Friday 26 June 2020

Sack Him, Jacinda. Sack Him Now!

Are You Still Here? Just like his colleague, Phil Twyford – of KiwiBuild fame – David Clark juts out his chin and shamelessly apportions blame to everybody but himself. Even worse, he has turned viciously on Ashley Bloomfield, the nearest approximation to a competent, decent, humble and accountable public servant that this country possesses.

IF DAVID CLARK hasn’t been sacked by the time you read this, then Jacinda isn’t doing her job. His point-blank refusal to accept responsibility for the multiple institutional failures of his Health portfolio more than justifies Clark’s dismissal.

Ministers of the Crown only have one job: to be responsible. As members of both the legislature and the executive they are a living bridge between citizen and state. A ministerial refusal to accept responsibility for failures occurring on his watch is also a refusal to uphold the essence of our Westminster-style representative democracy. If Jacinda doesn’t get this, then she should be given a swift tutorial by someone who does.

Jacinda needs to get rid of Clark for another, much less high-falutin – but no less politically compelling – reason. He was unforgivably disrespectful of Ashley Bloomfield – and Newshub’s cameraman, Billy Paine, captured Bloomfield’s reaction for the whole world to see.

That should not be a survivable offence.

Week-in, week-out, like Jacinda herself, Ashley has stood behind a lectern in the Beehive Theatrette and kept us not only informed, but also calm. Has he let the ball fall through his hands of late? Yes, he has. But, for Christ’s sake, the guy has been carrying half New Zealand on his shoulders (with Jacinda carrying the other half) for months. That he hasn’t been able to catch every single operational curve-ball, thrown at him by every delinquent player in the New Zealand health system, is forgivable – isn’t it?

If anything is likely to provoke such forgiveness, then it must surely be the callous treatment meted out to him by the guy who thought the Level 4 rules were only there for the “Team of Five Million” to follow. The guy who went mountain-biking during Lockdown. The guy who took himself off to Dunedin instead of insisting that – as the responsible minister – he be allowed to stand at his boss’s side for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency. The guy who owned-up on nationwide television to being “a bit of an idiot”.

That guy doesn’t get to be mean to Ashley Bloomfield – and survive.

Surely, Jacinda, you see that? Surely you’re not guilty (as one outspoken right-wing gentleman suggested to me this morning) of having questioned, in the finest Machiavellian style, whether it might not be advisable, during the heroic phase of the Covid-19 war, to have Clark sequestered in Dunedin; bringing him back to Wellington only when all the inevitable blunders, committed by the exhausted employees of our understaffed and under-resourced health system, started coming to light? I told him firmly that you weren’t that sort of politician. Don’t you dare prove me wrong!

New Zealanders need to be shown, Jacinda, that you genuinely understand how pissed-off they are. It’s not just the sheer, mind-numbing dumbness of the mistakes that the people supposedly in charge have been making that’s got us all yelling at the television. Underneath it all there’s the sneaking suspicion that, once again, we’ve been played for fools. Staying in our bubbles; washing our hands; socially distancing; coughing into our elbows: doing all the things we were told to do; while the people in charge, the people paid more than the prime minister, were fucking everything up.

If you want to remain prime minister, Jacinda, you have to give us some sign that you get all this. Because if you don’t, then we, the voters, might start joining a few dots. You know what I’m talking about. We might just recall the young woman who stood in front of us and asked us to join her in transforming New Zealand through the “politics of kindness”. The young woman of “relentless positivity” and “practical idealism”, who said: “Let’s do this!” – and, God help us, persuaded Winston Peters to give her the chance.

But then what happened, Jacinda? After we had given you our votes, what happened next? Were the promises of transformation fulfilled? Did the people charged with rolling out the changes give us anything that looked even remotely like genuine reform? Or, were the voters forced to endure one disappointment after another? Were the only tangible results produced by the general incompetence of your ministers the derisory snorts and disillusioned sighs from the electors they had let down?

Your government’s consistent failure to deliver might have been forgiven if it had led to a radical shake-up of the entire coalition. If you had gotten tough with Winston and his NZ First colleagues: warning them that if the expectations of the people who voted for the governing parties were not met, then you would simply jump in a government car and make the short trip from the Beehive to Government House. If the numbers aren’t there for real change, Jacinda, then the only right move is to go out and win yourself some new numbers!

