Talking about legacies, what was David Lange’s?

Karl du Fresne runs Lange through an honest reassessment

Is it time for a reassessment of the David Lange legacy?

I ask that question for a couple of reasons. The first was a speech that Sir Gerald Hensley gave late last year.

Hensley was head of the Prime Minister’s Department under Lange and thus uniquely positioned to observe him. The picture he painted of Lange’s behaviour during the showdown with the United States over nuclear warships was not flattering.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I was delirious with pleasure when Lange’s Labour government was elected in 1984.

Sir Robert Muldoon had cast a malevolent shadow over New Zealand since 1975. He was a bully who succeeded politically by polarising New Zealanders along them-and-us lines, never more so than at the time of the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.

In Lange he faced, for the first time, an opponent he couldn’t handle. Lange seemed impervious to Muldoon’s method of attack, responding with sparkling eloquence and insouciant wit.

As prime minister, Lange appeared to champion New Zealand’s right to repudiate nuclear weapons. Many New Zealanders experienced a surge of nationalistic pride at the way he stood up to pressure from Washington to accept visits from American warships.

Peak pride came with Lange’s performance in the celebrated Oxford Union debate of 1985, when he argued that nuclear weapons were morally indefensible. He famously told his opponent, the American televangelist Jerry Falwell, that he could smell the uranium on Falwell’s breath.

Lange was in his element. He was a performer who loved to charm people with his humour and verbal dexterity. I was in Britain at the time and recall feeling quietly pleased that New Zealand and its charismatic prime minister were being noticed and admired internationally for taking an independent line.

But as Hensley has revealed, Lange was talking out both sides of his mouth – saying one thing to New Zealanders and another to our allies.

In public, he was pledging to honour Labour’s commitment to ban nuclear weapons and nuclear propulsion. But behind the scenes, he was assuring America and our other Anzus treaty partner, Australia, that he would make the problem go away.

As Hensley tells it, the Americans were genuinely disposed to seek an amicable and mutually honourable solution, but in the end became so exasperated with Lange’s duplicity that they spat the dummy. He even kept his own Cabinet in the dark.

Read more »

Angry Andy has fallen into Winston’s trap

Labour leader Andrew Little has a new proposal to re-enter the Pike River coal mine which involves exempting Solid Energy from health and safety laws.

Little said today he would table a bill in Parliament on the first sitting day in February which would assist the families in their bid to access the West Coast coal mine’s drift.

Prime Minister Bill English has said health and safety laws which were introduced in response to the Pike River disaster in 2010 make any re-entry all but impossible.

During a visit to Greymouth today, Little said he had a solution. Read more »

Andrew Little has cracked his image problem

Labour leader Andrew Little faced media for the first time this year without his usual spectacles – but says the new look isn’t an election year make-over.

Little said he used to wear contacts regularly years ago.

“I haven’t more recently, but I have been this summer. And so, I’ll wear them sometimes and sometimes not.” Read more »

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Face of the Day

Our closest allies are refusing to back the Paris agreement, angering the Palestinians

PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday slammed the UK and Australia for their refusal to support a declaration that emerged earlier in the week from an international conference on Middle East peace in Paris.

“We regret and denounce the reservations made by the United Kingdom and Australia to the final statement of the Paris Peace Conference,” he said in a statement.

Erekat stated that the peace declaration “emphasized the commitment of the international community to the two-state solution and to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” Read more »

Word of the day

The word for today is…

senectitude(noun) –  Old age; elderliness.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Medieval Latin senectitudo, alteration of Latin senectus old age, from sen-, senic-, senex old, old man.

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 19

6 Many seek favors from a ruler;
everyone is the friend of a person who gives gifts!

Wednesday nightCap

Merkel now says Muslims have to leave ” after wars end “

Who am I?

Guess who the mystery person is using the 3 clues. Include in your comments how the clues relate to the mystery person

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