Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Sir Robert Muldoon Center For Time-Warp Research

Every so often here in NZF Youth, something momentously cool happens.

Last week, for instance, several of us were privileged to be sitting in The House watching our MPs giving their Maiden Speeches.

To commemorate the moment I whipped out my copy of Sir Robert Muldoon's "The New Zealand Economy, A Personal View", and got our entire caucus (with the unfortunate exception of Denis O'Rourke) to sign it.

I'd been reading it on the plane down, and had been struck once again by the book's qualities as a repository for what "Old New Zealand" and a National Party better described as "Nationalist" rather than "InterNational" meant.

Where else would you find a National leader proclaiming the strong enthusiasm of the Kiwi people for trade unions; or expressing his distaste for letting theoretical economists run rampant and wild with the direction of our economy.

So many lessons, so many reflections on what we used to be and what we could have been.

It called to mind a quotation of Reagan's; who, upon being asked why he'd left the Democrats and joined the Republicans (not many of you knew he began political life as a Democrat, did you :P ) stated, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party; the party left me."

So too, New Zealand First and the Muldoonist party of old; with National leaving behind our ambition to Think Big and to Dream Even Bigger in order to trust in the abacus-tweaking, ivory-tower-endorsing, grand-economic-revolutionizing 'promises' of Rogernomics and Ruthanasia (with the end result, might I add, of "OurYouthInAsia"). 

With this in mind, this book and these signatures symbolize for me not so much a return for New Zealand to the values of the 1970s - how could we, and why should we. Rather, it symbolizes a return to Parliament of some of the Muldoonist values. A hard-headed pragmatism, a fiercely combative style that calls fools to account from across the political spectrum; a compassionate Nationalism; a recognition that "the whole concept of Government is based on Intervention"; and most important of all, a driving conviction that "economic management is not a matter of textbooks and algebraic equations. It is people".

I should thus like to end on that sage economic advice coded into Sir Rob's role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show; "It's just a jump to the left ... and then a step to the right",  and with the indelible hope that we can indeed do the time-warp again.

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