|THE SIEGE OF HELENGRAD||INVESTIGATE: Nov 03|
Love her or loathe her, no New Zealand Prime Minister has polarised the country this much since the 1970s. IAN WISHART pores over dusty archives and talks to Helen Clark’s inner sanctum to find out what’s driving her, and discovers a turbulent, troubled woman...
Mention the name “Helen Clark” to anyone, and usually there’s one of two reactions. On the Conservative right, that reaction is al-most always a tor-rent of hissing, muttering and under-the-breath abuse. And funnily enough, it’s always been that way, right back to the dawn of Helen Clark’s parliamentary career in the 1981 election campaign where she took the seat of Mt Albert.
“It was a difficult campaign,” Clark wrote in an essay for the book Head and Shoulders back in 1984. “As a single woman I was really hammered. I was accused of being a lesbian, of living in a commune, having friends who were Trotskyites and gays...
“ ‘If you elect Helen Clark’, my political opponents said, ‘your whole society will change overnight’...”
Coming up 20 years after making that confession, some would argue the Prime Minister’s recollection of the warnings given by her opponents has turned out to be highly prophetic.
Under the Clark leadership, a sweeping Labour party social engineering agenda is now well in train. Legalised prostitution, plans to outlaw smacking, the proposed decriminalisation of cannabis, and the contentious Care of Children Bill which aims to make gay and lesbian couples equal to traditional families, as well as making it easier for casual boyfriends/girlfriends of biological parents to be given “parental rights” over a child in defiance of objections from the other biological parent.
Little wonder, perhaps, that Helen Clark is the most adored and most reviled New Zealand Prime Minister since National’s Rob Muldoon lost power in 1984.
Midway through her Government’s second term, the gloss is beginning to dull on Labour’s up-to-now teflon facade, and normally meek political commentators are beginning to speculate on whether Labour’s dream run with the public is at an end.
So who is Helen Clark? What does she really stand for? The answers to those questions are also likely to provide clues about where the Prime Minister wants to take New Zealand.
Born in 1950 to farming par-ents, Clark re-ports she grew up in a home with “little spontaneous emotion”, with a “dominant” father and a “distant” mother. “I think I was equidistant from both my parents,” Clark told interviewer Virginia Myers for the book Head and Shoulders.
Dusting off the book for the first time in nearly two decades, Clark’s words leap off the pages, redolent with hints at what is right and wrong with Helen Clark.
“I was terribly shy, because of the lack of contact with other children. There were no others in the area and when I went to primary school I developed a lot of psychosomatic illnesses from having to mix with other kids.
“I had a very narrow social experience. There are still [as of 1984] whole slices of New Zealand I’ve never been in contact with and don’t feel at ease with. Like the business community. I’ve never had much to do with middle class urban New Zealand.”
Clark’s social phobias were aggravated when her parents sent her as a boarder to Epsom Girls Grammar. Clark claims she was made to feel like a country bumpkin amidst the fashion-conscious young things from Remuera and Epsom who formed the majority of the school’s roll.
A grim testimonial from the headmistress - remarking that Clark seemed adrift and without a sense of purpose in life - galvanised the young student and perhaps laid the path for the ruthless ambition that’s become Clark’s trademark.
“Quite a knocking testimonial. I really resented it and thought, I’ll prove her wrong. I think that’s characteristic of me. I developed great stubbornness as I went along.”
Another clue to Clark’s current agenda also emerges in the book.
“From the time I was 14 or 15, I began to have completely different and more liberal attitudes from my parents through living in Auckland, and my father and I argued a lot.
“My parents were inclined to be rigid on moral and social issues. For instance, I dropped [out of] church, and we clashed over that.”
Further rebellion against religion came when Mr & Mrs Clark’s eldest daughter point blank refused to play the organ in the local church anymore either - the final straw on a young camel’s back.
Flash forward to 2002, and Clark’s now infamous comment at the state banquet for the Queen that “New Zealand is now a secular country”, and grace would not be said at the meal.
Is Helen Clark’s Prime Ministership really just a Freudian working-out of long suppressed child-parent issues? If so, have New Zealanders become forced captive spectators and unwilling participants in a deeply personal “I’ll show them!” three-act tragedy? Have New Zealanders become victims of the most expensive psychotherapy programme in the Western world, where the patient on the couch gets to literally act out her fantasies using taxpayer cash and with absolute power? Psychologists examining Labour’s policy track after investigating the PM’s life story could possibly have a field day on that one.
