Further thoughts on Clark valedictory

April 11th, 2009 at 3:45 pm by David Farrar

There has been some interesting commentary on Clark’s valedictory speech – mainly commenting on the total lack of reflection that she ever did anything wrong.

Guyon Espiner blogs:

Her valedictory was like her premiership: cautious and competent; meticulous and managerial.  I’d hoped might show us a flicker of feeling; a sliver of humanity; a scintilla of humility. …

It was similar when she spoke to us on TVNZ’s Q+A show last Sunday. There was no acknowledgement of her mistakes. Could she not have conceded to mishandling the anti-smacking law? To rushing the Electoral Finance Act? To being a little too lenient in her handling of Winston Peters?

I don’t think she considers any of them mistakes. Just as she has never conceded she was wrong to sign paintings that others painted. Her career has been marked by a refusal to say sorry and to blame everyone else.

I think she owed it to Labour to show a little contrition about the election defeat.

Clark sticks to the line that New Zealanders only voted National because they felt they could have the same policies with a new face. With that statement there is the underlying belief that before too long voters will realise the grave mistake they made in throwing her out.

The has a shorter version of the Clark speech:

‘I’ve been a very great Prime Minister and I’m proud of that.’

I think Clark was a very, very good Prime Minister, but her massive ego and unshakable faith in her own historical awesomeness is one of the main reasons she was not a great one.

If this seems harsh then I guess it’s because the endless, pointless debacles of her third term government are still fresh in my mind – and most of them seemed to be driven by Clark’s belief in her own infallibility and her parties blind worship of same.

A valedictory speech for a politician like Clark is obviously a time to celebrate an impressive career, but in the wake of a devastating loss it’s also, one would have thought a time for self-deprecation and also an opportunity, a chance to signal to the party and the public that mistakes were made, lessons were learned, a corner has been turned, the torch passed to a new leadership etc. But not a flicker of self-reproof seems to trouble Clark’s astonishing mind: the public rejected her for reasons that remain mysterious but are probably to do with their own fickleness and stupidity, and also Crosby-Textor.

I’ve listened to valedictory speeches from six Prime Ministers, and Clark’s was the only one which did not touch on regrets. You would have thought it was the speech of someone who had won a fourth term, not someone who had been decisively thrown out of office.

The more I think about it she also glossed over stuff such as the 4th Labour Government, the relationship with David Lange, how she became Leader. It was rather opaque.

Labour supporters, rather like Clark, seem more focused on defending her legacy, than a serious analysis of where they went wrong. Indeed some of them do seriously blame it all on Crosby-Textor and a gullible public.

Clark and Cullen’s departure provide Goff with a real opportunity to stamp his own leadership on the party. His first challenge will be the Mt Albert selection. Goff knows having Tizard back in Parliament will be a nightmare for him. Does he place her in the shadow cabinet? What portfolios does he give her? How do they deal with s92A when its architect is in caucus insisting it is perfect and should remain intact. If she gets back in, then do they stand her again in Auckland Central? If not, what electorates should she shadow?

Goff’s instincts have been very sound in the past. It will be interesting to see him now able to put them to work. Key won, by following his instincts. Goff, to be viable, needs to also make changes and do what he thinks is right – not necessarily what Labour has done in the past.

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34 Responses to “Further thoughts on Clark valedictory”

  1. Donovan (2 comments) says:

    See http://www.donovansworld.blog.co.nz and enter Helen into the search box.

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  2. Donovan (2 comments) says:

    See http://www.donovansworld.blog.co.nz and enter Helen in the search box

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  3. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    >mainly commenting on the total lack of reflection that she ever did anything wrong

    Any time George Bush fails to admit to making mistakes, half the Internet goes absolutely bat shit crazy. By comparison, there has been little discussion of Clark’s similar attitude.

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  4. Manolo (13,395 comments) says:

    Clark epitomises arrogance and will not acknowledge mistakes easily. She would be the first one to believe her own infallibility, since she’s always been surrounded by lackeys and sycophants, who wouldn’t dare to contradict her.

    Regarding Goff, I reckon he must be a disappointment to all Labour supporters. His days are numbered.

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Wow, great post Mr. Farrar.

    That’s not a comment relating to whether I agree or not, but is directed at the finesse of the political commentary.

    People project all kind of reasons for the popularity of Kiwiblog, but I think a large part of it is posts such as this.

    You don’t get them anywhere else, and they stand out like dogs balls amongst all the ponderous piffling pretentious self important hogwash of the Progressives at Public Address and elsewhere.

    Great stuff and well done.

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  6. burt (7,838 comments) says:

    Helen who ?

