Blue smoke

datePosted on 09:31, September 16th, 2010 by Lew

In my previous post on the Canterbury Earthquake Response & Recovery Act (CERRA) I lamented the conspicuous absence of outrage in response to the bill’s provisions from partisans on the right. I have since been heartened by the responses from some of the more principled commentators on the right; well done them.

But there is one most conspicuous exception. I have on many occasions in the past defended Kiwiblog’s David Farrar from allegations that he’s a bog-standard Tory authoritarian. Yes, he’s a loyal partisan; yes, he does have his authoritarian tendencies, but his typical policy alignment is clearly classical-liberal. He is is consistently more liberal than almost all of his fellow-travellers and has regularly exhibited a forthright commitment to democratic principles of the rule of law, of good constitutional practice and the importance of checks and balances. Even yesterday’s response conveyed lukewarm concern about the scope and extent of the act. But I take back all that defence of David’s character; and so, apparently, does David take back his commitment to those liberal principles.

Because this morning’s post on the CERRA is nothing short of cringing, snivelling partisan apologia for dictatorship dressed up as a simplistic classical history lesson. Dictatorship, it appears, is a-ok with David just as long as the dictator wears the right coloured tie. Where now are the lofty appeals to the principles of good governance, the shrieking about attacks on the nation’s constitutional integrity, the billboards bearing the endorsements of dictators? There are plenty around, including a very explicit homage to the Free Speech Coalition campaign which David fronted, but nothing from this erstwhile and self-proclaimed champion of democracy himself.

The fact that DPF is being schooled on both the principled and pragmatic problems with this bill by some of the more wide-eyed and reactionary members of his commentariat suggests that he has taken leave of his political instincts as well as his principles; for instance, the notorious ‘burt’, who urges him to consider what might happen if (due to the collapse of ACT) National fails to win the 2011 election and a Labour minister takes over from Brownlee; a possibility he and the government had either not anticipated or don’t believe was worth considering. Nothing would be sweeter irony, but either way: David’s credibilty on these matters is up in a cloud of Tory-blue smoke; a legacy destroyed by unprincipled partisan loyalty. Such is the price of political dependence.

Update: Similar sentiments from Peter Cresswell, Danyl Mclauchlan and The Standard, from whom I purloined the image.)

Another update: More angels required to dance on DPF’s pinhead.

L

3 Responses to “Blue smoke”

  1. Emma on September 16th, 2010 at 11:36

    That Gerry Brownlee effectively manages CHCH now gives me great concern. I am patiently waiting for EQC to tell me and my family if our 3 homes are ok, need major work or need pulling down. I am not ok with the idea that Gerry can tell me I should not rush things in case it damages the neighbours property values…. What does he think huge cracks, mud pools and tilted properties do for the neighbours values?!! and this is now the man in charge……………………

  2. Hugh on September 16th, 2010 at 11:41

    Emma

    What makes you think Brownlee’s powers are limited to ChCh? Nothing in the recently passed legislation limits his powers to Christchurch, or even Canterbury.

    Still given his personal preferences on the subject, and the National party’s program, it is very unlikely they will be using their new powers to prevent property owners from making modifications to their property as you fear. Quite the opposite in fact. I think the current Act was designed with the interests of multiple homeowners chiefly concerned with property values firmly in mind.

  3. Jeremy Harris on September 17th, 2010 at 20:49

    I’ve created a facebook group about this issue, all welcome:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=140135796031103

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