Sadly, Jacinda, you haven’t followed that course. Instead, and exactly as happened in relation to the failure of our health services to deliver secure defences against the re-entry of the Covid-19 virus, incompetence and arrogance have gone unpunished. Just like his colleague, Phil Twyford – of KiwiBuild fame – David Clark juts out his chin and shamelessly apportions blame to everybody but himself. Even worse, he has turned viciously on Ashley Bloomfield, the nearest approximation to a competent, decent, humble and accountable public servant that this country possesses.

And still, Jacinda, you do nothing. New Zealand’s self-confessed “idiot” of a Health Minister is still in possession of his warrant.

Why? And for how much longer?

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 26 June 2020.


Kat said...

"Why? And for how much longer?....."

Like National is waiting for the next Key to be inducted into parliament so is Labour with a new Health minister.

So probably three months........

Geoff Fischer said...

Accountability is not a feature of the New Zealand political system. The Head of State is accountable for nothing that her government may or may not do, and every Minister and state servant strives for the same level of non-accountability.
Who should be responsible? Not the Head of State, nor the Head of Government. They are only required to be likeable and popular with the public. Nor in recent times have Cabinet Ministers been deemed responsible for the operational failures of their departments. If responsibility rests anywhere it is with Heads of Department. That is not unreasonable given that departments of state these days pretty well operate independently of their Ministers, and their heads are on high salaries commensurate with a high degree of responsibility.
As an aside, it appears that David Clark was sidelined very early in the Covid-19 period, to make way for the highly successful Jacinda and Ashley show. David may be still smarting over that, and reluctant to fall on the sword which he has never been allowed to unsheath. His tacit expressions of pique, such as going mountain biking, were childish of course, but understandable. And he still serves as a useful fall guy, if nothing else.

J Bloggs said...

Hear, Hear!!!!!!!!!

pat said...

sumsuch said...

Twyford and Clark should go.

Light comes from fire. And rationalists/democrats have both. Righteously, unlike fakers/ friends of the rich.

Nick J said...

With Clark it is not the lack of responsibility he claims per se that is offensive. It is shere arrogance and lack of sense of how others see him. If he was a Nat the term born to rule might apply. Begone with him.

Anonymous said...

Is she hoping that David loses Dunedin North to Woodhouse?

This is how to do it.

Raewyn Scott said...

On the incident that has been sensationalized, it seems the unedited clip, that which was seen live, showed it in a somewhat different light. I think it would be good to get the whole thing, though I agree that Clark's demeanour did not endear him to the public.

Along with a lot of people, I am becoming extremely concerned at the amount of manipulation of the news, the increasing muddling of news and opinion, and the quest for "clicks".
We ARE the envy of the world, but what we did, and what we are doing is still in uncharted waters for us.

There is no doubt we took a gamble at the outset, that shutting down the country, with all attendant consequences, could have gone badly wrong, if the advice the govt were acting on was wrong, though it was probably the best advice available at the time.

All govts have taken a punt, but some leaders have pandered more to their own egos than acted in the best interests of their countries. That has not worked well for them, has it?

It would seem, the govt has had to "negotiate" with science advisors, I believe Ashley Bloomfield and others wanted far longer times in each level, which, on a purely scientific basis would have been sensible, but the govt knew the people had to go along with them. Looking back I think they have played the cards dealt them pretty well.

This, from Pip Taylor on Twitter describes it all so well, in my opinion
"Hubby's analogy: they are building the car while having to drive it. How could there not be issues? Of course if you were hitchhiking (see National) you just wait and see what turns up.
I prefer the ones building the car."

As to Clark himself, my understanding is he was home with not only the PMs approval, but at her insistence, in her effort to keep the bubble she was operating in, as small as possible, I have no doubt there were good reasons.

Clark is a very nondescript person, personality-wise and him fronting the daily briefings I don't think would have gone as well as the PM doing it. She HAD to have the country with them, for their strategy to work, and she was the one to do that.

I think much of the opinion around this is optics and it's disappointing me there are few people digging in behind all these "clickbait" stories.

