The sight of a Minister reading a speech to Parliament about a Bill he clearly hadn't even read has done what not even the Electoral Finance Act could: it's killed off a vital part of political discourse in New Zealand.

Sad news in the blogosphere. Danyl McLauchlan, the auteur behind my 2nd favourite NZ blogsite, The Dim-Post, has decided to take a break from posting. He announced it thus:

"NZPA carries the story of National Minister Jonathan Coleman introducing legislation to the house with a ten minute long speech that actually described a different bill introduced three years ago. Normally I’d get a kick out of something like this – or the artlessness of Pete Hodgeson’s latest smear – but instead they just feed into my deepening depression about the mediocrity of New Zealand’s political class and the culture surrounding it, related to my wider despair at the state of the economy.

Someone once asked Jonathan Lynn – co-author of Yes Minister - why his show never dealt with events in the House of Commons. He replied:

there was not a single scene set in the House of Commons because government does not take place in the House of Commons. Some politics and much theatre takes place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see.

In our current situation we have a government that knows much about theatre and politics and almost nothing about government and an opposition that probably knows much about government, but in vain because they know nothing about politics or theatre.

Anyway, I’ve reached the point where it’s all too banal even to laugh at so I’m taking a break from blogging for an indeterminate period."

While I've differed with Danyl's analysis on certain matters (as well as taken the piss out of his frankly scarey sounding job at other times), I've found him to be reliably funny and generally thought provoking in his writing. He also attracts an ideologically diverse, attractively eclectic and surprisingly knowledgeable set of commentators, with whom I've spent far too much time sparring.

So I hope he isn't off-line for too long.

As for the Peter Dunne-Johnathan Coleman double act responsible for driving Danyl into the depths of such dispair, all I can say is that those two guys are worse than François Duvalier.

Comments (11)

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2010
Tim Watkin

RIP Danyl. And then like the living dead come back stronger and more dangerous than ever.

by Mark Wilson on November 11, 2010
Mark Wilson

Why would anyone be surprised by politicians stupidity and venality? That's what qualifies them for office. Unless they took a pay cut to go into politics they are there for the money. No one with self respect would do something as distasteful as politics just for money.

by Andrew Geddis on November 11, 2010
Andrew Geddis

"Unless they took a pay cut to go into politics they are there for the money."

I think it's a fairly safe bet that Jonathan Coleman, with a medical degree and a MBA from the London Business School under his belt, could make more than $243,700 a year in the private sector ... and work far, far shorter hours than a Minister of the Crown does.

Second, as someone who actually knows people in Parliament (and some who want to be there), your claim that politicians are all (or even mostly) "stupid and venal" bears no real relation to the world as it is. Which is pretty much par for the course with you, Mark. Sorry.

by nommopilot on November 11, 2010

"bears no real relation to the world as it is"

assuming of course that he is in the same world as the rest of us.  It seems more likely he is communicating through an internet portal from another world entirely.


PS RIP DIM-post.

by Mark Wilson on November 11, 2010
Mark Wilson

Oh dear Andrew - tch tch,

Your point 1 - please note the previous statement -           "Unless they took a pay cut to go into politics they are there for the money."                                    So that takes care of the ones with real world ability.

Point 2 - can I be so impolite as to suggest you might not be in the best position to judge  "people in Parliament"s real world intelligence and ability. With the greatest respect how much time have you spent in the real world and what did you achieve there?     

As evidence of my arguement how many ex politicians, especially from the left such as Clark have been able to go out into the world and get commensurately rewarded in private enterprise? The fact is they hide in government directly or indirectly paid jobs. If they were anywhere near as good as you maintain they would be able to make it in the real world.

Just because soemone is able to handle jobs in heavily protected environments such as politics where there is very rarely consequences for stupidity, waste and being plain wrong does not mean they are not stupid and venal.

As for mic watts - do tell me about your track record in the real world.    

by Andrew Geddis on November 11, 2010
Andrew Geddis

I'm' not going to get into a debate over what constitutes "the real world" in terms of employment, because it's one of those meaningless phrases that business folks like to throw around to make themselves look big and tough ("look at me, making it in the "real world" ... unlike those stupid wage earners who pay mortgages, struggle with the bills and raise kids, who can't do so! I'm so fantastic!!"). The fact their "real world" is inhabited by a tiny fraction of the world's population, and predominently is male and white, seems not to disrupt their cozy sense of achievement one iota. So you can play in your "real world", Mark ... I frankly don't care.

My point simply was that to claim all/most politicians* are (1) stupid and (2) motivated by financial considerations is empirically false, based on my contact with the individuals concerned (which I'll bet is far more extensive than yours). If you have counter evidence, provide it here.

*There are, or course, exceptions. See, e.g., Sandra Goudie, Paul Quinn and Chris Carter.

by Andin on November 12, 2010

Why would anyone be surprised by politicians stupidity and venality? That's what qualifies them for office.

Is there a degree in that? "Stupidity and venality" I mean.

Or should I just ask where you went to school?

Sad that, or maybe he is taking a break to build up myelin on another area.

by Tom Semmens on November 12, 2010
Tom Semmens

Offer Danyl a place on the pundit panel.

by Mark Wilson on November 12, 2010
Mark Wilson

There is a reason that not everyone plays in the real world - they don't have what it takes. And those that do don't need any validation from themselves or others - if you can make it in New York you know you would have no problem in any other field. You can judge the lack of competitiveness of a given field by the amount of time people in it spend trying to make things "civilised" and PC because of the fragility of those involved.

As to the politicians - you may well be right that you   know more current politicians than I do - I tend to know the ones that took the pay cut or have retired to a less reprehensible career. But I have talked to a number from both sides of the house who were undoubtedly divorced from realty. You can check out yourself whether most are dumb - ask them do they believe they have significant influence on NZ and also to name the 10 people who have the most influence on NZ's future. If they feel they are influential and or include any NZ politician in the list then you know you are in the presence of a moron. Try it sometime - the result will give refute your argument. And having the ability to hold a conversation of jargon rather than ideas does not exclude people from being stupid.

The reality is that Ben Bernanke and Lloyd Blankfein are way more influential on our future than John Key and even New Zealanders like Graeme Hart have way more influence that any politician outside of perhaps Key and  2 or 3 others.

The reality is New Zealand is heading into the most competitive environment the world has ever seen and we do not have politicians to handle that competition as evidence by Labour's decision to revert to a soviet command economy at a time when even Castro has admitted that his revolution has failed.  

by Andrew Geddis on November 12, 2010
Andrew Geddis

If you mean that not everyone seeks to become a Master of the Universe because they do not have the "drive", "ambition" or "balls" to be such, then you are right. Just like not everyone seeks to become a University Professor because they are not smart enough. So, I couldn't rise to your heights in the business world 'cause I just don't care enough about "doing the deal" and so lack the "killer instinct" required. You couldn't get a job at a law faculty in New Zealand because your analytic and expressive skills aren't up to the mark. These things are facts, but vive la difference

I agree politicians have but a limited influence on the world ... sometimes it is critical (see the US Govt response to the credit crunch). Most oftentimes it is minimal (see microchipping dogs as a way of stopping attacks on kids). Whether or not they understand this will vary from individual to individual ... there is a tendency in any profession to pump up your own sense of importance. Look at how academics pontificate, or the "wealth creators'" sense of entitlement.

As for NZ "heading into the most competitive environment the world has ever seen" ... maybe. Or maybe not.

by Mark Wilson on November 12, 2010
Mark Wilson

Andrew - I tip my hat to a good post!

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