Brain-fades, batons, and ‘Boks
Michelle A’Court wrote this piece about the 1981 Springbok tour – her personal experience of one of the defining moments of our modern (albeit short) history,
Clearly, the Tour and surrounding events made a lasting impression on her – as it did with so many other New Zealanders. In her piece, she made this subtle reference to Key’s recent brain-fade about his own position on the Tour,
In 1981, John Key and I were both 20-year-old university students – he at Canterbury, me at Victoria.
These were the years before student loans, when we studied free and bursaries covered tuition and most of our living costs.
Without a terrifying debt waiting for us at graduation, many of us engaged with a broader education than just our prescribed courses.
Student media, drama, political activism . . . I often wonder if the shift to student loans was as much about social repercussions as fiscal concerns.
My memories of the 1981 Springbok tour are vivid.
The photo in the story is one of hundreds – thousands – that were taken of a momentous event that rocked this nation to it’s core. For many, the wounds have only just healed, as with former policeman and Red Squad leader, Ross Meurant,
Last night, Mr Meurant told the crowd, who had permission to be on the playing field for the service, that Mandela had been an “outstanding statesman” and “one of the most precious and remarkable gifts ever bestowed to mankind”.
Mr Meurant, who hadn’t been back to the stadium since the infamous protest, said the events of the tour had changed him forever. “The greatest journey has been my personal development, from deep in the forest of police culture and distorted reality, to the ability to see where I was wrong – and where the system fails us,” he said.
For this blogger, the 1981 Tour was also a pivotal moment in my life. It marked the moment when I realised that my heretofore right-wing views were horribly wrong and that I had had a simplistic, naive, and distorted view of the world.
There had been other previous instances, such as Muldoon’s (unsuccessful) determination to fell the country’s last remaining native forests at Pureora and elsewhere. Or the United States toppling left-wing governments and supporting the installation of right-wing – often military – dictatorships. All while mouthing platitudes about being the standard bearer for democracy for the world.
The person that I was, vanished, as I watched New Zealanders being batoned and bloodied by police – something out of Roger Donaldson’s “Sleeping Dogs” movie, that had been released only four years previously. The movie (based on C.K. Stead’s novel, “Smith Dream“) was eerily and frighteningly prophetic.
So it beggars belief that our current Prime Minister claims that he cannot recall his position on the Tour. As far back as 2008, when he was asked by a TV journalist,
“In 1981, were you for or against the Springbok Tour?”
“Oh, I can’t even remember … 1981, I was 20 … ah … I don’t really know. I didn’t really have a strong feeling on it at the time. Look, it’s such a long time ago.”
Which is odd, as politics was passionately discussed in the Key household, with John Key being unashamedly pro-Muldoon and pro-National,
Sue also remembers fiery debates between her mother and brother. “Mum was fiercely Labour and John was fiercely for [National leader Sir Rob] Muldoon,” says Sue. “I used to take the middle ground, they’d be on either side of the dinner table just about with knives out on each other as to who was right.” So, even at a young age, he had gravitated to National, in spite of his mother’s left leanings.
At one point in his childhood, Key gave his mother a National Party rosette for her birthday, to wind her up. She kept it until she died.
One of his fellow University students, Paul Commons, stated,
“If he had political aspirations then, I don’t remember them but he was certainly very politically engaged and aware and very much a supporter of the Muldoon Government. I don’t remember him being an active member of any party and certainly was not politically active on campus.”
Had Key and his family been apolitical and utterly dis-interested in current affairs, one could accept Dear Leader’s statement that “I can’t even remember … 1981, I was 20 … ah … I don’t really know. I didn’t really have a strong feeling on it at the time”.
But not when he and his family were politically conscious and Key had already formed a strong preference for the National Party.
If Key genuinely cannot recall one of the most violent and divisive issues of the latter part of the 20th Century – then that suggests he is suffering from some form of early dementia. In which case he is not fit to be Prime Minister, much less hold office of any description. He should be seeking urgent medical intervention.
Or, as more likely, Key is simply lying. Again. Not for the first time, Key has resorted to mendacity to get out of a sticky situation he is unable to cope with.
Let’s be clear here – the Springbok Tour affected the collective psyche of the entire country.
On a personal level, it changed my own political compass 180 degrees so utterly and so radically, that I would barely recognise myself thirtythree years ago.
But Key evidently can’t remember any of it.
The article by Ms A’Court also featured an associated poll which asked people which side of the issue they were on,
It is interesting to note the the Pro-Tour and Anti-Tour response is roughly equal – reflecting the same situation which existed back in 1981.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 January 2014.
Fairfax media: John Key briefed on Dotcom spying in February
Fairfax media: Springbok tour memories still vivid
NZ Herald: In search of John Key
Previous related blogposts
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $20.20/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
~ Reduce poverty, like we reduced the toll for road-fatalities
~ State housing for life
~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Stronger communities
- Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock
- Letter to the editor – Bill English dives head first into the cover-up cess-pool
- Letter to the editor – Commission of Inquiry, NOW!
- TV3’s The Project – A Babyboomer lowers the boom
- The Rise and Rise of Daddy State: MSD blackmails NGOs for private data
- 2017 – Ongoing jobless tally
- Trumpwatch: The Art of Deflection
- Trumpwatch: Fake News, Soft News, and Non-News
- The Mendacities of Mr English – The covert agenda of high immigration
- Election ’17 Countdown: The Promise of Nirvana to come
- Trumpwatch: “… then they came for the LGBT”
- Election ’17 Countdown: Joyce – let the lolly scramble begin!
- Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu
- Trumpwatch: The Drum(pf)s of War
- The Mendacities of Mr English – Social Services under National’s tender mercies
- Trumpwatch: Muslims, mandates, and moral courage
- Trumpwatch: Voter fraud, Presidential delusions, and Fox News
- Cutting taxes toward more user-pays – the Great Kiwi Con
- St John management applies tourniquet to workers’ throats
- Letter to the editor – Juliet Moses does NOT speak on my behalf!
- The Legacy of a Dismantled Prime Minister
- Trumpwatch: Trump escalates, Putin congratulates
- Protestors condemn Russian involvement in atrocities in Aleppo
- The Sweet’n’Sour Deliciousness of Irony: Russia accused of meddling in US Election
- Charter Schools in a Post-Truth Era
- The Dismantling of a Prime Minister – Completed
- The Mendacities of Mr Key # 19: Tax Cuts Galore! Money Scramble!
- The Rise of Great Leader Trump
- An earthquake separates John Key and ‘The Iron Lady’, Margaret Thatcher
- When Life is a Lottery
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- 448,634 hits