Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Bob Jones: Ridicule - a small price to pay for fleeting fame

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Colin Craig, an innocuous fellow, to say the least, but now star-struck and nationally known, with a band of admiring supporters and candidates to idolise him. Photo / APN
Colin Craig, an innocuous fellow, to say the least, but now star-struck and nationally known, with a band of admiring supporters and candidates to idolise him. Photo / APN

A sizeable section of the population hold conservative values, thus Labour and National have always endured conservative MP factions who occasionally influence policies. As a libertarian, I'm at the opposite end of the political spectrum. If unimaginative people want to conserve things as they are, I'll argue against them, discussion being futile as conservatives are implicitly closed to debate.

So is there room for a Conservative Party, given we already have a moderate one, namely National? They entertain change only when it's overwhelmingly necessary. By contrast, parties of the left are driven by perpetually discontented people, ever wanting to tip the world upside down. While many of Labour's proposals deeply annoy me, on a personal basis I empathise with them more than with National MPs, as generally they're better company.

When I wrote recently that this election was done and dusted, a storm of protest erupted on the New Zealand Herald's website from Labour's deeply unattractive, rabid tribalists.

Abuse aside, the common theme was that I'm a die-hard National supporter. That gave great amusement given that I last voted National in 1981. Excepting the New Zealand Party in 1984 and later Act twice, I've voted Labour ever since.

Policies, not parties are my guide. But while I've given financial support to Labour MP friends, I certainly don't want to see a change of government.

Aside from other disturbing considerations, a Labour government is currently only possible by incorporating the most abysmal line-up of no-hopers ever to have presented themselves in our history. The Nats' rowing boat television advertisement is spot-on; consequently, this time National will get my party vote, although I'll opt for the Labour seat incumbent.

What then of the Conservative Party? I have their well-presented pamphlet headed "What Do You Really Want?" One page asks "How conservative are you?" with 16 questions below. Say yes to 10, it asserts, and you're a conservative. The problem with those questions is that only three (thrift, tough on crime and smacking) reflect conservative values, the others being platitudes or a policy wish-list, such as binding referenda -- which regardless of its merits is hardly a conservative concept -- while one, "long-term thinking", is the antithesis of conservatism in its implication of change.

Why then has Colin Craig spent so much personal money, forcing him, in his own words, to have to live frugally, to pursue propositions one could hardly be impassioned about, moreso given the ridicule he's copped for some of his nuttier observations? My supposition as to his motives can be best explained by reverting to the early 1970s, when Brian Edwards was our kingpin current affairs television broadcaster.

When a nondescript sadsack, Colin King-Ansell, announced the formation of a Nazi Party, Brian couldn't help himself and instead of ignoring him, brought him to Avalon to do a pre-recorded programme. Brian subsequently said it was the worst moment of his television career.

Why? Because to get King-Ansell there, he needed to charm him. But once the cameras rolled, he proceeded to massacre him for 30 minutes. Deeply embarrassed, given how he'd first wooed, then butchered, King-Ansell, Brian then fled, only to be called back. A technical fault had wrecked the film.

"Colin's happy to do it again," Brian was told, and so, aghast, he returned and proceeded to kick King-Ansell from wall to wall all over again. "I thought that went well," King-Ansell said afterwards, plainly delighted at being the centre of attention with our then best-known celebrity.

Talking about this subsequently with Brian brought home the realisation of King-Ansell's motives. He was a nobody and even if it meant ridicule, at least he was now nationally known.

This behaviour is often the motivation behind American political assassinations; that is to attain instant fame, albeit at the price of hatred. So, too, with notorious murders where publicity-seekers waste police time by "confessing" -- a common occurrence.

I suspect something similar drives Colin Craig, an innocuous fellow, to say the least, but now star-struck and nationally known, with a band of admiring supporters and candidates to idolise him. He should realise one truth about elections. Start a party to prohibit eating peas, then call for candidates and they will appear in droves, all chasing a fleeting tiny ray of public attention otherwise beyond them.

Andy Warhol gave us the "15 minutes of fame" aphorism, while today in our so-called celebrity culture, we're dismayed when some young people mindlessly express an ambition to be famous.

It's age-old behaviour. I recall, as a small boy, cutting out a Hutt News tiny typeface report of my welder father's name, the only time he ever appeared in print. Repeatedly I read "E.L. Jones," along with the other names of the Dyer St School table-tennis club's new committee members. I was so proud. My dad was famous.

- NZ Herald

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