There is certainly some evidence that Clark’s personal issues are manifesting themselves in Government legislation. Take this comment from the Myers book in 1984 on the virtue of marriage:
“I felt really compromised. I think legal marriage is unnecessary and I would not have formalised the relationship [with husband Peter Davis] except for going into Parliament. I have always railed against it privately.”
And as for a happy wedding day - forget it. Retired political studies lecturer Ruth Butterworth, a long time friend of Clark’s, is quoted in Brian Edwards PR-piece, Helen, remembering the black mood at the “wedding”.
“She was resistant up to the last minute. I mean, she was crying on the day. It was just so awful because it was so deeply against her principles.”
Little wonder perhaps that Labour under Clark rushed to implement the de-facto Property (Relationships) Act in 2001 giving effective marital status to any relationship, gay or straight, of three years’ duration or more. Wedding rights without the wedding.
The irony that a woman who hated being “forced” to marry then went on to forcibly “marry” thousands of people in de-facto relationships is lost on Clark.
That “waving the magic wand” approach to the exercise of power appears inbuilt with the Prime Minister, who confesses she sees herself as a big-picture decision-maker:
“With the decisions being made, I don’t want to be the one who implements them. I move onto the next thing. I like to see myself more as a decision-maker than as someone who works out the details.”
Ironic, then, that Clark once decried such a dictatorial style.
“I’ve never believed in the magic wand theory of political change,” she told the Dominion Sunday Times in 1987, “where your government came in and it somehow magically did everything you thought that it ought to. Life’s never been like that and it never will.”
Exposure in the late 1960s to burn-the bra, flower power, the drug culture and liberal sexual-ity was given sharper focus when Clark joined Auck-land University in 1968 at the height of the anti-Vietnam war protests.
The eighteen year old, wrote Clark years later, “seemed to drift naturally towards the political causes on campus, like the campaign against Omega foreign military bases. That was the first demonstration I went on and I really enjoyed it.”
In her third year at varsity, Clark found herself swept up in the anti-racism movement sparked by 1970’s All Black tour of South Africa.
“I thought a lot about racism and joined Trevor Richards’ Halt All Racist Tours committee. During those years I had a sense of finding my identity through being politicised.”
Her father joined the National Party and Clark claims he used to bail her up during visits back home “like a vulture preying on something”. Her relationship with her parents, she says, became more conflict-ridden as a result.
“My parents are racist in the way that many rural New Zealanders are racist. I consciously rejected them at that time and didn’t see much of them for some years.”
Whatever issues the young Helen Clark had with her parents, her father told jounalists in 1989 when Helen became Deputy Prime Minister that “political differences have never caused any sparks in the Clark family”.
George Clark, then 67, said he wasn’t impressed that the media had tagged his daughter as “dull and boring”.
“It simply isn’t the case - she’s led a varied and interesting life and anyone who talks to her will find out she’s far from boring,” he told the Herald. He did, however, suggest that his daughter still had some growing up to do:
“In my opinion, in life you should start off being a socialist and get more conservative as you get older.”
When asked if he expected the Deputy Prime Minister to follow that path, his response was blunt: “Everybody changes.”
Despite being a key player in the burgeoning student protest movement in the early 1970s, Clark “felt that I was beating my head against a brick wall. There was a certain gratuitous pressure in going out on large marches, but it wasn’t going to change Government policy.”
Flash forward to October 2003 and Helen Clark’s response to the news that 40,000 New Zealanders had taken to the streets calling her a “dictator” on the GM issue:
“I’ve been on larger marches than that.”
In another touch of Clark’s ivory tower worldview, she added that GM protestors weren’t listening to assurances from science that GM is safe:
"There's (a saying) 'none so deaf as those who do not want to hear'."
Little wonder then that a woman who quickly realised peaceful street marches were a waste of time when matched against the unbridled power of the New Zealand Government, now pays little attention herself to the will of the people.
Even so, the Prime Minister’s “arrogance” - as the protestors label it - stands in sharp contrast to her feelings when she was just a backbench Labour MP in the Lange Government:
“You can become very callous when you exercise power,” she wrote in Head and Shoulders in 1984, “and I have to check myself against that...In the end it’s how the person in the street feels about you and your efforts that counts.”
