Lindsay's Radio Editorial, 31 August—Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ...

JulianD's picture
Submitted by JulianD on Thu, 2007-08-30 21:54

Audio and text from Lindsay's Radio Pacific Editorial, Friday Aug 31:

I've been thinking about the comparison between Helen Clark and Rob Muldoon.

I've concluded it's unfair to Sir Robert.

Sir Robert, as a WW2 vet, had way too much respect for the freedom of speech for which men fought and died ever to entertain an abomination like the Electoral Finance Bill.

He never harboured the incipient desire Helen Clark has for perpetual rule in a one-party state.

He was "divisive" as charged—proudly. Truth to tell, he had a Churchillian pugnacity that we sorely need in public life in this age of weasel words and gutlessness. When a scummy demonstrator got in his face, Sir Robert punched his lights out.

The only time he went over the top was in his attack on Colin Moyle, for which he later expressed regret. Fact is, he was drunk when he made it—but what he said was true. He regretted it in hindsight because, for all that he was old-fashioned, he was no homophobe.

One on one, he was a perfect gentleman—shy, almost.

He was decency incarnate, a patriot. When his party, under the cowardly, treacherous weasel Bolger, turned its back on ANZUS, he came on television with me to say he was ashamed of the National Party that night.

Our careers, mine in the media and his in politics, went in tandem for over twenty years. I first interviewed him for Radio Nelson in 1971, when he was Minister of Finance. I interviewed him for national television at Auckland’s Downtown Centre on the night of his landslide victory in 1975, and did his funeral commentary with the late Angela D’Audney in 1992. I saw him in and saw him off, with countless encounters in between. In a then-famous spat we had on Morning Report, he said he’d outlast me. Didn’t happen that way, but we both respected each other. He knew that unlike his other interviewers, I was not a leftie wanker.

The irony and tragedy of his prime ministership was that he became more left, economically, than the lefties he despised. But Robert Muldoon was never going to be Robert Mugabe. Helen Clark may not have thrown anyone out of a press conference, but Muldoon never tried to shut the press, or the opposition, down.

And one can only contemplate the delicious delight he would have taken in lampooning the deadly political correctness Helen Clark has helped spawn. When Bellamy’s started serving PC food—alfalfa sprout sandwiches and the like—Muldoon said, “If that’s healthy food, I’d rather be sick.”

Come back, Sir Robert. All is not forgiven, but much is fondly remembered.

( categories: )

Do tell...

Robert's picture

And the bet consisted of?

OK, I'll bow to your personal knowledge of the man and concede that he didn't ~want~ to become a dictator. I'll even concede that drunks often lack discretion and decency that they might have when sober - a point nobody seemed to buy when I offered it as a partial defense for Gibson, hence the reason I raised it now.

But Muldoon sure did one hell of a thorough job of turning NZ into a Polish Shipyard during his time at the helm. And so as far as I can see the distinction is a minute one.

There's a reason that I fondly recall running errands for the Noel Scott for Tongariro campaign as a primary school kid. I had a active role in disposing of the most odious force in NZ politics that I'd ever seen or heard of up until that point.

With luck, I'll be in a position to give financial aid again when it comes time to throw Helen (should we call her Muldoon in heels?) from the gravy train.

As usual ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I took a bet with myself. I won.

I pointed out the drunkenness not to excuse but to point up that ordinarily, Muldoon wouldn't have blurted out what he knew, even though provoked by Moyle and even though it was true that Moyle did bogs.

Sir Bob Jones is the first to agree with my overall assessment here. In fact, it was Sir Bob who arranged the big knees-up for Sir Rob when the latter announced his retirement from politics.

I knew the man better than anyone here. His economic policies were disgraceful, but he had no grand design or desire to become a dictator. And on many issues he was right on the money.

I'm with you Ross.

Robert's picture

If Mel Gibson can't use the 'I'm pissed out of my skull' defense when he goes on an anti-semitic rant, then Rob Muldoon doesn't get to play the same card after shitting all over Colin Moyle.

I salute Sir Rob for his military service. But as a politician, the man was the pits!

Oh, spare me

Ross Elliot's picture

Muldoon led this country to the edge of the abyss and nearly hurled us into it. It was former National Party stalwart and personal friend of Muldoon's, Sir Robert Jones--who formed the New Zealand Party--that split the National vote and delivered Roger Douglas as the unlikely saviour of our country.

People should remember that political and personal freedom falls quickly after economic freedom does, and it it would have happened that way in NZ if Muldoon had not been deposed, just as surely as the turning of the Earth.

As proto-dictators, Clark and Muldoon may be cut from different cloths, but let's not be so wantonly stupid as to pretend, that if given enough rope, they wouldn't both have hanged us all.

But Clark, like Muldoon, won't get the chance.

Sir Robert Would Have Approved

Sandi's picture

I can hear the echo of his infectious chuckle.


Elijah Lineberry's picture

are a couple of biographies floating around.

I have not read them, but yes, up until about 30 years ago from now he was respected.
Then, for whatever reason, (probably alcohol) he went out of control to the extent that even reasonably close friends like Sir Robert Jones could not take it any longer.

He seems like a good man..

Emma Kathryn's picture

Though I was under the impression he was widely respected??

Has anyone read his biography? If it's worth it (in terms of accuracy etc.), I'll make a point to sit down and read it.


Elijah Lineberry's picture

good Lindsay, pleased someone can see beyond the drunkeness and socialist policies when it comes to Muldoon.

I am pleased you brought up about Muldoon being no homophobe, Muldoon had 'been around' knew a lot of gay people and did not believe two men having sex should be a crime.

It is not widely realised that Muldoon was more than happy to repeal the relevant section of the Crimes Act about gay sex, but it was the left wing gay activists and Labour party who prevented it.

He was prepared to 'deal with' the homophobes in his own caucus when it came to a vote on that section of the Crimes Act...but no, the left did not go along and so it took another decade.

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