David Lange

It is very sad to read the news about David Lange’s health battles, and especially the latest news with his right leg being amputated.

Mentally in my head I have thought about what to say when Lange dies. Now this may well turn out to be some months if not years ago, and as long as he has quality of life (and his wit is certainly unaffected) long may it be delayed. He has been rumoured to be about to die for some years now – something he himself has remarked on with humour.

Anyway I thought why wait until he dies to say the usual stuff – let them see it while alive. So without this seeming morbid, or indicating I think he is going to die anytime soon, here is my tribute to David Lange.

David Lange was truly a giant of NZ politics. He was in fact a world class politician. His ability to take on and vanquish Muldoon was no mean feat. His wit and intellect were amazing. He was also a very decent person. At secondary school a classmate ended up travelling to the Tokelaus with Lange as his father was to become the civil service administrator. Paul came back with great stories about Lange, including a note for the teacher excusing Paul from school as he had been assisting the PM. Very Lange humour.

Richard Prebble spoke at his valedictory what an amazing Chairman of Cabinet Lange was. No mean praise from a man Lange sacked.

The 1984 to 1987 Lange Government set the country free. Our debt to them is immense. Lange changed direction in the second term, and eventually resigned as PM, but this should not detract from that magnificent first term. We have forgotten how truly bad it was pre 1984.

Lange’s wit was legendary. There are so many great ones to recall (sadly no entry in Wikiquote for him) but my favourite one was when he was asked by TVNZ for a small word for the cameras. Lange paused, turned to the camera and said “it”. It was most non-prime ministerial behaviour, but wonderful to behold.

So thank you David Lange for being one of the greatest Prime Ministers of my lifetime. And my deep dark secret is I actually voted for you, by voting Labour, in 1987 despite being an office holder in the National Party. And I know I wasn’t the only one!

UPDATE: Insolent Prick has a lengthy tribute to the Lange legacy also.

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