Well, I think I can safely say I've had a Helluva week. Making international headlines, for almost all the wrong reasons (although being quoted by the Venezuelan government was kinda nice). Finding out who was likely responsible on this very blog. Witnessing a large chunk of my life's work thus far officially declared not to exist. Being defended by David Farrar and Pete George.
It's all gone pretty interesting.
First up, I'd like to say thank you and acknowledge the absolute *legion-strength* chorus of support and solidarity that's thundered my way from *across* the political spectrum these last seven days (including Bomber, who's been awesome). I truly was not expecting this when news of my arrest and court case broke ... and I truly am so incredibly and indescribably grateful for same that I can't even begin to put it appropriately into words. (although I gave it a shot)
But that's not why I'm writing this piece.
For you see, in amongst the knee-deep-if-not-neck-high streams and torrents of positive sentiment I presently find myself wading if not outright canoeing through ... there were some darker, jeering elements.
Credit where credit's due, there are some Young Nats and others on the right wing of politics who have written in - whether publicly or privately - to express their sympathies for my position.
But they have, understandably, not all been so kind.
One persistent theme in all this raging banter, variously phrased, has been a string of questions which basically boil down to "When are you going to be resigning from NZ First", often accompanied by a none-too-subtle suggestion that I ought to attempt to shack up with the Greens.
Now, no disrespect to the verdant half of my tango-of-tactical-voting in the #BlackGreen2017 dream ... but this will not be happening.
Unless I am forcibly Clause 9'd out of NZF by the Party ... I shall not be leaving New Zealand First.
Please, no jokes about the grass being greener on the other side.
The reasons for this are quite simple.
I have absolutely no reason to do so. Even in light of what has happened and what's been said and/or leaked about me.
I am still ABSOLUTELY ROCK SOLID in my faith and conviction (ahem) that New Zealand First represents the very best Party in both Parliament and Opposition for an expression of my views and our national wellbeing.
Barring some seriously major policy announcements which may have happened over the intervening week while my attention's been elsewhere ... they have not, to my knowledge, changed one iota what they - and we - ultimately stand for.
So when it comes to changing my Party allegiance - why would I?
What could POSSIBLY have all these Young Nats aflutter and brimming with suggestions presumably intended to be in my presupposed welfare that I might like to switch horses before the race has even approached its final stretch?
Well, applying one of the few resources that the average Young Nat doesn't have at their fingertips or summonable via the conveniences of Daddy's credit card - i.e. Empathy - it's not hard to see why they're baffled by my decision to stay. And not just because of my abiding belief that when a Young Nat tells you something's a bright idea, then is often (but not always) the time to do exactly the opposite - and with extreme prejudice.
You see, the reason most Young Nats are part of their parent party's youth wing is very simple. It's about self-interest. Whether in terms of making connections that will see them looked after in later life, looking to influence policy in order to benefit them personally, or most cravenly ... attempting to climb the greasy pole and advance up the cursus honorum into eventual high office; many Young Nats (and not a few Young Labourites, into the bargain) are actively engaged in their patch of politics for reasons that could charitably be described as being less than altruistic.
The reasons I got involved in NZ First, by contrast, are the exact and diametric opposites of that.
When I joined up back in 2009, with the possible exception of Winston there *was* nobody to network with - and certainly not anyone of any benefit outside the political sphere. I'm justifiably proud and honoured with many of the connections I've made since then thanks to NZ First and NZ First Youth ... but for the most part those only happened because I - We - built them up ourselves. Often from the ground up and with very little in the way of outside (or even internal) assistance. I make no bones about the fact that a young man such as myself would do very much better in a New Zealand First governed NZ - but then, we pretty much ALL would. And that's because an enlightened, #Nationalist approach to the economy benefits all Kiwis - not because lowering tax rates for upper income earners helps any social class I come from (it doesn't); or being a Young National looks good when applying for a job at certain law firms.
I've also known, ever since I was turned down in my application for candidacy last year in 2014 (ostensibly due to my mental health issues ... which were pretty bad even *pre* hospitalization), that it was patently unlikely that I would ever be allowed to become an NZ First MP.
In light of what's happened, it now seems that it will be virtually impossible.