But what happens when you marry an “I know best” attitude to some of Helen Clark’s other personal baggage? One telling ingredient in the Clark mix appears to be an almost pathological dislike of men, as she illustrated in the book:
“I remember being greatly influenced by Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch when I was about 20.
“Men in particular lose control entirely. They scream and shout and are personally abusive. It’s really quite extraordinary. I never scream and shout, that’s not my nature.”
Clark then goes on to detail being bailed up one day at a party by a male colleague from her university days, complaining about what the Government was doing to the country.
“I finally flipped and said, ‘Don’t you f...ing well speak to me like that! If you knew how many bloody hours a day I worked and now I come to a party at midnight on a Saturday night and have a f...ing fool like you screaming at me about how hard you work!’.”
Helen Clark’s opinion of men can clearly be seen in the following 1984 disclosure.
“There are colleagues to whom I rarely speak, like Roger Douglas, and it’s mutual. What could we say to each other? There are years of very sharp differences of opinion.
“Roger’s very intense, and sexist.
“The team which promoted Lange to power is incredibly sexist and I don’t see any way that a woman could ever have got admission to it. People like Moore and Prebble can’t help appearing sexist. I think that’s been a lot of the problem for me.
“Part of my being overlooked for any office is because I belong to another faction in the party, but part of it is also that I’m a woman.
“I think they find most women terribly threatening...I suppress so much. I’m conscious of some of the putdowns and the sexism.
“Discussions around Parliament are entirely conducted in terms of ‘he’. The men say it’s a generic term, but I don’t accept that. Of course it’s a put-down!”
Another tell-tale pointer to the Prime Minister’s current apparent hostility towards the modern nuclear family can be seen in the way in which she regards mothers.
“I’ve never had any intention of having a child. I definitely see children as destroying my lifestyle. It’s inconceivable that I would become pregnant. I realise my attitude is unusual, but I have other interests which crowd out everything else, and I think I’d go around the bend if my small amount of spare time was taken up by children.
“I was able to develop as a professional person with no breaks in career...I wasn’t caught in the trap of the young bride who seems to stop maturing when her kids are born.”
Clark’s hatred of the idea of having children appears almost pathological, and again has worked its way out through her policy agenda. It was Helen Clark who introduced a 1989 law change making it possible for primary schoolgirls who get pregnant to obtain abortions without telling their parents.
When former National Party leader Bill English warned National would challenge the underage abortion provision in the Care of Children Bill, Clark’s response was terse:
“I’ve always believed that in the end it is a woman’s right, in line with her own conscience, to determine whether or not she has an abortion and you know that’s the view I will hold until I go to the grave.”
Perhaps her latent disdain for women with children, matched with Clark’s dislike of men generally, have played a role in the Thatcheresque style adopted by Clark.
“One sees men behaving very emotionally around here but they are never portrayed as being emotional. But if women are seen to be emotional they are almost written off as unable to do their job. That’s why you have got to toughen up.
“I do see myself as a strong person, with strong opinions. The main block to being a woman in Parliament is not being one of the boys; not being in the networks they operate.
“The women MPs tend to be personally quite friendly with each other, but we’re not running networks, we’re too busy.”
Quaintly, two days after first being elected to Parliament in 1981, Clark was asked whether NZ was ever likely to have a female prime minister.
“I can see a time when we will have a woman Prime Minister. But for it to happen without it being an ‘odd’ thing, we’ll need more women members. Many people in the electorate have said that Ann Hercus would make a wonderful Prime Minister.”
Flash forward to November 2003, and Prime Minister Clark has now assembled a network of very powerful women. Most of her key advisers - including long term aide Heather Simpson are female. Many are lesbian.
Her friend Margaret Wilson has been promoted to Attorney-General. Wilson, a law graduate, was there when Helen Clark was first elected to Parliament in 1981, as the Auckland Star noted at the time.
“On Sunday, while a former university colleague, law lecturer Margaret Wilson, fielded non-stop phone calls, the fledgling MP relaxed over coffee after her first official engagement.”
Dame Silvia Cartwright - an otherwise relatively undistinguished judge whose biggest claim to fame was the feminist cause-celebre heading the first Cervical Cancer Inquiry in 1988 - is now Governor-General. Cartwright boasts in her CV of her strong work on “womens issues” both in New Zealand and for the United Nations.
“Since 1993, she has been a member of the United Nations committee monitoring compliance with the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).”
