Monday, 3 October 2016

"Hobson's Pledge": Dangerous Message, Harmless Messenger.

Not Enough Mongrel: Don Brash lacks the aggressive personality required to successfully prosecute the cause which “Hobson’s Pledge” seeks to advance. He is a fundamentally decent and unfailingly polite individual, entirely lacking in the brutal instincts so essential to successful demagoguery. In the current political and media environments, Brash’s old world courtesy and his readiness to grant his opponents a fair hearing are interpreted as signs of weakness. And the weak are irrelevant.
 
THE FIRST THING to say about “Hobson’s Pledge” is that its message will resonate with hundreds-of-thousands of Pakeha New Zealanders. The second thing is that the organisation is likely to be both well-funded and well-resourced. There have always been plenty of donors ready to bankroll the proposition that there should be no “race-based privilege” in New Zealand. The third thing is that Dr Don Brash is the wrong man to lead it.
 
Brash lacks the aggressive personality required to successfully prosecute the cause which “Hobson’s Pledge” seeks to advance. He is a fundamentally decent and unfailingly polite individual, entirely lacking in the brutal instincts so essential to successful demagoguery. In the current political and media environments, Brash’s old world courtesy and his readiness to grant his opponents a fair hearing are interpreted as signs of weakness. And the weak are irrelevant.
 
Crucial to the success of similar political movements overseas has been their leaders’ open contempt for the beliefs and values of the political and media elites. They have no respect for either group, and delight in attacking and humiliating them in the most brutal public fashion. As a present member of New Zealand’s financial elite, and a former political leader, Brash is simply too enmeshed in “the system” to engage in such open warfare against it. Indeed, he would probably defend Hobson’s Pledge as an affirmation of the system’s core beliefs and values. It’s why he is so quick to deny the inevitable accusation of racism – a charge of which he honestly believes himself to be innocent. He simply doesn’t understand that his sensitivity on the issue is muddying the clarity and power of the Hobson’s Pledge message.
 
On Saturday’s edition of The Nation, for example, Brash allowed the programme’s presenter, Lisa Owen, and the Labour MP, Louisa Wall, to hector and talk over him in ways that made him appear vulnerable and weak. The sort of people attracted to Hobson’s Pledge are not interested in polite discussion and the scoring of debating points. They’re looking for someone to articulate their rage. Someone ready to challenge not only the elites’ interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, but also to “take on” the media personalities who defend it. In short, they’re looking for a New Zealand version of Donald Trump.
 
Were such an individual to emerge, the political effect would likely be on a par with Brexit and the many other anti-immigrant eruptions across Europe. The elites’ defence of the Treaty and the complex legal, bureaucratic, academic and political consensus arising out of its re-emergence in the 1980s, is at serious odds with the prejudices and resentments of a very large number of Pakeha – especially those living in provincial New Zealand. One has only to recall the overwhelming rejection of the proposal to establish dedicated Maori seats on the New Plymouth City Council to appreciate just how large.
 
Audrey Young, writing in yesterday’s (1/10/16) NZ Herald argues that: “It is hard to see the new Brash vehicle getting anything like the traction he got in 2004. New Zealand has moved on from the bitter days of the foreshore and seabed. Maori are participating more actively in the economy. Genuine treaty settlements are being concluded with pace. Try-ons at the Waitangi Tribunal are seen for what they are.”
 
But it is precisely the elites’ arrogance: their airy confidence that, to quote Sir Geoffrey Palmer: “Insulation from the ravages of extreme opinion has been achieved. The settlements have become mainstream.”; that infuriates Pakeha opponents of the Treaty consensus.
 
It’s what lay behind the extraordinary response to Brash’s in/famous “Orewa Speech”. Not so much the rather mildly expressed content of the address itself, but the fact that it represented such a gaping breach in the formerly solid wall of elite opinion on how best to conduct race relations in New Zealand. That John Key has, over the past ten years, been able to repair the breach, largely through his relationship with the Maori Party, and the indefatigable efforts of his Treaty Settlements Minister, Chris Finlayson, in no way means that the desire to see it re-opened has gone away.
 
