Boris Hampton: Diary of a Wellington insider
Friday 14 August 2009
Off to Government House to get my Woggle Making Badge from the Chief Scout. This is despite a series of furious texts from Helen Clark demanding I desist, that this is all kowtowing to an antiquated idea of Kiwi-ness, and what about all her Nation Building?
I ignore them and get a furious phone message snarling ‘Whaddarya?’ Helen is heading back into the country – purely for a holiday, she says, which I don’t believe for a minute – and normally we would catch up.
But I think I might be too busy for a coffee this time…oh, what am I saying? I might miss something.
Monday 17 august 2009
I am worried about Bill English. I think we all are, a bit. It isn’t just the capital gains tax thing. I’m starting to think that is just the latest manifestation of a much deeper problem.
Bill got to lead National in 2002 and put together his first Budget in 2009. If he ever buys a glorious beachfront property at Papamoa or somewhere similarly plush you can consider it the equivalent of a tsunami alert. The current strategy though of getting everyone talking about different taxes he might bring in – is he going to put up GST? Or bring in a capital gains tax? A land tax? - is a high risk one but it just might work. He isn’t going to bring in any of them, of course. Tweaking the existing rules on property investment should do it.
Tuesday 18 August 2009
Helen enlists me for a tricky job which of course I cannot refuse. She has forgiven me for the Woggle Making Award – well, mostly. There is work to be done. Trevor Mallard’s blog about the exorcism, and how the culprits would have been imprisoned if they were white, has got her all riled up. She trusted Trevor and now this. The tricky thing is she owes Trevor, big time, and they both know it. But she’s got wind of Trevor’s next move – he’s planning a speech to the Orewa Rotary Club on race relations – and she is livid. It is a delicate job but I think I talk Trevor down.
My next job is to sort out the aftermath of bloody Duncan Garner’s little poll on TV3. A list of possible Labour leaders instead of Phil Goff includes Laila Harre. Harre isn’t even a Labour Party member, and in any case these days is busy on Rodney Hide’s Auckland Transition Agency. But think about it: Labour is still milling around looking for a Helen replacement. Who in the country best fits the job description of an Auckland-based woman PC political infighter with no life outside politics? Why, dear Laila. “She isn’t even an MP – she swanned off and took a cushy job somewhere else!” Helen tells me indignantly. Not for the first time, I quietly think to myself that Helen isn’t big on self-awareness.
Of course, the long-term game here is to protect Helen’s legacy. And in politics, the best way to secure your legacy, to make sure your reign is remembered as the best ever, is to make sure your party never gets back into power for a long time. Which is why Helen is bombarding the Labour caucus with texts and phone messages, in case they do something clever. So far it seems to be working well.
Thursday 20 August 2009-08-24
Oh dear, this one has gone too far. Accident Compensation’s plan to cut the counselling and support for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse was never meant to go this far. It’s the classic thing you do when your minister asks for cuts, of course: you put up things which would be inhumane and political suicide to do.
Their initial idea was to propose cutting all the support for victims. Too obvious, I warned them. You need to have something that is at least partly justifiable, preferably on the grounds they can get what they need elsewhere. But the idea is still to scare the minister off asking for any further cuts. This didn’t work. Nick Smith doesn’t seem to have noticed this is a tricky area and it has been waved through. Damn. Trouble all over it, this one.
Saturday 22 August 2009
The bloody voters. We knew the referendum on whether Sue Bradford should tell parents how to raise their kids would go that way, but we just hung out for the hope of a lower turnout, so we could ignore the whole thing. Damn.
I did my best. I suggested to the Nats they needed someone to front the pro-smacking campaign. I even suggested some of their personable young women MPs would be ideal. Get them out there talking about the virtues of a good smack on the bottom. This went over very badly. The younger Nats are very PC about these things.
I tried to talk Larry Baldock out of this, but he wasn’t having it. Larry has never quite got over losing his seat when he was a United Future MP. He really thought he had a chance in Tauranga and coming in behind the Bill and Ben Party made him mad as hell.
The bloody fools can’t see the existing law is the moral conservatives’ version of the abortion law. They’re both a collection of incompatible illogical clauses which allow people to do pretty much what they want. It’s worked find for abortion – no-one in Parliament wants to talk about it, ever again – and should work for this too. Except the bloody voters got in the way. Again.