And yet, you didn't see any outward decline in my ardour nor zeal in attempting to campaign for NZ First at the last Election in light of this. Perhaps more strikingly - even though I was subjected to a blatantly unconstitutional Kangaroo Court Clause 9 complaint process disciplinary action against my Membership of the Party back in January for the absolutely heinous crime of saying "fuck" in a posting on my own personal facebook page ... you CERTAINLY didn't see any let-up in my ongoing efforts to get you all to join me in Putting New Zealand First.
In fact, if anything, I went all the harder for the Party in consequence and response.
Because at the end of the day (and, for that matter, at the beginning, morning tea, afternoon and night of the same 24 hour period) ... I have always deeply believed that we do not get involved politics for petty, personal reasons of avarice and self-advancement.
We choose to put our heads above the parapet and loudly proclaim what we believe in - even if we must do it from the sidelines, if not the sin-bin - precisely because we believe in making a contribution to something far greater than ourselves. In whatever capacity we can.
That's why I got into politics back when I was but a young socialist revolutionary with neither nuance nor neatness to my views.
And that's why the remarks printed on Peter Cresswell's appropriately named Not PC blog that I was "[one who had identified] the rotting carcass of a party with a regular turnover of
It also behooves me to point out that at the time I joined up, NZ First wasn't even *in* Parliament - and the received wisdom from just about everybody (including, no doubt, the Peter Cresswells of this world) was that we *wouldn't* be getting back into the House in the first place. Hardly, you might think, the ideal place for a young craven careerist as he's made me out to be to set up shop and pitch tent. But certainly, I would argue, the ideal first-and-last-stand position for one who has chosen "the path of principle, choosing a party that matches his values and fighting across the length of his career to put them into practice", instead.
A lesser-known drug-using politician by the name of John F. Kennedy was once of the opinion that the essence of political service was not asking "what your country can do for you" - but rather "what you can do for your country".
As applies political policy, my answer, to a certain extent, has always been a bit of "why not both?" - as surely the rising tide of successful governance must lift all boats in the national flotilla, including making a prosperous society that the enactors and mobilizers of such policy can, themselves, benefit from being a part of.
But as applies political parties - and our place, as activists, within them - my answer has always been very, very different.
We are not here, in political parties or other vehicles, to be asking the question "what can our Party do for us".
It is well, right, and good that our political "families" (for such, they truly are) appropriately look after their errant tribesmen - particularly in situations such as mine; and I thank each and every NZ First member and MP who has deigned to check in on my welfare.
But it is NOT right to, as so many Young Nats and others have done, blithely assume that the best and greatest thing about being in a political party (or, hell, setting up a Youth Wing for one - even if this now, sadly, seems unappreciated) ... is the very real chance or peril that you'll some day rise through the ranks to become an elected official upon their behalf.
That's not what politics is about. That's merely political office-seeking. And should be outright discouraged.
As I said in my public statement about my resignation from NZ First's Board of Directors back in June, "Our mission, here in politics, is bigger than each of us and any of us."
And that, I guess, even more so than the other glorious line I came up with about how my "heart is still Black; and the linings remain – as ever – Silver", is why I shall be remaining NZ First unless and until they Clause 9 my membership out from under me.
Because my support for New Zealand First is ultimately not about me. It's about New Zealand.
And what we - whether as individuals, or as constituent parts of political parties - can do to "work as if you lived in the early days of a better Nation". (a phrase I've always liked that adorns the walls of the Scottish Parliament)
It remains to be seen how best I can continue to make that contribution in service of both my Party and my People. Suggestions and assistance toward that end shall be gratefully accepted.
As far as the rest of my political career goes ... I closed my resignation letter by noting that "The Age of Ares is Over". It had become something of a quiet private refrain for me ever since the day of my arrest, when things first went *seriously* topsy-turvy in my world.
But politics, as Chancellor von Bismarck mused, is the art of possibility; and it was presumably in this spirit that one of my more ardent supporters coined the hashtag #TheAgeOfAresIsNeverOver.
In that, I would have to agree.
The Age of Ares is not over. In fact, it's only just beginning ;)
Let's move forward into it. Together.