Wednesday, September 27, 2006


In a recent episode of The Sopranos, mob-boss Tony Soprano lamented to his counsellor that his recent brush with death had changed his crew's perception of him and undermined his leadership:

Tony: People misinterpret, they think you're weak, they see an opportunity. They're my friends, a lot of 'em, but they're also fucking jackals... It's subtle, but since I've been back I've been noticing certain looks, and people questioning my judgement where they never did before... In a perfect would I'd just relax, let 'em think whatever the fuck they want.

Dr Melfi: Act "as if". As if you're not feeling vulnerable. As if you're the same old Anthony. Strong, I'm sure, decisive. People see only what you allow them to see.

Tony: Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing...

That episode ends with Tony beating the shit out of his bodyguard in front of everyone, just to show that he's not weak, then puking up blood in the bathroom because he's torn a few stitches in his recently sewn-up innards. The comparison with yesterday's caucus suspension of Brian Connell ought to be obvious...


Or, equal comparison, Helen Clark hanging Trevor Mallard out to dry after he, along with half of her senior cabinet, began a war of the worst smear politics in recent New Zealand history.

Trevor was acting under orders. As was Hodgson, Benson-Pope, and others. The strategy failed. Only Trevor took the rap for it.

Brian Connell wasn't acting under orders. He attempted to sabotage the National Party when it had the Government on the ropes. He didn't succeed.

With the kind of allegations floating around Connell, particularly in light of the Roger Payne memo, National is right to put as much distance from him as possible.

It shows a stark contrast: on the one hand, decisive leadership to rid the party of a major political liability, versus Helen Clark's cynical attempts to protect Taito Phillip Field at the cost of her own credibility.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/27/2006 12:05:00 PM

IP, I guess you have a point although whereas Brash's actions are directly comparable insofar as they're designed to head off any challenge, Clark's distancing of Mallard are more like when Tony arranged for Feech to be *caught* with stolen goods and returned to prison.

I also wonder if Connell isn't in fact a sacrifical lamb - sent out to raise the issue about Brash, divert attention to the nasty Labour party but nevertheless allow a coup. Time will tell.

Posted by backin15 : 9/27/2006 01:29:00 PM


There's a fairly significant difference here. Don Brash suspended Brian Connell because Brian Connell pulled the pin of his own hand-grenade.

Claims of National's leadership being shakey have been preposterous spin from the ninth floor.

Sure, the Beehive wants Don Brash to go. They'll do anything they can to talk up National Party disunity, when Brash is thumping Labour in the polls. They will call for him to go every five minutes, and then invent insecurity that doesn't exist.

When National is thumping Labour by eleven points; when Brash's personal credibility is rising; when 52% of voters say that Brash has been on the right track, but 74% of voters say Helen's on the wrong track, who is most likely to be on the ropes?

You say Brash's move against Connell were designed to head off any challenge. Not true. No challenge existed. That's Labour spin to divert attention away from its own crummy behaviour.

A sacrificial lamb is an innocent creature. Connell wasn't innocent. He's a shit-stirrer who's caused trouble once too often.

Mallard, on the other hand, took the political rap for a deliberate Labour Party strategy to smear Don Brash.

Who's the real sacrificial lamb?

The analogy doesn't fit well for Labour, I grant you, for the one reason: that nobody wants to succeed Helen Clark and take the Labour Party to electoral annihilation at the next election. But at the same time, nobody wants to get rid of Don Brash while he's thumping the Government in the polls.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 9/27/2006 02:11:00 PM

backin15 - interesting point, definately one to ponder.

however i do have to take issue with IP's claim that labour "began a war of the worst smear politics in recent New Zealand history."

In no way am i trying to be an apologist for labours tactics, but this type of mudslinging has been going on for ages, from both sides. (umm, whats that thing about helen being a lesbian with a marriage of conveniance to a gay man again?)

Sure, it can be argued that labour fired the first salvo in this battle of the greater mudchucker war. But it can also be argued that this was a response to previous chucking of mud.

what im really saying is we should avoid the partisan "poor (insert party here), why wont the other party play fair" line.
(not accusing of of saying this IP, its just something that crops up a lot)

That sort of thing will only go round and round in circles, much like the tit for tat behaviour of our politicians.


Posted by Anonymous : 9/27/2006 02:21:00 PM

IP, your argument turns on a single issue which is whether or not there's a risk to Brash's leadership, I think we'll have to wait to be sure about who is right on this. Connell may well have been a pain in the arse prior to this, all the more reason to point him in a particular direction knowingly he lacks political judgement - if it wasn't intended, I'd almost be disappointed.

Posted by backin15 : 9/27/2006 03:14:00 PM