Name-calling was the name of the game this week – a game in which everyone had a go at tossing the stupidity confetti. James Elliott looks at what the people are saying.
“What’s in a name?” muses Romeo’s Juliet in Act 2 Scene 2. Quite a lot as it turns out. Questioning what’s in a name can be quite a useful distraction especially if you’re Judith Collins and a poll shows that not only is David Seymour a more popular preferred PM, albeit in the single digit preferred PM stakes, even National voters think he is a better leader than you. As the Bard might surmise, never was a story of more woe than this of Judith and her polling blow.
Hence this week’s name-calling distraction. And not the usual kind of “your stupid” “it’s ‘you’re stupid’, stupid” name-calling. This week Judith Collins backed calls for a referendum on the name by which we call our country because Kiwis (and we may need a referendum on the use of that term as well) are apparently getting “tetchy” about the word Aotearoa being used as our country’s name without consultation. “Who’s calling for a referendum?” you may well ask. To which the answer is Stuart Smith. “Who’s Stuart Smith?” you may well ask. He’s the National MP for the electorate currently named Kaikōura, and he’s also National’s climate change spokesperson. Stuart Smith has opined that in the current climate “there is a particular change that, while seemingly nominal, has sparked some controversy; the de facto changing of New Zealand’s name to Aotearoa New Zealand by the Government and in the media”.
“What controversy?” you may well ask. Well apparently you have to “ask the people” because it’s “what people are saying” according to various National Party spokespeople. If that phrase “what people are saying” seems familiar it’s because it’s one of Donald Trump’s go-tos, as Newsroom’s Marc Daalder pointed out earlier in the week. I don’t think that people are saying that National has gone completely Trumpian but people are saying that National is veering towards being at least Trump lite.
… it must be incredibly frustrating for National and Judith Collins to see that the polls are showing that despite all the right-of-right dog whistling by National, it’s David Seymour’s leg that’s getting humped.
People are also saying that since we’re debating names, the National Party should change its name to The Band of the Wrong White Crowd. People are also saying that this is just more of the same nudge, wink and dog-whistle politics from National. People are saying that Juliet would say that that which we call dog-whistling by any other name would smell just as much. National is saying that people aren’t saying this and that it isn’t dog-whistle politics. But people who are vets are saying that they’re dealing with an alarming spike in canine aural trauma.
And people are also saying, at least I hope they are, that it must be incredibly frustrating for National and Judith Collins to see that the polls are showing that despite all the right-of-right dog whistling by National, it’s David Seymour’s leg that’s getting humped.
For his part, David Seymour was able to score some easy runs by playing with the straightest of bats saying that “Stuart Smith needs to focus on bigger things”. That left it to Labour’s Willie Jackson to engage in some name-calling over the name-calling, saying “I think Stuart Smith is desperate and stupid, and part of the more stupider National Party MPs at the moment”.
To be fair, Judith Collins is at least qualified to pass judgment on what makes a poor police minister given that she was one. I mean, she was a police minister, whether she was a poor one or not depends on what people are saying.
Willie Jackson wasn’t the only one dipping his hand into the bag of stupid confetti. Judith Collins also had a crack at Police Minister Poto Williams this week saying that “she [Williams] is someone who just pops out every now and again with a completely stupid view about something, and I actually think she’s the worst police minister I’ve ever seen.”
For those versed in Trumpicana this is known as the double-down defence: defend the original gaffe by gaffeing again. In this case Judith Collins was double-down defending a comment by her that “a lot of people want to bottle her [Poto Williams]”. Collins said she meant “bottle” as in “bottle like a genie” and had said so at the time, as opposed to meaning bottle in the sense of smashing a glass bottle over someone’s head. So putting it all together Judith Collins wants to stuff Poto Williams back into a bottle that she pops out of every now and then with a completely stupid view about something and is the worst police minister Judith Collins has ever seen. To be fair, Judith Collins is at least qualified to pass judgment on what makes a poor police minister given that she was one. I mean, she was a police minister, whether she was a poor one or not depends on what people are saying.
Well, people are saying that if there’s anyone in New Zealand politics who desperately needs to be granted three wishes from a genie in a bottle, it’s Judith Collins. As Romeo says to Mercutio in Act 1 Scene 4 – “You can’t lose if you don’t play the game”. And as people are saying, Judith Collins is certainly playing the game. And bottling it.
Have a peaceful weekend.