Mike Moore: It's just doublespeak

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The low fat yoghurt really hit the fan recently because of an article I wrote suggesting that the current politics of personal destruction reminded me of Muldoon.

The idea of banning published dissent for election year, a third of a parliamentary term, is sinister, and as written, could ban books. Why ban them? Burn them.

Just as I was feeling remorseful because some of my comments were giving comfort to the National Party where the shallow men have replaced the hollow men, the violent frenzy in response proved my point.

The attacks were Orwellian in their doublespeak, and Nixonian in their dark paranoia. One line spun that is about promoting Phil Goff, who I also sprayed in the article, was pure Nixon. I haven't spoken to Phil in a year. Unfortunately. Documents have come to me instructing familiar names to ring talkbacks and write letters to the editors.

Jim Anderton is the designated driver in the attack plan. He's loving the attention. Most people thought he was dead or, even more fatal in politics, retired. He has not voted Labour in 20 years, not many know that Norm Kirk kicked him out of the party when he was right-wing, anti-abortion, anti-gay, and with Roger Douglas, wanted to remove the unions from the party. Then he left again as a left-winger. I didn't support Jim when he was far right or far left.

I've always been a militant moderate. The lines instructed to use are that I'm bitter because I lost the Labour leadership. Come on, after it was over I slept like a baby. I slept for three hours, woke up and cried, then slept for another three hours, woke up and cried.

When I'm asked overseas how was it I was the youngest and shortest-serving Prime Minister of New Zealand, I just say it's complicated, I was young, you do silly things, it's not something I'm proud of.

To be fair, both Helen Clark and Michael Cullen said they would have lost their seats if I had not taken over. I raised money for Labour before the last election and since the election, to disagree is not automatically to be a traitor.

Anderton opposed all the policies that now make New Zealand wealthy. Against closer economic relations with Australia, against universities getting paid students from overseas, now our fourth biggest export income earner. Opposed GST, waterfront reforms, an independent central bank.

He even opposed the Uruguay trade round and that has returned New Zealand more than a billion dollars a year.

Mind you, if you believe the media, National MP Tim Groser did all that. Groser's modesty will be his downfall. He should remind people it was he who first climbed Everest, split the atom, produced Lord of the Rings, and invented rugby.

Another line is it's because I didn't get a Government job; I always knew I didn't have as much to offer New Zealand as Jonathan Hunt or Graham Kelly. I expect and want nothing.

But I do get upset when the leadership sneer and darkly mention my tax status. It's an honour each week to pay more tax than a minister earns, I've discovered capitalism late in life. I think my record for New Zealand stands.

It's a melancholy fact, which few would dispute, that the best thing I did for the country was leave it and go on to lead the WTO, where we did get China in as a member, and launched a new trade round worth billions for New Zealand. When that deal is done it's worth up to five times more than the aid given to Africa. So much for the argument spun that I'm bitter because my life has been a failure and that I've forgotten the battlers - I spend 40 per cent of my time on "do-gooders" work around the world.

I'm writing this from Kuala Lumpur where I'm in a group that's working on how a democratic, secular Islam can be a force for good.

It's been suggested to me that all ex-leaders go through attention and relevance withdrawal symptoms. There may be some truth in that, but I'm not bored, as spun. I'm not writing because I'm bored, I write because I can. My columns are carried in six countries. My last book was published in several languages and is in its third edition. I've written more books than Anderton's read.

By the way, have you noticed how Jim's hair always turns black with worry around election time? Oops, that's politically incorrect, but I now demand a victim's government grant because I represent the FCs - the "follically challenged".

"Uber apparatchiks, spinmeisters, paid friends, call the dogs off." Remember to laugh at life's absurdities. Talk about the good decision to get justice for Agent Orange victims, unbundling the communications system, how to get better results from the new money going to health and education, and expose the National Party's policy that somehow less investment will improve things.

I am sorry that all this has taken the focus off what should be hard work on reversing the present trend of New Zealand slipping in the OECD's list of "Best Performing Countries". That's the issue, citizens!

* Mike Moore is a former Labour Prime Minister.

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