Sunday, 7 January 2018

James Patrick Anderton 1938 - 2018

James Patrick Anderton 1938 - 2018

JIM ANDERTON has died, peacefully, at the Cashmere View Hospital in Christchurch, aged 79.

It was Jim's fate to be both the Labour Left's greatest strength - and its greatest weakness.

For all his faults, however, the parties he led in the Alliance, most especially the NewLabour Party which he founded in 1989, carved out a position on the left of New Zealand politics which made it impossible for the Labour Party to drift any further to the right.

The Labour-Alliance Coalition Government 1999-2002, in which he served as Deputy Prime Minister, ushered in a period of important reforms - not least the establishment of his pride and joy, Kiwibank.

More than any other single political leader, he restored the electorate's belief that progressive, centre-left policies were, once again, achievable in New Zealand.

For that feat, alone, he deserves to - and will - be remembered as a political leader of rare ability and significant achievement.

Rest in peace, Jim.

This posting is exclusive to Bowalley Road.

14 comments:

peter petterson said...

One of the best presidents the NZ Labour Party had - rebuilt the party after nine years of disastrous Muldoonism.

greywarbler said...

My view of Jim Anderton had dimmed. Thank you for such a good and deserved tribute that in a few words reminded us of what he achieved for us. So
thank you Jim, a staunch worker succeeding in the political art of the possible at the highest level when it counted.

countryboy said...

Recalled by the administrator perhaps?

This is interesting, in my view. A short clip exploring the theory that we, all of us, are rearward projections living virtual-reality lives. If that's so then clearly, as in my case, we have no choice as to what we will be. I.e. I'd have wanted to be a butterfly and have a short, silly, pretty life flinging my eggs about and chewing holes in cabbages.
Having said that, we should be careful about what we wish for. I think it may have a bearing on what the 'outcome' might be. So, butterfly it will be! Whoo Hoo ! Anything other than middle management living in a beige, debt coffin in Rolleston.
https://boingboing.net/2018/01/03/mind-bending-supercut-of-compu.html
Dear old Jim. I remember him fondly. A brave Goldfish with a beautiful heart choosing a tank full of Eels to push for a fairer go for fellow Goldfish.

@ Gorilla Surgeon.
Jealousy is an unfortunate affliction Dear Fellow/Femme. Save your spiteful little barbs for your friends and family and leave me the fuck alone.

Victor said...

“Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don’t know how far we can go.” – Bernard Malamud

RIP Jim. I am greatly saddened by your passing.

We only met once and it's engraved on my memory.

Darien Fenton said...

Thank you Chris. There will be many stories and books written about yours and my time. But today, we respect a man who stood up ; sometimes we agreed with him ; a lot of the times I despaired about the tactics. But he held true to the end.

Kat said...

RIP Jim. I couldn't wait to join Kiwibank and did so the day it opened. All that is needed now is for Kiwibank to be the govt's bank.

David Stone said...

Rest in peace Jim Anderton
There wasn't much west or peace in Your life. A noble struggle for a fairer society.
D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Save your spiteful little barbs for your friends and family and leave me the fuck alone."

'Twas not a spiteful barb as such, more a plea for brevity and comprehensibility.:) If I was meaning to be spiteful, you'd know it. I generally refuse to read comments that are longer than the original column. Your's sometimes start out interesting but I'm afraid I sort of fall asleep in the middle of them.

greywarbler said...

Countryboy
Don't diss GS as he as well as others advise you to be shorter in your prose. He is not trying to shrink your stature, your comments are worth reading. But where to cut, aye, there's the rub. If you can bend your pride and work on it there would be content for a small publication in a year or so of your best output.

And this very disagreement is an example of how hard it is for the thinkers of the Left to gather and work harmoniously. All of us can't be right all of the time. But taking a step back and having a full and frank discussion without everyone taking umbrage could have had the Alliance creaking on and rising strong when opportunity allowed.

BlisteringAttack said...

I recall a story about Kiwi Bank as told by one of the tellers.

When Kiwi Bank first started operations a man walked into a Kiwi Bank branch in Invercargill and thumped $16,000 odd in cash from his Swanni pocket on the counter. Said he wanted to open an account and to make an immediate deposit.

He had withdrawn his life savings when banks were getting sold off. And had stored his money in a water proof bag in a pit in his garden.

He wanted to open the account and make a deposit because - as he informed the young teller - he 'didn't want foreign cunts to take and make a profit on his money.'

Such was the beauty of Jim Anderton's Kiwi Bank.

RIP Jim - a true New Zealand patriot

Anonymous said...

Like others have said, Kiwibank was one of his biggest achievements - banking for the small towns when all the big Aussie banks were closing down in those towns. Shame to see Kiwibank doing the same and closing small town branches. And why is the government not banking with Kiwibank - I did ask a government minister once why, and the answer was that their credit rating was not strong enough to have the government's money flow through it. Well, put all the government's money in and then maybe its credit rating will soar. Now there is a Labour led government, maybe they should be looking at both issues - retaining/expanding branches and becoming the government's banker. I'd bank with Kiwibank myself except at the moment its business banking options are pretty minimal if any....

sean fliegner said...