It is difficult, therefore, to avoid the conclusion that the instant and aggressive rejection of Hobson’s Pledge by virtually the entire political class, and the reinforcement of that rejection across the mainstream news media, constitutes some pretty loud whistling in the dark. Privately, they must be thanking their lucky stars that the people behind Hobson’s Pledge, unable to find their very own Donald Trump, have had to settle for Don Brash.
 
How long those stars will go on protecting the elites is another question altogether. Because he, or she, is out there, just waiting, in James K. Baxter’s prophetic words:
 
To overturn the cities and the rivers
And split the house like a rotten totara log.
Quite unconcerned he sets his traps for possums
And whistles to his dog.
 
 
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Sunday, 3 October 2016.

18 comments:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Nothing gets middle/provincial New Zealand – dammit I don't even know what to call them. Redneck seems a bit harsh. But nothing gets them quite so upset as the Treaty. You only have to read the comments sections of some of our online dailies. Racism disguised as concern for democracy. Don Brash is older than I am. He should be able to remember when Maori were discriminated against both legally and unofficially. (Some of which still goes I might add) Yet I don't remember him ever being upset at that. Not so much that he'd make a speech about it anyway.

Colonel JH Blimp said...

The call for no "race based privilege" falls a bit flat (I think) : it should be "historical ancestry based privilege". Those who call for the repeal of that notion have a point in that everywhere in the world those situations are second best or a thing people have fought against and won.
Gareth Morgan (or his employees researcher called people who reject Maori places on councils "bigots". I think they just look at those who seek that role and think they are phony: does that make them bigots?

greywarbler said...

It is an unpleasant truth that you reveal here Chris. I was amazed at the meeting about the Constitution Conversation at the number of the old guard, red faced, white haired and united against the achievements we have made, pakeha and Maori, in resolving our 'bones of contention'.

These old, fairly privileged people whose blood as they age turns to vinegar, are keen to overthrow all the work and goodwill that has lifted most of the shame of past centuries because of their own perverted and mean sense of their own inferiority. Maori getting gifts of 'their' money upsets them mightily partly because it raises Maori in the pecking order of those they feel superior to. After all the years of following the pakeha society rules and kowtowing in every way, their thoughts are that these Maoris, these others, are being hoisted up from the lower ranks of the undeserving, and elevated to their same level or, worse, even higher. It is inconceivable, it is wrong to acknowledge and repair the wrongs to Maori.

And the problem for the rest of us who want to move on to better relationships at all levels on the base of these settlements, is that with more pakeha living to an older age this irrational and reactionary cohort gets larger. And the younger group who also feel aggrieved for similar reasons, and who are stuck in the precariat without any whaanu or caring culture to support them, can mount a very high-pitched whine of protest to accompany the lower grumblings of the elderly-thinkers and the demented.

llloyd said...

There was a Donald Trump in N Z. He was locked up for the rest of his natural life by the Maori tribal State that in the last decade or so have taken over. His name is Alan Titford. Remember him? The charges against him are totally spurious. A strategic sanctimonious incarceration that makes Mandela's imprisonment a paragon of justice. The Maori legally privileged status is now entrenched and cannot be changed by democratic political process. Jefferson and Washington were elite civilised gentlemen too. As the MSM have become shrill and completely partisan in their reporting, they resemble the eighteenth century newspapers. The social media resembles the libelli broadsheets of also the eighteenth century. So this might after all be kiwi Donald's finest hour. incidentally everything I have achieved I have had to work for in the face of discouragement and ridicule in New Zealand. If I had a smidgeon of Maori, I would be now a revered Maori academic. Boy I am angry too but have no hate.

Polly said...

