Wednesday, 22 July 2009

21st century history - what's wrong with your memory, Chris?

If a week is a long time in politics, it isn't long enough for Chris Torotter to change his mind.

Fully thirteen days elapsed between Chris Trotter's enthusiastic proclaimation that Phil Goff could (and by implication should) be prime minister, if only he has the courage to behave in a thoroughly unprincipled manner (1), and his denunciation of Goff for behaving in a thoroughly unprincipled manner (2).

Earlier in the month, it seemed, Goff was being given a "a heaven-sent opportunity to re-connect with the constituency Labour turned its back on between 2005 and 2008." But then, last week, when the he suggested his party's efforts to advance democratic socialism were "nineteenth century history," Goff was repudiated.

The opportunity, perhaps inevitably, was the recrudescence of Winston Peters. Perhaps Trotter is confusing opportunist with opportunity? He exhorted Goff to "ve got the balls to do what all leaders must do, one way or the other." Expediency, it seems was to take the place of principle, and even experience. No matter how distateful, Goff should see "power lying in the gutter – and pick it up."

Chris should remember that one rarely sees much of worth in the gutter. Dog turds, litter, occasional drunken vagabonds and used prophalactics - all of which might be with Peters in a game of word association - but not power.

Then came the remarkable moment.

Not the admission of disillusion itself. No. What was truly remarkable about Chris's about-face was that he missed a fine opportunity to indulge his taste for biblical parallels.

Admitting to the world he had lost faith in Goff, couldn't he have characterised the hapless Phil as Judas, selling out his party and the proletariat for filthy lucre? Or cast himself as Saul of Tarsus, simultaneously blinded and enlightened on the Damascus Road?

At least in the latter case, I can understand why he refrained. Winston might have - almost - said 'sorry' for destroying his party through his arrogance and ego, but Chris struggles to admit he was wrong about Goff. Back in March last year, Chris was busy warning people that Labour were going to lose the election if they didn't ditch Helen Clark in favour of ... Phil Goff (3).

Yet not once in his denunciation does he admit that, well, he once thought that having Goff as leader was a rather good idea. Dismayed by Goff's disinterest in the history of the Labour movement' Chris struggles to recall what happened in the 21st century.

Still, we can not accept perfection. We're glad you've finally caught up with us, Chris. We've a few rounds ahead of you, but come on in, anyway. I know it looks crowded, but there's still space at the bar for you. That's what's great about this place - it's always full, but there's always room for a few more. Who needs the Labour Party? We're the best party in town - the disillusioned, scorned left. We might be marginal, disinherited and riven with factional squabbling, but we do like to drown our sorrows. It takes a long time, there always seem to be plenty of things to be sorrowful about.

You're a little late, but don't worry, the bar is well stocked with Tears and Gall. Or try some Wormwood. Yes, I know it tastes bitter. Its meant to. That's the point. You'll get used to it.

If you're hungry, you can eat some of your words, or swallow a piece of humble pie. Oh, you're not hungry? What about something thin and insubstantial - they do a good John Key Burger here. I find them a bit cheesy, but a lot of people seem to like them. Not that, even? Oh, you swallowed your pride on the way in ... don't worry, no-one here has much of an appetite, really, we've all had a gutsful of Labour mendacity already (4).
1 - "Slouching towards Wellington," Chris Trotter, posed on Bowalley Road, 6th of July, 2009. ( Further quotations from this essay are used throughout.
2 - "Nineteenth century history - The hell with you, Phil!," by Chris Trotter, posted on Bowalley Road, 19th of July, 2009. ( Further quotations from this essay are used throughout.
3 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: He didn't just do it once, either:
4 - Adapted from comments posted by lurgee on Bowalley Road, 19th of July, 2009.

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