Cartwright’s husband Peter is the Government appointee heading the powerful Broadcasting Standards Authority, which regulates what broadcasters are allowed to say, and he also serves on the Film and Literature Board of Review regulating censorship issues.
Sian Elias, who is by contrast recognised as a talented jurist independent of gender issues, rounds off the list after her appointment as Chief Justice. Elias is married to businessman Hugh Fletcher, and is a long time colleague of Margaret Wilson’s.
It’s been a long time coming, but Helen Clark’s 1970s vision of a socialist revolution is coming to pass as trusted friends take up network positions.
But what about Helen Clark’s much-vaunted globalist vision, her United Na-tions ties and ambitions? What about the Prime Minister’s international networks? Firstly, Clark is indeed a globalist, a fervent believer in the concept of an overarching world government. “The issues concerning and affecting the world’s working people range across and beyond national borders. They demand a transnational response and action,” Clark told an international conference of female trade unionists earlier this year.
In May this year, Investigate revealed that the Clark administration has been negotiating behind the scenes to see if New Zealand can be admitted to membership of the European Union. There is now discussion in diplomatic circles that Clark and Wilson are steering the country towards that goal, which would also require New Zealand surrendering some of its sovereignty and adopting the EU Constitution. Clark’s one world government ambitions are much closer to realisation now than they were when Labour swept to power in 1984.
Although she missed out on a Cabinet position in the first Lange term, Clark did manage to secure the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee - a prestige position for an anti-nuclear, anti-US activist. And naturally, paranoia set in.
“A Government MP known for her strong anti-nuclear stand claims ‘American sources’ have been spying on her,” reported the Auckland Star in 1986.
“Mt Albert’s Helen Clark says her long distance telephone calls are almost certaintly monitored by Americans.
“ ‘They have surveillance equipment to pick up long distance conversations and I believe mine would interest them’,” Clark was quoted as saying. “Sometimes I feel afraid.”
Apart from listening in to late night calls between Helen Clark and a mystery woman lawyer who Clark described as a close personal “confidante”, it’s unclear what significant intelligence the US would have gleaned from eavesdropping on Clark. Clearly, however, she didn’t want her personal life messing up her political ambitions.
“Ms Clark,” reported the Star, “said she has to lead a ‘squeaky clean’ personal life for fear of being the target of smear campaigns. A spokesman for the American Embassy in Wellington described Ms Clark’s claims as ‘incredible’.”
In Washington however, Investigate has learned, the future NZ Prime Minister’s nickname was “Red Helen”, a moniker earnt not just from her anti-nuclear stance but also her decision to support the communist Government in Nicaragua in 1986. The then Labour Party president, Margaret Wilson, was also chairing Labour’s Nicaragua Support Committee, and both she and Clark detoured to the communist nation to pick coffee beans in support of the regime, while en route to a meeting of the globalist group, Socialist International, in Peru.
Interestingly, for all the claims that the US policy in Nicaragua was “imperialism”, backhanded support for the US came from a communist politician from Cuba, Alejandro Herrera, during a recent visit to New Zealand.
“It’s not precise to say that it was the United States that triumphed in Nicaragua,” Herrera told a questioner in Auckland about why the communist revolution there had failed.
“In Nicaragua they lost support from the people. A revolution is made by the people, when the people abandon it the revolution dies. We have to study and read why the people abandoned it. The thing the United States did was to take advantage of the right moment.”
In other words, despite a continuing popular myth to the contrary in New Zealand, Cuba is tacitly admitting that the US intervention in Nicaragua was supported by the Nicaraguan people, and the US intervened at the point where Nicaraguans had had enough of the Sandinista regime.
In January 1987, Margaret Wilson visited Moscow in the company of Labour Party officials Tony & Alison Timms, and MP Fran Wilde. A New Zealand Herald report during the tour records Wilson as stressing “the importance of direct public contacts [between NZ and Soviet Russia], especially since the middle classes in New Zealand lack objective information and are heavily indoctrinated.”
Even more telling, perhaps, is a report by New Zealand journalist Bernard Moran which says:
“When Filipino Intelligence officers raided an underground safe house in Manila on the night of March 24, 1988, they not only captured leading hard liners of the Communist Party of the Philippines New Peoples’ Army, but also 97 computer discs.
