Tuesday 26 June 2018

Does The National Party Know Anything About Genuine Conservatism?

Radio Hogwaller: Unfortunately for the National Party, Simon Bridges is no John Key. His Radio Hauraki hosts, Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells, led him by the nose into a slime-filled pit and encouraged him to wallow in it. In the immortal words of Dirty Harry: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Bridges doesn’t know what he can’t do.

IF THE NATIONAL PARTY was a genuine conservative party, Simon Bridges would no longer be its leader. In a genuine conservative party, the outcry against his performance on Radio Hauraki last Friday (22/6/18) would have extracted his resignation within 24 hours. A great many voices would have joined the outcry against Bridges’ boorish denigration of the prime minister and her family, and for a great many reasons. Let’s examine just a few of them.

Genuine conservatism upholds the traditional values of society. The extending of courtesy to all human-beings, regardless of their station in life, is one of the oldest expectations of civilised society. Indeed, the ability to remain courteous at all times is held to be one of the surest signs of true nobility. It is the acknowledgement which those fortunate enough to wield power make to those who lack it entirely.

Bridges discourtesy towards Jacinda Ardern, Clarke Gayford and their baby not only demonstrated his ignorance of the way someone in his position is expected to behave, but was also proof that he is sorely lacking in the qualities associated with a true political leader. He showed himself to be a man without grace, generosity or sensitivity.

More importantly, he showed himself to be a man without judgement. To handle the shock-jocks of commercial radio requires the ability to think clearly and remain in complete control under pressure. Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells are, after all, entertainers who specialise in embarrassing their guests. John Key had a flair for this shock-jock vulgarity and generally handled such encounters with aplomb. Unfortunately for the National Party, Bridges is no Key. His Hauraki hosts led him by the nose into a slime-filled pit and encouraged him to wallow in it. In the immortal words of Dirty Harry: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Bridges doesn’t know what he can’t do.

Bridges conduct also revealed a disturbing lack of moral strength. When one of his hosts demanded to know whether he hated Jacinda’s baby, there was only one correct answer: “No, of course I don’t! What a question!” What we heard, instead, was the weak-kneed equivocation: “Hate is a pretty strong word.” As if a less emphatic – but no less negative – characterisation of his feelings towards the child might be acceptable.

It was that same moral fragility which led Bridges’ into the other traps laid for him by his hosts. Trigger expressions, such as “gender-fluid”, elicited responses that showed him to be a person trapped in the rigid moral binaries of his Baptist upbringing. The kindest description of Bridges’ attitudes towards the LGBTI community is that they demonstrate a profound lack of both empathy and understanding. There are many less generous interpretations that could be offered for his willingness to find humour in the crudest of stereotypes.

Bridges was quick to reach for the excuse of humour when the full awfulness of his Hauraki performance became known. His comments were, he said, “light-hearted”. It is an interesting turn of phrase. Anyone who can make discriminatory comments about his fellow citizens with a light heart may not be the best qualified person to lead his country. Making trans-phobic comments with a light heart does not make them any less objectionable. A genuine conservative might even recall the old saying: ‘Many a true word spoken in jest.’

The most decisive voice raised against Bridges’ behaviour, however, would be the one that decried his lack of gravitas. Only political bomb-throwers like Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy made use of crude demagogic terms like “pinkos” – and that was nearly seventy years ago!

And what is a genuine conservative to make of a person who holds at least two university degrees, and has studied at Oxford, publicly accusing the prime minister of picking up “funny ideas” at university? Such a knee-jerk reversion to the anti-intellectualism of the National Party’s least attractive supporters indicates a deeply conflicted individual who is, at the very least, unwilling to acknowledge his own indebtedness to the power of higher education to expand the possibilities of a young man raised in modest circumstances.

If Simon Bridges was blessed with gravitas – behaviour indicating a serious and dignified personality – the idea of depicting higher education as something dubious or subversive, would be utterly abhorrent. Equally repugnant to him would be the idea of espousing one set of ideas and attitudes to one group of voters and a second, diametrically opposed, set to another. Such dishonesty; such cynicism would be anathema to a genuine conservative.

The ideas and attitudes to which genuine conservative politicians proclaim their allegiance do not change with the audience they are addressing. The serious business of governing one’s fellow human-beings requires honesty, consistency and a full measure of that solemn passion which should distinguish the political life.

If Simon Bridges was such a politician he would never have agreed to appear on Radio Hauraki. If he still aspires to become one, he will never do so again.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Monday, 25 June 2018.


Kat said...

Bridges will never be PM, he is a try-hard "peeing in the shower" Key clone and a miserable failure. The National helicopter must be clocking up a lot of flight time in the search for the next real National party leader.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

there was only one correct answer: “No, of course I don’t! What a question!”

Well he could have said "don't be so bloody stupid!" But I guess the very concept of being stupid is what these shock jocks are all about. I'm quite proud to say I've never listened to them, or the rest of the eejits that do commercial radio up to and including Mike Hosking – whose name I continually have to look up. Except when they appear on Sunday mornings being picked apart by media watch.
As far as Bridges goes though, he is obviously got a long way to go before he becomes an actual politician. Can't see Muldoon making a ridiculous mistake like that – he at least knew how to kiss babies.

greywarbler said...

Chris - Good points. You can say that again mate!

Jays said...

Seems to me that Bridge's behaviour is no worse and certainly less detrimental that Adern commenting that Trump wasn't as orange in real person as she thought he would be.
The truth is that neither "leader" is fit to carry the title.
Bridges lacks the ability to lead and Adern is infantile.
So lets have a little balance here please Chris.