Kia Ora Chris-Sean Fliegner - I served on the NZ Council of the Labour Party with Jim and was a friend before and after - some reflections from an eyewitness:

A mighty Totara has fallen.

Jim held the beacon of social justice high - and followed its shining light - true to its course - at great cost to himself - only to be proven right.



James Patrick Anderton: 'maverick', 'rebel.'  No. The rest of us - we were the mavericks. 


Inequality costs lives. Literally. New Zealand leads the world - in youth suicide. Our kids - so abandoned for so long - that we need, and mercifully have, a minister responsible for the alleviation of child poverty here. Jim saw this coming.


Jim was alive to the costs of inequality. The last straw was the sale of the Bank of New Zealand. The Z in public ownership was one of a jigsaw puzzle of  institutions that kept our economy and society stronger. The returns to the taxpayer owners helped pay for mums cataract operation, helped pay for grand dads hip replacement, helped keep education free.

The sale was the then labour governments abandonment of Labour values, in favour of the neo-liberal policies that have elsewhere contributed to the working class revolts - one for Brexit, the other, millions of blue collar votes for Trump. Jim saw behind the policy wars this reality: abandoning kiwis to market forces was going to hurt lives, and cripple life opportunities.


I was on the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party and a friend of Jims before and after. I recall being with Jim on the first day he sat as an indendent MP - the tray of papers he took on to the floor was stacked high - as well it might, he being the last of the Micky Savage/Norman Kirk Labour evangalists in Parliament. So it seemed.

I was in a small minority, with Jim and few others in disgust at the decision by Labour to go along with the removal of citizenship rights - bestowed by the Law of the land - on Samoans. Our then highest court, ruled correctly, that our laws made available citizenship rights, but in the face of almost universal outcry, the dog-whistle of anti-Pasifika racism won the day, and the law was changed. This chapter of our experience as kiwis is one of our darkest. Jim's outspokenness was regarded with derision and cries of treason. But again Jim followed the shining light. Today the racist dog whistle is gone, and Auckland welcomed as the biggist Pacifika city in the world. Jim was there first.


I vowed that if ever I could, I would remember this episode. In a case called Tavita v Minister of Immigration, as lawyer for the family, that the state was about to rend asunder, I argued that international agreements New Zealand had signed - protecting the rights of small children, who needed to be kept with their mum and dad, were not window dressing. The Court agreed. Jims shining light lit my path.

And so it is today, we remember Jim and what Jim stood for. His creation - Kiwibank - then derided as boutique craziness, is an outstanding success, employing kiwis, keeping profits here. Jim was right.

And so it has come to pass, free university education, massive investment repairing broken parts of our country, help for parents looking after kids, action on child poverty, billions to be spent fixing ruined lives - creating opportunities. All brilliant. None necessary had Jim held the day.


In Jims back bench office, there were many who joined the cause of social justice, and stood with labour values. Two I saw most are Sally Mitchell, Jims secretary/minder/organiser, and John Pagani/adviser/confidante.

Jim held the beacon high. If our new government lives up to its promise, the path of light will shine mightily, and so will Jim's values - our Labour values be resurrected.

Athene said...

As an active committee member of the Auckland Central Branch of the L.P. I was in the middle of the melee when Prebble etc. forced the Right policy on us all, ignoring the Humanist tradition of Labour. After a nasty internal battle, many members just left the party. Jim gave us somewhere to go where our ideals still mattered, and he was staunch in the work he did so that we should have a structure where we could stay true to ideals. The structure changed as time passed, but Jim stayed as a leader for years. Thank you, Jim.

sumsuch said...

I remember Jim Anderton as a hero, a speaker of truth in the dark night. I regret he and Matt McCarten were political apparatchiks ultimately, before and despite their rightness. You left New Labour pretty early, Chris.

Then he betrayed the Alliance c.2000 and he was dead to me. Only in actual death can I acknowledge him. I'm glad I'm (almost) over heroes. And I'm glad for his speaking for truth, that once made Richard Prebble pale into truth (1999 TV election interviews).

Appreciate your contribution, Mr Fliegner. Funny how we all knew from the start it was all a 'step to the right' for the rich. How vital RNZ was as the only media that allowed Kim Hill to laugh in Richard Prebble's face when he lost Auckland Central. So many brief moments of oxygen. Let's make it all oxygen like in 1935. The only thing lacking for that is the half-ignorant, half-egomaniacal force of those politicians. Essence of vanilla upon that, the ideals of fairness. Which is to say, I think the new govt members lack FORCE.

Bryce Edwards made the best salute to Jim Anderton: the first to raise the political banner, now taken by all who morally and rationally matter, against the pluto-cratists of 1980.

If only all the new ministers would read your comments Mr Fliegner.