I find your post very hard to reply to, I support Maori and have worked with Maori people most of my life.
Being a Maori means you will be discriminated against in white New Zealand and particularly in the white mans clubs in NZ such as management of most major enterprises, trade apprenticeships in most trades, but in saying that their are some Maori progressing very well in whiteys world. ie Loiusa Wall, Simon Bridges there are a lot more of course.
I do not have much time for Maori tribal leadership and I find them in the main to be for themselves first, second and third.
I wish that Tribal Maori would practise more socialism to their brethren, though I will not hold my breath.
Maori living away from NZ tribal Maori particularly in Australia seem to be thriving, though I accept there are exceptions.
I believe Don Brash is doing this exercise for more than the stated reasons and, if I am right, I guess we have to wait and see what they are, otherwise this will not go far.


Colonel JH Blimp said...

Nothing gets middle/provincial New Zealand – dammit I don't even know what to call them. Redneck seems a bit harsh. But nothing gets them quite so upset as the Treaty.
.......
Haters and wreckers love it. Catherine Delahunty talked about the Treaty as a "way to have a renegotiation", or in other words stop society (as it stands now) in it's tracks and re make it in some (in her view) utopian fashion.

People who see the Treaty as "the Foundation Stone of our nation" are fools. Interpretations are all about power and that is all about demographics (which is why Vogel had his policy of mass migration and why Spoonley encourages mass migration from Asia).

John Ansell said...

A brilliant analysis, Chris.

Love him or loath him (and I loath him), New Zealand's Trump is Winston Peters. If Peters wanted to be prime minister (or at least a much bigger player in a National-led government than he otherwise would), he only has to do one thing...

...commit to a binding referendum on a colourblind state as a not-negotiable condition for entering into a coalition with National or Labour.

If he did that, a significant percentage of the 80% of New Zealanders who reject racist representation in poll after poll would vote NZ First.

People like me would swallow the dead rats of Winston's other policies (whatever they may be - nothing terribly draconian, I'm sure) and put up with Peters as PM for three years.

We would do that as the price of reversing John Key's craven surrender of our sovereignty to the Maoristocracy.

The unique problem with this proposal - unique in the whole history of the world, I suspect - is that Peters doesn't want to be PM, and cares more about appeasing his Maori caucus and whanau than ridding his country of state racism.

How can I be so sure of this?

Because if he truly wanted to rid New Zealand of state racism - and wasn't just pretending - he would have died in a ditch for a binding referendum on the issue years ago.

And because Peters and his MPs like Ron Mark and Tracy Martin have ignored or pooh-poohed the idea whenever I've suggested it.

So how to force Peters to follow through on his own policy and have something to show for 40 years of huffing and puffing in Parliament (apart from giving old people free bus and train rides)?

There is only one way. And that is to seed (or have Don Brash seed) the idea of a binding referendum in the public's mind - and in the minds of NZ First supporters - until failure to commit to it by Peters could only mean that he is less than sincere about fixing New Zealand's racial problem, and has been faking all along.

Because if that policy was put to the public by a major party with a high enough media profile, that party's poll numbers would go through the roof.

That party won't be Labour, whose serial stupidity has already seen Andrew Little dismiss Hobson's Pledge as racist. (What a shame for him, as many anti-Treatifarians are - or were - Labour voters.)

And of course it won't be National.

But just watch Key agree in a heartbeat to Peters' demand for a binding referendum as his price for National remaining in power.

I don't think Key is going to want to surrender the Beehive because he prefers to go down with the Maori Party.

And I don't think Winston is going to want to wear the electoral consequences of being exposed as a fake.

What a shame that both Key and Peters will have to be bullied into acting on the wishes of 80% of the countrymen they were elected to serve.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
Totara mostly 'splits like a ribbon' . but no timber splits when its rotten and of corse it's our most wonderfully durable native timber, bad simile that time Mr Baxter.
Much better to have a boorish spokesman for such a movement, then he can be rejected for his offensive demeanour and there will be no need to resort to reasoned argument .
In a sense Hobson's pledge has indeed materialised as there can be few maori indeed, if any now. that have no british blood .
But their disenfranchisement has been comprehensive , Mostly land was held in common ownership though even the concept of land ownership was a new idea. But multiple ownership gave no individual a sufficient stake to be able to farm a an economic unit without sharing the product with 100 or so relatives, so land was left idle and continued to pass into pakeha hands through someone in the know quietly paying the rates for seven years and claiming ownership long after the original land grab.
I don't think plonking the treaty into the middle of our statutes in the 1980s was right, but I do think giving maori a separate hearing in how we develop from here is a reasonable concession .
Cheers D J S

Fiona Mackenzie said...

