Some interesting parts to the Clark and Davis interview on Q&A. 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 Helen Clark 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 Electoral Finance Act, 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.