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  7. reid (15,974 comments) says:

    There was no acknowledgement of her mistakes.

    And this was news to Liarbore apologists Guyon and Colin for how long?

    Duh, guys.

    Clark’s astonishing mind

    Disciplined, arrogant, ruthless, self-serving.

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  8. JC (909 comments) says:

    “Labour supporters, rather like Clark, seem more focused on defending her legacy, than a serious analysis of where they went wrong. Indeed some of them do seriously blame it all on Crosby-Textor and a gullible public.”

    Clark, like Cullen and many of the Labour tribe have “moved on” from the husk that was Labour. It was really only the vehicle that was used to advance and achieve a vision of the 1960s and 70s to the end of the line of a narrow track. Neither she or many of her supporters saw the party as having any other purpose than to carry the Helen train to a perfect end.

    What has she to apologise for? Her train has reached the end of the line she plotted long ago. The fact that there are few passengers on board merely shows the failings of those who jumped from perfection to perfidy.

    JC

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  9. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    I fully endorse Redbaiters posting, which makes me wonder if I was in the sun too much to-day?

    Have re-read it and nope he is right!

    Just imagine having to live with an ego and personality Dear Leader has, and just like that!

    On psychometrics she we have the same reading on DISC at work and at Home. Would love to get her to fill the forms out.

    In her mind she has out-grown and indeed out mastered NZ. The World Stage beckons. Pity the UN don’t offer an apartment in the package.

    Yeah Right!!

    Wow.

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  10. starboard (2,475 comments) says:

    She wasnt a great Prime Minister as she states , she was a dictator and Im glad to see the back of the cowsbody. Goff is pissin in the wind , he wont last , National will get at least 3 terms. Keep up the good work JK.

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  11. Komata (1,113 comments) says:

    And yet the absolutely crazy thing is that the Labour ‘rank and file’ are still absolutely besotted with her and have totally bought into ‘we lost because ‘the electorate’ wanted same policies with a new face’

    Totally daft and (evidently) unquestioning – not even bothering to ask ‘why’ – or think for themselves. (Sheeples?)

    Most odd!!

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  12. Minnie (96 comments) says:

    What struck me was the lack of humour, the total seriousness of purpose, even at this point when it really doesn’t matter to be seen as a serious player. Clark at one point related a story about Chris Carter as Minister of Conservation bringing the St James Station purchase proposal to Cabinet….chuckle chuckle…and Dr Cullen said “What, not another iconic landmark?”…chuckle chuckle…cue chuckles from the Labour benches.

    You had to be there at the time to fully appreciate it I suppose.

    The whole thing was all about The Legacy.

    And she hasn’t formally resigned yet, either.

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  13. burt (7,838 comments) says:

    So the way I see it, there is too parts to seeing and admitting fault in ones own actions, one is a being sane enough to retain the correct judgment so you can see it and the other being intelligent enough to reason it all out. I wonder which part of the equation is missing for Clark?

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  14. tvb (4,210 comments) says:

    I do not think Labour supporters or Clark need to focus on what went wrong for Labour. But the rest of us do and we are happy to support the alternative. There is really no point to the Labour Party except to defend intrenched interests, and past issues.

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  15. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    He he he he. *Pheeeeeeet!* Here commies.

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  16. skyblue (197 comments) says:

    Well, at least Adolf Hitler signed his own paintings.

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  17. burt (7,838 comments) says:

    tvb

    Acknowledgment and dissection are two different things, denial is a third. Lessons are seldom learnt via denial.

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  18. fredinthegrass (271 comments) says:

    I for one, am very pleased to see the back of ‘Her Ladyship’.
    The best thing she has done for New Zealand is to galvanise
    a complacent electorate into recognising we were being duped
    into believing the direction we were heading was okay.

    “The speach” summed it up.

    Bye H1

    Now for the future.

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  19. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Lets face it, her mistakes were pretty minor compared to Bush, Howard and Blair. Invading Iraq and the persistent denial of climate change dragged their nation’s name through the mud. I am still grateful Nzers don’t have to look over their shoulders in the muslim world. National supported the invasion of Iraq and took forever to acknowledge climate change (ACT still does not).

    Whilst NZ kept the US on side (and keep its nuclear free policy) we also managed to do a FTA with China before anyone else- our children will be very grateful for this.

    I also recall Cullen being derided for suggesting the surplus be maintained so borrowings would not be required for tax cuts (where have I heard that recently).

    I would much rather suffer a bit of hubris if it meant we benefitted from from sound judgement.

    BTW Clark and Cullen especially, would not have embarked on a spend up on re organising local government without seeing the business plan first. will there be anything left for the world cup.

