Confessions of a Trendy Leftie
I’ve got to tell you, this column was very nearly a very long and public suicide note. All because of something someone wrote about me.
All the way from Quebec, it turns out.
Being called names goes with the territory, of course, But this! Dear, dear, dear.
It was part of another blast from Andrew Love, who is, you will note, on distant but first-name terms with me and who roasted me last week for opposing monstrosities of buildings planned for downtown Auckland.
Quotes from this, his second long and otherwise lucid letter:
“... It’s symptomatic of the malaise within the country ... riddled with people who are against change, against development and against doing things differently.
“So, what do the best and brightest do, Pat? They vote with their feet, taking advantage of one of the world’s best passports.
“The irony here Pat, is that it was your generation, in their infinite wisdom, who collectively believed that nine years of Robert Muldoon was in the country’s best interest.”
Now, that was the stage I reached for a sharp blade? Cruel. Me! A Muldoon supporter? Rather than slashing my wrists, I decided all I could do was to plead not guilty – and then some.
Strangely, I felt I also owed it to the late and, to me, unlamented Robert Muldoon.
He would have been appalled by any inference that he had had the support of a SuperTrendy Media Leftie like me. (“Trendy Leftie” was a favourite and spiteful Muldoon label for anyone who opposed him.)
Like me, who with my wife and children marched against the 1981 Springbok tour, who as an editor wrote on the front page of the Auckland Star why I refused to publish the list he released of 30odd people who were, he said, public or secret members of the Socialist Unity Party, the country’s communist cell of those days.
Me. Who harried his government in print endlessly for years until he freed Arthur Thomas and then nagged him all over again for the royal commission that followed.
Me, who with my wife gave comfort and shelter to Bill Sutch during his senseless agony over the spy charges against him.
Such a calumny! I also feel a duty to people like Tom Newnham, John Minto, Trevor Richards and the rest who could now be at risk and need protection from being tarred with the same very wrong brush.
Trendy Leftie? If that’s how he saw us. Muldoonists? Hardly.
But Andrew went further than just buildings.
We are, it seems, also guilty by association because we happened to be alive during the Muldoon dictatorship and shared the lifetime of a generation which, he says, set “the brightest and the best” on their trek to Australia and beyond.
We are now apparently bleeding our “young who in many cases are university or tradeeducated. Many do not return. After all, why would we? We’ll come back to the same lack of creativity, political correctness gone mad and obsession with stopping every large-scale development which could, in so many ways, benefit the city and country as a whole.”
What a responsibility. What a terrible burden I share. I can feel my fingers reaching out for that sharp blade again. Also in the mail: From Kathy Torpie, Sandringham: “I cringe every time I hear someone wistfully yearning for Auckland to be ‘world class’.
“I came here from New York – long before all the development began – and found Auckland so in a class of its own that I gave up an around-the world trip on the yacht I was crewing on to stay here.
“When people heard my accent back then, they asked: ‘But, don’t you find it boring here?’ Ha!
“A city on the edge of a magnificent harbour. A picturesque island volcano smack in the centre.
“Clean water – children actually swam near our yacht tied up at the bottom of Queen St. Islands with sandy beaches where anyone could afford to live. The wild west coast beaches only a short distance away. Victorian homes everywhere I looked. Never locked the doors. No traffic. Safe to walk around any time, day or night. Everyone so damned kicked back that I drank it up.
“World class? Are you kidding? I have travelled widely and know few places in the developed world that offer what Auckland did then– except, I admit, the food, which was awful.
“The more ‘world class’ we become, the more we become just like the places those tourists – who you talk about wanting to attract to New Zealand – have left behind.
“Why don’t they hang out in Auckland city?
“Because they came here for the natural, unspoiled environment that we are so recklessly taking for granted in our yearning to be ‘world class’.
“They don’t want to travel across the planet to see more big buildings like the ones back home. “Why would they? “If we were to showcase Auckland’s natural beauty rather than our insecurity, you might be surprised by how much more attractive we would be.”
Talking about a brain and brawn drain, remember the Pole in the hole in last week’s photo comment on migration trends from Europe into Britain?
Well, here’s the same pic, above, tweaked as a New Zealand version, from Dawn Tolomaki – whose email address “Taranakigirlatheart” struck a chord with this Taranaki-boy-at-heart.
New look: All it took for Dawn Tolomaki’s amusing new look was a subtle change in one label and a new title: “Australia today”.