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Political pieties

  • December 1st, 2011

Watching the notorious cringe-making clip of David Cunliffe's stump speech I felt sorry for him. There are so many rituals one must observe to be safe from media slaughter as a politician. One must ooze caring. Unctuous cliches help. There is so much pretense that over time politicians lose their internal sensitivity to humbug. The internal compass that tells you when you've crossed the line loses calibration.

David's bro-speak is on that continuum, just a little further along from Helen Clark's special Labour party meeting whining kiwi accent, that she never had in State Dinner speeches with foreigners, for example.

I could not do most of that.  The ritual pieties of politics stuck in my throat. I respect words. I despise myself when I find myself using them carelessly, even if they are just empty social exahanges, like "hows it going?" when I have little desire to know.

Even as a politician I was never able to use  pieties – the florid ums and ahs of convention – like "drive safely" or "have a good day" or "how's your day been" or  "god willing" or "thank God". I'd have made a poor Muslim if "Allah be praised" had to be on the tape.

And so I could never bring myself to to iinvoke the sanctified "kiwi mums and dads" or "kiwi families" or "kiwi battlers" or "mum and dad investors" or any of the other horrible cliched terms that make politicians so easy to parody.


  • Jim Maclean
  • December 1st, 2011
  • 6:52 pm

Good for you Stephen, your eloquence and sincerity shine through your blog and keep people like me comming back to read it and proud know you are a Kiwi. Now if only I could either convince you that ACT economic policy represents an unworkable ideal or alternatively if I could be convinced it is not. (I can't see that happening any time soon).
I do believe John Key's lack of political sophistication best contrasted with the master of insincere showmanship, Winston Peters, is one of the reasons he is so well liked by the electorate. We have had enough of slick salesmen and women foisting shiny packages like "building reform" which become unbelievably expensive millstones round our economic necks while those who cost the country billions are less held to account that the local shoplifter.
Enough ranting for now. More strength to your blogging arm and thanks for all your good work on and offline. It is appreciated by many you are never likely to meet, but you can consider your friends anyway.


very funny dude, Shearer is a rip in


Is that Jim  McLean above writing dude, is that really him, write here McLean 

  • Jim Maclean
  • December 8th, 2011
  • 7:11 am

It is, in fact, Jim Maclean. I don't know a Jim McLean.

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