Nigel Waters said...

I'm sorry Chris, I often see you as the 'intelligent left' offering reason and argument where there is usually none but on this issue I have to fundamentally disagree with you. The interview and words have to be taken in context; do we honestly want our politicians to completely de-humanise themselves and come out with robotic PC answers? And 'Shock Jocks', seriously? This is the anchor of the state-owned channel's prime time slot together with a respected contributor to the Herald - not Howard Stern. I urge anyone who hasn't done so to listen to the interview in full and then celebrate the fact that our politicians (whether left or right) can have a good laugh at themselves which Simon Bridges did.

greywarbler said...

Bearing and birthing an infant makes a woman a mother.
Infantile she is not and I think you and your dictionary and judgment need overhauling. As for Trump. he is all at sea, and needs more than overhauling - keelhauling perhaps as they did to earlier pirates.

thesorrowandthepity said...

Read this article then listened to the interview. The worst that can be said is that Bridges isn't funny & should leave comedy to the comedians.
It seems the liberal left have been "triggered" more over a joke taking the piss at their expense over their new golden calf, that of being able to choose ones gender.
That the regressive left will scream with frothing mouths in the faces of anyone who dares threaten their new sacred idol with the heresy of science says it all. That pointing out that there's just 2 genders can cause such vitriol to spew from the demagogues & automaton followers of the left, just shows how regressive they've become. Behold the Progressive Dark Age

Hilary Taylor said...

Some things forever stick in the mind when politicians stuff up. Shane Jones,forever tarnished for me, English et al when expenses claims get whiffy, Turei too, for expecting us to swallow the notion an intelligent 20-something in the 90s 'fell' pregnant & was buffetted by the slings/arrows of outrageous fortune. Bridges has confirmed he's a 'babe in the woods' for me...what occurred doesn't shock me, peurile yes...just that he fell for it. Dear oh dear.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"there's just 2 genders"
Sorry, you can't spout on about science and then claim this. I argue this all the time on American websites and I can't be arsed spending a lot of time on it here. Talk to a biologist. Now tell you the science. Because obviously claiming there's more than one gender triggers you.

greywarbler said...

Sorrow no pity
You are at odds with science. There are two genders yes but each person with mixtures of hormones and cultural influences. How people behave and feel is influenced by those two aspects. We all have male and female hormones. Apparently the ones that create the dominant sexuality decline as one gets older and in old age men can get more kindly, women more assertive etc.

Children may be borne with both genders seeming dominant. Don't worry about it I suggest. Just put it in the box with all the other surprising things that are happening, shrug your shoulders, and think about something that you can make a difference in - give a donation to Medecins Sans Frontieres where they know what life is and are dealing with it face to face, no matter what gender.

Or worrying about NZ, you could donate to the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust where people really in need are helped by nurses and doctors pro bono. (They do not receive any government funding.)

Or are you not 'that' worried, you just like foaming at the mouth.
I suggest you utilise this time to clean your teeth. Go green, save toothpaste!

greywarbler said...

Please put your name forward to stand for politics for the party of your choice. We need clear thinking people of integrity like you. I am so sick of all the BS we have to put up with now. You are what we need -
someone who sees things clearly and has the stamina to overcome privations and temptations and Get Things Done that need to be done.

Kat said...

Hilary531, not wanting to appear presumptuous but is your regard for Shane Jones being tarnished over his dalliance with blue movies. If so then crikey that would mean most of our Kiwi males are tarnished, or is it perhaps the ignominy of him being caught out.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kat. I agree. As the late great Spike Milligan once said or rather put the words into one of his characters mouths – " Tha'll never stop fookin' in Bradford." I doubt these days if there is a computer in the country without some porn in its recesses somewhere. :)

Geoff Fischer said...

Simon Bridges is not a conservative, and many years have gone by since the National Party was a conservative party. Winston Peters is a conservative (one of the very few left in the New Zealand parliament) and it is a fair assumption he would have handled Heath and Wells in the way that Chris suggests. But it is also a fair assumption that Peters would not have been invited onto the programme in the first place, and even if invited would have declined to appear. That is because the New Zealand media itself is no longer conservative in Chris' sense of the word. No longer polite, measured, reflective, inquiring, humble or respectful of authority. Media celebrities see themselves as more important than politicians. They have a larger audience, to whom they speak more often than any politician. They are more charismatic, and to their own minds more intelligent and knowledgeable than the politicians. They have an egoistic view of their own role as the "fourth estate", the tribunes of the people and the true guardians of democracy. At the same time they can be completely frivolous, confident that their frivolity demonstrates their fundamental oneness with the common man. They will not tolerate a politician who appears to put himself above them or their on-air antics. Peters would have nothing of this and he paid the price. Bridges is of a different mettle. He accepts that this is modern politics, and that is the way he will play it. Will it work for him and the National Party? Possibly. The old school presumptions about what will work and what will not are no longer reliable. Before the US presidential election an erudite and respected left-liberal commentator in New Zealand declared "Trump is toast" on the basis of his outrageous statements and reported actions. Whether for better or for worse Bridges is not Trump of course. Bridges is an insider who has decided to go with the system rather than challenge it. He is going to cool with the media, and trust them to play cool with him.
There is a connection to an earlier post from Chris which put the question "What's wrong with our bloody ships today?". My answer is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the design and construction of those ships. They are not fit for purpose, or at least they are not fit to my purpose. They may however serve the purposes of a man like Simon Bridges.

jh said...

I see Phil Goff took the heat off the coalition by banning Lauren Southern and Stephan Molyneux. The excuse being "health ans safety" - to protect them from Valerie Morse.