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  20. burt (7,838 comments) says:

    bchapman

    Would have been anything left for NZ if Labour had got their way with their spending for the world cup! I think we need to face the facts that as a country we have soundly stuffed up with the world cup.

    How many years ago did we win it? How much has been done to host it? How long before it happens?

    Labour…. what were you doing apart from talking up pipe dreams of waterfront stadiums?

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  21. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    skyblue – there are names you cant mention on kiwiblog.

    and now I remind everyone of Lange’s account of Clark: “As long as her paddock had a good sole of grass the firestorm could consume the rest.”

    kinda sums it up really

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  22. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    in retrospect, given what has happened since, the right call was made on the Waterfront stadium. To their credit Clark and the NZRFU pulled off the improbable and got the World Cup. Sporting events are one thing NZ does do well, even if it will not be in a brand new stadium.

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  23. paradigm (507 comments) says:

    Still wish the Q and A program had bothered to ask Clark a few hard questions, like straight after her refusing to answer if she had any regrets they could ask her if she regretted the utter contempt she had shown Don Brash at his valedictory, given how National treated her rather better at hers.

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  24. mara (726 comments) says:

    Clark will never answer hard questions. At least not honestly. She never could. Her “goodbye” speech proved that. I hope her new job takes her far away from NZ. The UN will perhaps never see the “creepiness” that became so evident here.
    Good luck with Africa etc, Helen, but please leave NZ alone.

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  25. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    When Stalin died Nikita Khrushchev denounced him and his “cult of personality”.

    That’s what Phil Goff needs to do regarding Helen Clark.

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  26. oob (194 comments) says:

    What rankles most is that she got away with it.

    Clark is the worst thing, the absolutely worst thing, ever to happen to New Zealand.

    Yet no one has held her to account. The conniving bitch got away with it, all of it, scot free.

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  27. metcalph (1,383 comments) says:

    If Clark won’t ‘fess up to her errors, then I shall list my opinion of them.

    1) Failing to remove Cullen from the Treasury Portfolio. Even leading up to the 2005 elections, he was being an arse with his bubble-gum tax cuts. This term he just got worse and worse.

    2) Failing to put both the boot and the axe into Winston Peters (at the same time, natch) when he finally admitted receiving money from Owen Glenn. Even worse was thinking that by letting Cullen run interference on the Privileges Committee, she could defuse the scandal. I mean WTF was she thinking?!?

    3) Pissing off the Maori with the Foreshore and Seabed Act. This was badly handled – principally I blame Margaret Wilson and Helen’s error was to fail to yank the leash – in that it infuriated enough Maoris to form a viable party that Mana Motahake could never be.

    I know some people have said the anti-smacking bill was an error but I don’t think so. It did put her in a difficult position for a while but she got out of it with the Key compromise, which I felt was adept on her behalf.

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  28. voltaire (43 comments) says:

    The fact that HC is gone is enough for Voltaire her valedictory speech should not be a surprise to any logical thinking person, the left are continually blinded by ideology and their blinkers only allow a view of the world shaped by their common heritage i.e. Marxist-Leninist principles.

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  29. Jim (400 comments) says:

    What struck me from Guyon’s writing was this: “Personally I have never met anyone, anywhere, in any sphere of life who I felt had more brain power than Michael Cullen.”

    Just shows how little Mr Espiner has travelled. Almost has a bogan/redneck ring to it [shiver].

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  30. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    I have never heard anyone deny Kullen was smart. I have heard several people state he was a c*nt though.

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  31. Banana Llama (1,105 comments) says:

    Well that valedictory is further proof we should have thrown rocks soaked in holy water at her on her way out of office.

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  32. big bruv (13,331 comments) says:

    bcchapman

    “in retrospect, given what has happened since, the right call was made on the Waterfront stadium. To their credit Clark and the NZRFU pulled off the improbable and got the World Cup. Sporting events are one thing NZ does do well, even if it will not be in a brand new stadium.”

    What???

    Where do you get the idea from that “sporting events are one thing NZ does do well”?.

    Can you name these sporting events that NS does do well?, the RWC will be a national embarrassment, it will also cost the tax payers a small fortune.

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  33. Ross Miller (1,665 comments) says:

    David (or anybody) … what is the nuance (if any) behind the fact that ‘she’ hasn’t as yet resigned her seat.

    I mean she doesn’t need the money does she?

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  34. Fletch (6,029 comments) says:

    The more I think about it, the more I see a similarity between HC and King Kong.

    Kong was the tyrant-king of his own little island who was eventually subdued. Once subdued however, they thought he was harmless and could be exported to the rest of the world without doing any damage, only he got loose and wreaked havoc.

    Sounds like a cautionary tale to me…

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