“I have in my possession,” continues Moran, “a photocopy of a three-page document from one of those discs. It is headed ‘Workshop 1: Party to Party Relations, June 13, 1986’.
“It deals with overseas work and those who are in consultation with the International Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). On page three, line eight, Helen Clark is listed as the ‘individual link’ for New Zealand.”
Helen Clark’s membership of international socialist organisations stretches back to the 1970s and appears to continue to the present.
Clark appears in a photo (above) of the 1998 leadership of the so-called “Global Progress Commission” - a world government wing of Socialist International.
The Global Progress Commission’s mission statement - drafted with Helen as one of it’s international advisers - has much to say on the need for world government.
“Globalisation is an irreversible phenomenon of our time. We have entered a New Age based on the globilisation of the world economy, and the Left cannot approach this reality in a Spirit of rejection.
“Globalisation creates the possibility of opening up a new froniter of development, where old dogmas are no longer of any use.”
Among “fundamental questions” that the Global Progress Commission hopes to provide answers to: “What can be expected from coordinating economic policies or from a world economic government?
“We do not want nationalist, populist, bloated States...the social legitimation of political power involves the role of the State with regard to citizens’ welfare, educational opportunities, health, pensions and access to all the other social rights and public services - in short, social cohesion policies.”
The GPC fervently believes the State, exemplified by a powerful parliament operating beneath a collective world government organisation, offers the best solution for public welfare and human progress.
“Civil society without effective political institutions creates a void which gives opportunities to the demagogues who promise to exclude the intermediaries like the parliament...or to lay the groundwork for what is called a people’s democracy (or the saviour of a nation, which is even worse).
“Whenever the emotions of the people rock the ship of state, the political parties turn into a stabilising element and guarantor of [the State’s] continuity.”
It is, in effect, a not-so-secret society of international socialist leaders who each pledge to lend assistance and support to other members when their respective peasants get restless - assistance which even the Global Progress Commission admits is controversial.
“Because of our supporting political parties, we are accused of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Another organisation with similar objectives is Parliamentarians for Global Action, also a vehicle for Clark’s international aspirations. Labour MP and Deputy Speaker Ross Robertson is on the 15 member executive committee of the New York-based PGA, and Labour’s Harry Duynhoven also has an official role. The PGA was formerly known as Parliamentarians for Global Law.
But while Clark may have con-sidered herself “red” in tradi-tional socialist fashion, tradi-tional marxists like Waikato’s Philip Ferguson reckon Labour is a whiter shade of pale pink. “The Labour Party in NZ is now the party of capitalist modernisation,” Ferguson posted in a marxist newsgroup last year.
“This is why it pursues a fairly neo-liberal economic lie, combined with political correctness and ‘respect for difference’ as its ideology. It ‘modernises’ NZ by incorporating it more in the world economy, arguing for free trade and so on, while removing old, non-market barriers to discrimination in NZ (eg liberalising laws on homosexuality, being very politically correct in relation to race and so on) and thus tying into it a layer of career-women feminists and Maori, while working class women and working class Maori continue to languish at the bottom, oppressed not by formal discrimination but by the free play of the market.
“Thus when [commentator Paul]Harris talks of Labour being a coalition of unionists, feminists, Maori and progressive capitalists, this is one thing he is largely correct on. (He’s mistaken when he throws in the poor and also not to mention that the Maori he is talking about are middle class).
“But what is significant about this coalition, is that it is overwhelmingly middle and upper class. The Labour feminists are all people like former governor-general Cath Tizard, current attorney-general Margaret Wilson, academics like Helen Clark, lawyers like Lianne Dalziel, etc etc etc. The Labour Maori big names are business managers. The Labour gay and transgender MPs are all solidly middle class as well.
“Indeed, it’s interesting to see where someone like Helen Clark hangs out. Last week she was on the catwalk at the Wearable Art Awards, dressed up in some silly creation.
“Some other week, she is hanging out with the film industry set. Another week she is off mountain-climbing in Japan. Another week, she’s making a wildlife doco in Canada. People like her are part of the artsy fartsy ‘creative industry’ set, and that’s where they hang out. They have no organic connection at all to the working class.
“The largely parasitic artsy fartsy brigade (and the eejits who teach labour studies in universities) love Helen because she is the liberal middle class personified. She is them. There is not the faintest whiff of anything proletarian off her and her coterie atop the Labour Party.”