I'll say it again, we ARE the envy of the world as it burns.

Raewyn Scott

Trotsky said...

It was truly shocking watching that incompetent bully boy slagging off Bloomfield while he stood behind him, truly shocking.
Unfortunately although Jacinda is charismatic and an excellent communicator, she is undisciplined and will not rid us of the vile David Clark - just the way she is Chris.

Good article we need to call these clowns and bullies out whenever possible, they serve us and live off our taxes and must be accountable to us - someone tell Jacinda.

Mike Grimshaw said...

Accountability is the driver of populism - on the left and the right.
Labour came into power on the surge of the claim of a new accountability - not from the party but from the totemic figure of Jacinda Ardren.

However, to fail to deliver accountability (the failure of the progressive promises) and now the central failure to recognize the need to demonstrate the politics of accountability in the case of Clarke means a very real possibility of being held to account in the privacy of the voting booth.
Arden needs to look at what Keir Starmer did to Rebecca Long-Bailey and note what accountability looks like in action.

Andrew Nichols said...

to the failure of our health services to deliver secure defences against the re-entry of the Covid-19 virus

Dear God....Even youre into the hysteria? The new cases are returnees not local community transmission. Are you going to stop anyone returning home?

From here in Aus where there are fiascos rampant esp in Victoria, NZ looks like a model of competence yet the picture painted by the local parochial tiny media bubble makes it sound like it's Brazil or the USA..

Clark will go and will probably be rightly deselected as an MP by his electorate committee for his basic dishonesty well before this but seriously, we can do without you getting as daft as the professional whingers in Granny Herald.

As for the Auckland Airport Rail thing, any chance you could spell this out for what it obviously is? Winston willy waving in the leadup to the election, just as with his stymying of the CG, this can be readily rectified by giving the LP and Greens a decent Winstonless majority or better still a Labour Greens less majority given the latter's nonsense veto on Krispa technology research over Pest free 2050.

Flaneuse said...

Thank you Raewyn Scott. You've said everything I wanted to say, but better.

With regard to Dr Ashley, he has earned a place in Kiwi's hearts forever and our sincere gratitude. David Clark will never achieve such distinction or affection.

Kat said...

Speaking of "idiots" the leader of the opposition said today it was "untenable" to keep our borders shut to other countries which have widespread Covid 19. Muller went on to reckon that we would not be able to recognise NZ economically if the borders stay shut.

One can only be left to deduce that this Muller chap is not only an idiot but also a completely mad one to boot. How anyone in control of their senses could vote for this mad idiot is unfathomable.

aj said...

"He was unforgivably disrespectful of Ashley Bloomfield – and Newshub’s cameraman, Billy Paine, captured Bloomfield’s reaction for the whole world to see"

Did you see the full video. Raewyn Scott is correct.
I think people who met me are being unforgivably disrespectful if they don't get on their knees and lick my boots. But that doesn't mean I'm right.

Neville said...

I am with Raewyn Scott 100%. If you think Clark is bad, then look no further than Jonathon Coleman.

Geoff Fischer said...

David Clark is a Labour Party member and a Minister of the colonial government. He is, in short, one of your own. If can you judge him in such harsh terms based on an insubstantial case and without a hint of due process, then why would you expect our own people to abandon the principles of rangatiratanga and kotahitanga in order to follow your colonialist tikanga?

David George said...

I recall John Key sacking an MP for saying "Do you know who I am" to a waitress.
I suspect Jacinda's childish belief that feelings of kindness are, somehow, a universal moral good is the root of the problem.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I recall John Key sacking an MP for saying "Do you know who I am" to a waitress."

A bit hypocritical then, given that he didn't resign for pulling a waitresses hair "playfully".
Are we living in a world now where many of us believe that feelings of kindness are not a moral good, and that such a belief is childish. That's quite frightening.

David George said...

"feelings of kindness are not a moral good"
That's correct, feelings of anger are not a moral good either; our entire justice system is predicated on the understanding that your actions are not dictated by your emotions; you have agency.
What is good or moral and what you feel are different things altogether, a mature adult knows this, a child (and Jacinda) needs to learn it.