"To the Revolution!"
IT’S THE DAY AFTER the 2014 General Election. We’re at Matthew Hooton’s splendid residence in Parnell and the champagne is flowing. Out in the garden Chris Trotter is holding forth to John Pagani and Matt McCarten when Bryce Edwards steps onto the deck clutching a copy of the Herald on Sunday.
CHRIS: Bryce, you Useful Idiot! Get your arse over here and have some Champagne!
BRYCE: (Waving the paper in front of him) Brilliant column Matt. Just the right combination of triumphalism and spite.
MATT: I try to please.
BRYCE: I especially liked the reference to Shearer’s “Un-lefting of the Left”.
CHRIS: Hardly surprising, Bryce – it’s your concept.
BRYCE: (Blushing) Well, that’s true, I suppose.
MATT: No supposing about it! But how far would the idea have got if Trotter and Pagani hadn’t been around to popularise it?
CHRIS: Or if Shearer hadn’t been smart enough to pick it up.
JOHN: (Winking) No fear of that! It’s amazing what a politician will do with a little encouragement from his friends.
MATT: (Raising his glass) To malleable Manchurians!
ALL: (Clinking their glasses) To malleable Manchurians!
Cathy Odgers approaches the group bearing a tray of Russian caviar.
CATHY: I presume the sort of socialist who’s willing to drink Veuve Clicquot won’t turn his nose up at caviar?
CATHY: Of course.
MATT: So how was the Act bash, Cathy? You must have taken some grim satisfaction at seeing Banksie wiped out in Epsom?
CATHY: Yes and no. It was great to see him defeated – but not by Labour!
MATT: Didn’t I tell you that Shearer had cross-over appeal?
MATTHEW: (Depositing a couple of eye-wateringly expensive Pinot Noirs on the table.) Yes, but that’s only because you bastards were so bloody successful at transforming him into a racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist cunt who made Key sound ideological - while he was somehow allowed to present hard-line communism as economic common-sense.
JOHN: (Perusing the wine label, before pouring himself a generous glassful.) Spoken like a true 1-percenter Matthew.
MATTHEW: Hah! But it won't stop you drinking my wine, will it? Still, what the hell is the Right supposed to do when the likes of Time Magazine makes “The Protester” 2011’s Person of the Year? There were just too many people – like those class traitors Gareth Morgan and Bernard Hickey – who were willing to give all that smelly hippie ‘we are the 99-percent’ crap credibility.
CHRIS: That’s no way to talk about our David. Just because he plays the guitar. (Takes another sip of wine.) This is fabulous Pinot, by the way.
BRYCE: (Excitedly) But Matthew’s right! It was the Occupy movement and the collapse of the Eurozone which finally broke the neoliberal spell. That, and the landslide re-election of Obama on a platform of economic populism. It all conspired to open up the path towards a traditionally left-wing Labour programme.
CHRIS: Which opened the doors of the Labour Party to that most extraordinary of creatures – the ordinary New Zealander.
CATHY: Yes, that was the really clever move. Once the party was pumped full of Trotter’s Waitakere Men it was sayonara for the gaggle.
CHRIS: Ah, yes, the “defenestration” conference. How did Shearer put it: “I’ve worked in places where racial, religious and ideological fanaticism have armed themselves with political power, and I can tell you, the results are not pretty – and offer no models for the New Zealand Labour Party.”
JOHN: Definitely one Trotter’s better lines.
CATHY: You think so? I reckon it was Shearer’s “We must move beyond what George Bush called ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’; it’s time to stop allowing brown skins to excuse black deeds.”
MATTHEW: Bloody disgraceful racist bullshit!
BRYCE: It worked though. The Identity Politicians all marched out in protest.
MATT: With Robertson at their head!
CHRIS: A definite twofer! And not before time. The Clark Years infantilised Labour’s membership. After the upheavals of the 1980s and early 90s they were so terrified of debate and dissent that they forgot how to think for themselves. And when you do that, there are always plenty of people only too willing to do your thinking for you. (Leaning toward the table.) Is there any of that Beluga still going begging?
BRYCE: And after the big walk-out it was pretty much all plain sailing. Because, in most people’s minds, feminism, gay rights, tino rangatiratanga and bossing people around is the Left. When all those people threw themselves out of the window, “Middle New Zealand” breathed a huge sigh of relief. Chris and John hailed Shearer for “de-Lefting the Left”, John Armstrong picked up the quote in The Herald, and ….
MATTHEW: …. I know, I know, iPredict went mad ….
MATT: … and the polls followed suit.
CHRIS: (Spreading caviar on a sliver of rye bread) Eighteen points in a single bound – Don Brash eat your heart out!
MATT: It was amazing really. When Shearer announced he was going to re-nationalise the privatised assets and re-introduce universal union membership, nobody – apart from Business NZ and Federated Farmers – batted an eyelid. Although, I suppose it helped that Obama was doing much the same thing in the States.
CATHY: And that’s it, isn’t it. Parasites in charge from London to Vladivostok. And after the Chinese Communists’ latest anti-capitalist crackdown, I can’t even go back to Hong Kong!
CHRIS: The trick was to make John Key the voice of ideology, and David Shearer the voice of common-sense.
JOHN: Which we did.
MATTHEW: (Rising from the table.) And so bloody well, you Commie bastards! Why do I keep inviting you to these things?
MATT: Because we're good for business?
CATHY: What do you mean?
MATT: Exceltium’s been offered the job of softening up - I mean preparing - the country for the restoration of universal union membership. A big PR contract, with a big price-tag to match.
CATHY: (Rising to follow Matthew) Hmmm? Does he need a lawyer?
CHRIS: What was it Lenin said about capitalists competing to supply the rope that will hang them?
MATT: Comrades. (Rising to his feet and raising his glass.) To the Revolution!
ALL: The Revolution!
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