Daphna Whitmore - another leading New Zealand marxist writing in their newsletter, The Spark, last year, is also scathing of the Clark/Wilson power axis.
“What is there to distinguish Margaret Wilson and Helen Clark from any pro-imperialist leaders? Take their stance while at a social democratic convention in Peru in 1986. While the conference was on, over 300 political prisoners and prisoners of war were massacred. Clark and Wilson were the New Zealand Labour Party delegates. This gathering of Labour parties from around the world praised the social democratic president, Alan Garcia, for his ‘handling of the situation’.”
It is one of Helen Clark’s political strengths that she knows to hide when the going gets tough. The PM makes a determined effort not to engage in any sphere that could inflict damage, which is why TV3 felt justified ambushing her over the Corngate GE scandal.
Clues to Clark’s approach again emerge in her 1984 writings where she says:
“I think I deal with conflict reasonably well now. And I’m smarter at handling pressure. I won’t engage if I don’t feel like it.”
Clark says she goes so far as not to listen to answerphone messages at night in case one of them is abusive or negative and “I’ll lie awake thinking about it.”
“When I get an abusive letter I fire it in the bin. I won’t lose any sleep over it. I try to put a private area around myself, a cordon sanitaire, so that I have some space between myself and what’s going on.”
In charge of Clark’s cordon sanitaire now are personal assistance Heather Simpson and media adviser Mike Munro, one of the few men close to Clark. Simpson is widely regarded as the “eminence grise” behind Helen, others prefer to call her the PM’s trusted eyes and ears.
It is this team that screens all media and political flak, carefully ensuring that the Prime Minister is isolated from anything negative. The PM’s team have a list of journalists who they “trust” will ask the Prime Minister only soft questions, while other journalists are blacklisted, regarded as too “dangerous” to be allowed near the PM for interviews.
In almost every case, where you see or hear the Prime Minister being interviewed on television or radio in any extended fashion, those interviews are only done with tame journalists.
Likewise, when hard questions are being asked in Parliament’s debating chamber, the Prime Minister is often noticeable by her absence.
All of this, a carefully stage-managed almost Presidential governmental style, has contributed to the Prime Minister’s dream run in the opinion polls, and her reputation as a leader “clearly in control”.
The late Revenue Minister, Trevor de Cleene, who served in the Lange administration above Clark hinted at his protege’s “power of one” mentality.
“One cannot be a supreme individual,” he remarked wryly in 1987, after noting that Clark had reined herself in enough to become a Cabinet team player. But clearly the words “team” and “Clark” are not synonymous: sixteen years after de Cleene’s comments, Clark is no longer just one among many, she arguably is the Labour Government. No longer confined by the constraints of more senior colleagues, Clark is slowly bringing long repressed plans to fruition.
Again, Clark foreshadowed the existence of her own hidden agenda way back in that 1984 book:
“If anything, I hold my views more strongly than ever, now,” she wrote. “But it makes me more cautious, more inhibited. I’ve learned survival skills.”
And those survival skills clearly included learning to keep her mouth shut, as a 1987 Auckland Star report noted:
“Clark, who says earlier remarks were taken out of context and sensationalised, now says she sees no problems remaining faithful to the rule of collective responsibility, which stops her from publicly criticising Cabinet decisions.
“ ‘I think that when you accept a role of working within any institution, as I have, you accept that you are not a free agent,’ she says. ‘I accept the constraints as the price of working within the system’.”
Although Clark has, on occasion, tried to pass off the comments she made in 1984 as “taken out of context”, she nonetheless told interviewer Karren Beanland - herself a former Labour Government press secretary - in 1987 that she still stood by “that interview”.
But by 1987, having gained her toehold in Cabinet at last, Helen Clark was wasting no time getting her networks going.
“She is still suspicious enough of existing Parliamentary power groups,” wrote Beanland, “to have surrounded herself by her own people as Ministerial support staff. Labour activist and feminist Sandi Beattie is one.”
“My thinking,” said Clark at the time, “is that it is important for Ministers to have independent staff, people who are independent of the department and in a position to offer advice from a different perspective. I am not going to fall into the Yes Minister syndrome.”
The Dominion Sunday Times also deduced some serious networking was underway as early as 1987.
“She works within the structures of the Party, building support and influence...the pattern of quietly and deliberately building an organisation around her can already be seen.”
Back in 2000, just after Labour took power, journalist Bernard Moran foreshadowed some of what New Zealand was likely to see from the new Labour Government.
