand why they don’t want to admit to them if they do.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Fairfacts Media (371 comments) says:

    As I blogged on saturday, like many lefty leaders, Helen Clark is a narcissist.
    Whale Oil was right about what he logged in October.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    IMHO Clark will struggle in her new job She will be dealing with a whole new level of corruption and cronyisim and will be blocked at every turn by Super Sir Humphries who will resist any moves by her to change the culture.

    She will be frustrated beyond all reason as I understand her mandate is to clean up and clean out the most corrupt of the UN agencies.

    These people will swat Helen Elizabeth Clark off. She wont have the power she had as PM Her attempts at bullying will meet heavy resistance.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. oob (194 comments) says:

    gd wrote: IMHO Clark will struggle in her new job She will be dealing with a whole new level of corruption and cronyisim

    I don’t think there’s anything that the U.N. (or indeed, anyone) can teach Clark about corruption and nepotism; she’s a past-master of both.

    The UNDP is about to double its staff – with all of the new appointees Marxist-Lesbians.

    The UNDP is about to decrease to zero it’s contributions to countries that are not controlled by communist regimes, with the extra funds distributed amongst those countries that are.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. calendar girl (1,203 comments) says:

    Who is this Rob Salmond who is so sensitive about his karma demerits?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,820 comments) says:

    Helen Clark felt rejected at the results of the 2008 election.

    Good, nice to think my vote contributed to that rejection. :cool:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.