Conspiracy theories are taking on all sorts of forms this week – and spending a lot of time in Parliament. James Elliott lays a few of these bare, while pondering Mike Hosking’s prescience.
I suspect we’re getting inured to the daily deluge of conspiracy theories unleashed across all media – mainstream, social, and a Lithuanian Youtuber called Tiesa kūdikis 666 who’s hacked into the artificial intelligence algorithm that controls the thoughts of a 78-year-old man from Delaware otherwise known as Joe Biden.
In that context it would have been easy to overlook a particularly flaky conspiracy theory of sorts floated earlier this week, all the more alarming because it was floated by National Party leader Judith Collins. Asked to explain National’s dismal polling of 28 percent and her own dismaller polling of 5 percent she Judithsplained that the polled public doesn’t like the party/leader combo who have to tell them that they were sold a pup at the last election and that the Government “has absolutely and utterly failed”.
In other words nearly three-quarters of the voting public have got an acute case of “shoot the messenger syndrome” which explains why I’m furious at Grant Nisbett for telling me that the All Blacks lost to Ireland last weekend and I’m apoplectic at Simon Doull for telling me that the Black Caps lost the T20 World Cup final to Australia.
On the topic of Simons, every dismal poll result for NatCo invariably results in Simon Bridges being asked if he’s conceiving, conspiring and/or concocting another leadership challenge. And every time he says he isn’t. This week was no different with Simon listing three things, within the space of 38 words, that he’s enjoying other than being National’s leader. Four if you include Judith’s poll rating, which he most expressly isn’t. Still, he enjoyeth too much in the space of 38 words, methinks.
Nearly three-quarters of the voting public have got an acute case of “shoot the messenger syndrome” which explains why I’m furious at Grant Nisbett for telling me that the All Blacks lost to Ireland last weekend and I’m apoplectic at Simon Doull for telling me that the Black Caps lost the T20 World Cup final to Australia.
In other National Party news this week Mike Hosking pontificated on what should be in the terms of reference for a Royal Commission into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. The timing of this pontification was curious, coming more than two weeks after Judith Collins called for such a Royal Commission. Curious because the usual sequencing of National Party policy announcements is Mike Hosking first, typically in a column that begins “So…”, with the political arm of the party tailing along in his slipstream a few days later.
In any event there’s no longer any need for a Royal Commission because, in addition to listing the Royal Commission’s terms of reference, Mike has helpfully also set out its findings as to how the Government has handled the pandemic. “Badly wanting”, “shambolic”, “glaring inconsistencies” it’s all there. And who, in particular, does he blame? Well, obviously it all goes back to September 23, 2017 and the election that resulted in Labour being the major party in a coalition government “that was only running the place because the party that got 7 percent was run by a bloke who didn’t like the other large party by way of alternative”.
From that starting point I’m not sure whether we’re supposed to connect the dots to the 2020 election, and Labour’s best result in the popular vote for a main party since 1951, or just ignore it altogether. Either way, Mike’s finding is that the self-evident shambolic management of the pandemic response can be contact traced back to politician zero, “a bloke” who ran a party that got 7 percent in 2017. That bloke would be Winston Peters, who Mike seems reluctant to name by name, as if Winston’s political DNA is part Voldemort, part Beetlejuice.
At this point in my reflection on the week it’s fair to point out that I’ve been reluctant to address the elephant in everyone’s room, the nuts and bolts of the pandemic response. When will Auckland’s border open? What are today’s case numbers? What’s the difference between alert levels and traffic lights? What are we doing to lift vaccination rates? And if we do, could our hospitals be overrun anyway? All important questions and there’s no shortage of hard news and opinions, both informed and less so, out there to engage with.
The challenge is that it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up that civic engagement. I find myself buying the occasional NZ Herald from the dairy and working into it from back to front. Often I don’t get any further in than Sudoku, Code-Cracker and WordWheel. More than a mild case of Covid fatigue I reckon. Televised briefings seem to be full of announcements about pending announcements, first questions to Tova and then on to Jessica, and I’m only concentrating on how the sign language interpreters cope with words like epidemiology, variants and modelling.
I did see the news that Duncan Garner has got Covid. He’s a nice bloke and I hope he recovers soon. His announcement points to the next phase of pandemic news coverage, just in time for summer – ‘Celebrity Covid’. My advice is to not spend summer at the beach reading about “My Covid Hell …”, that is if you’re allowed to get to the beach.
Have a peaceful weekend.