“Amending the Education Act to make sex education compulsory and remove parental rights to withdraw children from such classes. This is a follow on from the new health curriculum introduced this year, which affirms homosexuality and fails to address marriage in a substantial or positive way.
“In 1989, Helen Clark successfully introduced an amendment enabling female minors to have abortions with full confidentiality and without parental consent. In 1990, she achieved the repeal of the law forbidding access and instruction in contraceptives to under 16s.”
Moran also suspected at the time that legalisation of prostitution was on the cards, a prediction finally realised earlier this year.
Labour - now firmly in command of film and television standards, has also taken direct control of TVNZ with a series of liberal ap-pointees to senior positions and a charter that reflects Labour party values. The Prime Minister herself publicly called on TVNZ last year to screen its gay and lesbian lifestyle show, Queer Nation, in a more popular timeslot. Or, as the Herald put it at the time:
“The Prime Minister also criticised TVNZ for putting the gay show Queer Nation on too late at night and hoped its new charter would enhance the visibility of gay people.”
Unsurprisingly, one of those senior appointees to TVNZ is himself bisexual and at the centre of a yet-to-break sex scandal involving a married male staff member.
“Good grief!,” exclaimed one opposition MP last month, “is there anyone this government has appointed to public positions who isn’t gay?”
Yet the issue is not so much the sexuality of the appointees - which is their own business, but the networks they are part of, the power they now hold, their liberal permissive anti-family worldview and the politics of gender they bring to their jobs.
Liberals, some of them originally appointed to public positions under the Lange administration and - thanks to Labour’s State Sector Act - subsequently untouchable, quietly set about building their own networks during the National years in the 1990s in preparation for Labour’s eventual re-election in 1999. One network now being built is headed by gay Chief Film Censor Bill Hastings. His deputy, appointed a year ago, is also gay. In a country where homosexuality accounts for 3 people out of every 200, the top censorship roles have fallen - well against the odds - to two people who, by definition and their own admission, are liberal and gay.
“Of course being openly gay attracts more than its share of battles,” Hastings told a gay website this year, “but I view these battles as opportunities to demonstrate in public that intolerance, fundamentalism and bigotry will never win in the long run.”
Take a look at primetime TVNZ these days, and you’ll find gay and lesbian themes feature strongly: Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Shortland Street, At Home With The Braithwaites, V Graham Norton, and Six Feet Under to name a few. While no one would deny the entertainment value in many of the shows, watching TVNZ you would assume homosexuality was running at around 30% of the community based on airtime, not 1.5%. State-ordered brainwashing?
The extent of Labour’s control over state agencies and the way they think can be illustrated by this item from an Act party newsletter last December.
“Instead of having the Holmes Christmas show this year it was decided to have the Finn brothers and a Split Enz 30 year reunion. The Letter has been asked why only Labour MPs were in the audience. Answer: The Finn brothers are Labour supporters and the Holmes show agreed that only Labour politicians be invited. Thought: if politicians issued an instruction to the Holmes show we would be outraged, yet state TV meekly allows its guests to issue political instructions. Is this an example of the Charter TV that Marion Hobbs said we needed?”
TVNZ CEO Ian Fraser was himself a key PR adviser to the Lange Labour administration, during his time as a director of Consultus Public Relations during the 1980s.
Act is equally scathing of Labour’s takeover of the justice system.
“In cabinet Margaret Wilson has a paper to replace the present Deputy Commissioners on the Environment Court with her own political appointees. The Deputy Commissioners are appointed for five years and work with the Court to assist the judges.
“The Letter understands that the officials had recommended that most, if not all, the Deputy Commissioners be reappointed. But that does not fit with Margaret Wilson’s plan to reshape the courts to her radical agenda.
“What sort of people will Wilson appoint? She has already appointed as a Deputy Commissioner a former Alliance candidate. Another appointment is a former Christchurch Labour city councillor who is costing the Court a fortune, as he cannot hear cases in Canterbury for conflict of interest reasons. Let’s remember Joris de Bres was Margaret Wilson’s personal choice, as was Ella Henry (the Human Rights Commissioner who thinks traffic tickets are issued because she is Maori), and triple-dipper Susan Bathgate.