It's interesting that even you, Chris, ignore Casey Costello - the co-spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge. Does she not fit the media's agenda & stereotyping bigotry?

Bushbaptist said...

llloyd said...
"There was a Donald Trump in N Z. He was locked up for the rest of his natural life by the Maori tribal State that in the last decade or so have taken over. His name is Alan Titford"

Titford is more of a Cliven Bundy than a Trumpy. I knew him from years ago and he was an arrogant shizen then. His wanton destruction of historic sites and his endless attacks on local Maori are un-excusable. The man is where he should be.

greywarbler said...

David Stone
But multiple ownership gave no individual a sufficient stake to be able to farm a an economic unit without sharing the product with 100 or so relatives, so land was left idle and continued to pass into pakeha hands through someone in the know quietly paying the rates for seven years and claiming ownership long after the original land grab.

We note that many NZ politicians have been and are now, also lawyers. Those that I have worked for have not felt inclined to amend laws when mismanagement of problems or unsatisfactory matters arise from bad or inadequate law. The lawyers could have worked with Maori and helped them create commonly held land to be farmed by an agreed person under company regulations that brought them parallel with other companies. Funding for infrastructure could have been borrowed from the Maori Affairs Department which would have provided oversight, budgets and valuable rural education to assist in a good level of husbandry. It is a problem amongst humans that when something is everybody's business, it ends up as nobody's business.

Colonel JH Blimp said...

Lisa Owen calls Don Brash's speech the "infamous Orewa speech". Infamous in whose eyes? A very prejudicial statement much like those who refer to the "infamous "Urewera terror raids"".

Barry said...

I agree with llloyd [sic](3 October 2016 at 14:36) and John Ansell ((3 October 2016 at 17:38) and Fiona Mackenzie (4 October 2016).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Bloody hellfire, I see the weevils are out of the woodwork again, including John "Maori were never here first" Ansell. God, this is all too much. One thing that pisses me off about these people is that they are indefatigable. Just at the moment I haven't got the energy to go through their bullshit point by point. Brandolini's law again. One thing I might mention though, how would YOU describe the Urewera terror raids Blimpy? Considering the prosecutory (that's probably not a word really) outcomes I certainly regard them as infamous. About as much use as the American policeman who went undercover to McDonald's for two months and found half a gram of weed. Teats on a bull stuff really. Offending thousands of people by holding kids at gunpoint, four people actually found guilty of firearms offences, and the complication of Tuhoe treaty negotiations. Great result. A victory for Blimps everywhere.

David Stone said...

Greywarbler
Absolutely, and the dept assumed management of such land, set up 99yr leases mostly to european tenants at a small rental provided the land was broken in; then after 3 generations most of the actual "owners" didn't even know they had a stake, let alone were they organised to recover the land when the lease expired, so it was freeholded by the tenant if that had not already happened. "Partnership" could have been more sincerely applied .
D J S

greywarbler said...

bushbaptist
Glad to hear your cutting comment on Titford. He pushed his barrow to the limit and was recompensed by the government. Still he moaned. And was fated to be an unhappy, unlikeable man.

Colonel JH Blimp said...

Given the problems nations have to deal with is it racist to oppose "bi nationalism"? Can you give us an example of such a system?

Russell Evans said...

guerilla sugeon
Ah yes the euewera raids, If it were not for our inept police force I would suggest tama iti and his mates would be rotting in jail and good riddence.
The rest of your post doesn't really require any comment as it fits with other people of your ilk.