Monday, 5 December 2016

The Strange Resignation of a Prime Minister

Rozzie who has worked in the media for over thirty years rang yesterday evening with more than an edge of disbelief in her voice. `We heard that your PM has resigned – in the middle of the night too! What’s the story?’ I waited for a full five seconds before pointing out that to be fair it hadn’t been the middle of the night here. She ignored what I had hoped was irony and said that in her long experience of reporting what went on in the Hallowed Halls of Power, Prime Ministers just didn’t `up and resign’ at the very peak of their popularity and success; there must be more to it. I agreed I had heard the rumours too but it was hard to know what to make of them. The paedophile ring for instance. Believing the PM to be personally involved on a regular basis was tough, especially as its HQ was said to be in Dunedin which, when you came to think about it logically, was at least as far away from his home in Parnell, as Edinburgh was from her own bijou basement flat in West Kensington. The mere travel arrangements involved would be likely to offset much of the idiosyncratic gratification. I added that furthermore I didn’t give much credence to the more recent accusation that he had personally helped in the disposal of the bodies of two young men over the Huka Falls either. It was a decent drive from Auckland in the middle of the night for one thing. Rozzie asked if they had numbered among the Dunedin victims but I felt that was unlikely as they were said to be in their late teens or early twenties which hardly qualified them as children. After some discussion we both came to the conclusion that the claims revolving around the Dunedin group of lowlifes had in all probability emerged in the first place from somebody’s vivid imagination. `What about the financial decisions he’s been making to benefit his rich mates though?’ Rozzie rarely diverged from a core line of questioning so not for the first time I explained that I found it hard to believe he cared enough about his mates to make major fiscal choices on their behalf, and in any case if they were in the same league as himself they were probably wealthy enough already. I added that this particular PM was pretty bloody well off – so well off in fact that he chose to donate most of his Prime Ministerial income to charity. Rozzie was uncharacteristically silent for a while before saying in a voice that was almost deferential, `Blimey I never knew that – you would never get that from our lot over here.’ I then had to admit that you rarely got it from our own lot down here either but added, just to be honest, that there were still those who found a great deal to dislike about him and you only had to glance through social media sites to see that although the spite and venom that featured large was singularly at odds with the plaudits coming from the Real and much Wider World. She wanted to know what my own view was and I said that I was particularly non political and perhaps not especially qualified to comment but even so if she was pressing me I couldn’t find a great deal to fault him on. She said she was definitely pressing me so I added that his greatest strength in my own opinion, was that he was a polite man, slow to snarl and heap insults upon others; this seemed to generally distinguish him in the political arena. `What promotes all the odium from some then? There must be some basis to it.’ Again, she was nothing if not persistent and sounded genuinely mystified. Throwing caution to the winds I ventured that I had come to the conclusion that a great many of his opponents were only truly happy if they had a focus for their overall dissatisfaction with life and a popular Prime Minister often fitted the bill very nicely. Quite apart from all that, in a small country like New Zealand there were perhaps too many personal expectations laid at the feet of the PM. There was a tendency to want he/she who had attained this elevated position to behave more like a social worker than a leader on the world stage. Rozzie had to admit that there was little chance of expecting social-worker-like concerns from Theresa May or any of her immediate predecessors. As one who could distinctly recall the personal foibles of those from yesteryear such as Margaret Thatcher and even stretching as far as Harold Wilson and Harold MacMillan I found myself agreeing that very little empathy for the personal problems that beset the Little Man or Woman arose in much abundance from any of them either.

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