“Margaret Wilson in her “academic” writing has opined that the reason NZ has not become a true socialist state is because the left has not replaced the “capitalist” legal structures. To achieve her vision of an Aotearoa Socialist Republic with the Treaty of Waitangi as the constitution, courts must be restructured and what better way than to replace the “colonial” Privy Council with a NZ Supreme Court – one where she and Helen Clark pick the judges.
“Margaret Wilson has already announced that Labour’s choice of Chief Justice will be on the court. Labour’s Sir Geoffrey Palmer will help choose the judges. One must be versed in Tikanga Maori. Her axing of the members of the industrial relations tribunal shows Margaret Wilson’s contempt for a non-political court. Tribunal members were fired so that Margaret Wilson could put in her choices.”
So what about Helen Clark herself? What do her friends think of her? One person who’s known Helen Clark most of her life has seen the changes in their friend, changes that come with the trappings of power. “Helen got into politics with a deep sense of doing good, and she was happy to be working toward’s Labour’s common goals,” the Prime Minister’s long time colleague explains. “She didn’t have high aspirations as such. But sometime in the late 80s someone told her that her aspirations should be much higher - that naughty word ‘ambition’ changes everything, and it changed Helen.
“One of the fascinating things about her is the Jekyll and Hide way she compartentalises her private and public lives. In private, Helen Clark is as honest and straight a person as you could meet. She has absolutely high integrity on an interpersonal basis. She is very loyal to those she cares about, whether they are friends or just constituents in need. I’ve seen Helen do incredible things for people and they’ve never even known.
“But on the other side of the coin, plug in the public politician and it’s like flicking a switch. In her political persona she gets as dirty and dishonest as the best of them. She is ruthless and will spare nothing to get what she wants, politically.
“You can see some of that manifesting now in the sense that her Prime Ministership has become almost dictatorial, almost paranoiac, she is so convinced that her path is the right one and the only one..so obsessed with making sure her plans are secure and cannot be derailed by anyone. She is absolutely driven in the changes she wants to make in our society, and nothing is going to stop her.”
Clark’s friends also want to clarify persistent rumours that the Prime Minister is actively gay.
“For some people a physical relationship is very important. For Helen Clark, it isn’t. Helen sacrificed a number of things in return for her ambition to achieve high office, and as part of that she has made a conscious decision to live an absolutely squeaky-clean private life where no one can pop up out of the woodwork and kiss and tell. She may have desires, but they’re not acted upon.
“And let me say this. Helen and Peter love each other very very deeply. They are deeply committed to each other’s happiness, and I would say that they are probably closer than most other married couples. They have and enjoy a very, very strong friendship. Let me repeat the point: they are very, very good friends.”
Which could, of itself, again provide a Freudian explanation for Helen Clark’s otherwise inexplicable mission to make gay and lesbian relationships mainstream in the eyes of society and the law: here is a Prime Minister whose own preferences were strongly forbidden when she first entered politics, forced to marry a man for the sake of ‘keeping up appearances’ and avoiding the kind of political smear campaign that befell two prominent Labour MPs in the 1970s, nursing a deep personal hurt at being “cornered” by society and forced to conform.
Little wonder then that Helen Clark apologised out of nowhere to the homosexual community in the gay newspaper Express last year:
“I would offer my personal apology now on behalf of the Government. It’s been disgraceful, of course it has. People have put up with the most appalling discrimination, stereotyping, people have been criminalised. Of course it is dreadful,” she said, adding that speculation about her own life had been hurtful.
“But I actually have great faith in the common sense of Kiwis and I think these days most people are going to say ‘For God’s sake, people are entitled to choice about their life, Helen’s made her choice, that’s fine with us’.”
And it would be, if the Prime Minister wasn’t also choosing to use her power and position to force major social change on other New Zealanders, ostensibly to right the wrongs she suffered in her own personal life. By embarking on a very liberal social agenda, the Prime Minister has brought her own background into the equation, given that it now appears to be the driving force behind Labour’s policy push.
The enigma of Helen Clark may finally have been solved - a troubled child of the 60s who now has the power to address the perceived wrongs of her youth. The sickly, bookish archetypal nerd who now has the ability to kick sand in everyone else’s faces. Forced to go to church, brought up in a family with strict morals, forced to marry when she didn’t believe in it, made to feel a criminal for her sexuality.
Now in her 50s, surrounded by a clique of like-minded individuals, Helen Clark is ramming through legislation to disestablish the bourgeois society she detests.
At least now we know why.
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