The “Childish Brutality” Of The National Party


IF YOU’RE THINKING that, lately, something strange has happened to the National Party, then, clearly, you don’t know the Nats! Just read the following passage from Bill Sutch’s incomparable history, The Quest For Security In New Zealand 1840 to 1966:

“The naïve, the almost childish brutality, with which the chiefs of the National Party fell upon power [in 1949] may seem quite surprising,” wrote Dr J. C. Beaglehole in 1961, “until one remembers how famished for power they were, and with what an innocency of experience they faced the world about them … One does not mean that Mr Holland and his subordinates (lieutenants? – most of them looked like subordinates) went down personally to Government Buildings and kicked the bodies of public servants. Some of them were obviously not as bad as their leader … Yet the insensitiveness to administrative delicacies, the conviction that all you had to do to make the pound go ‘further’ was to take your hand off it, that the main thing needed in education was to insult the Education Department, was quite appalling.”

They were equally famished in 2008 when, after nine insufferable years of Labour-led Government under Helen Clark, they once again “fell upon power” like hungry wolves. At a function I attended in the weeks after the 2008 election I found myself seated at the same table as one of National’s newly-elected MPs. When it comes to politicians, I am not easily astonished, but when I heard the stock response this person gave to polite questions about the new National-led government I was utterly flabbergasted.

“I really don’t give a fuck!”

Now, I suppose we should give this novice MP some credit for their honesty. Because there is very little room for doubt that they were speaking truthfully. They really didn’t give a fuck about policy, or the concerns of well-informed members of the public, or the criticisms of journalists, or the accusations of their political opponents. It was written all over this appalling person’s face: “We have the power now and you don’t. We can do whatever we like and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

TDB Recommends

And that’s it. That’s all you really need to know about the people who stand for the National Party and are duly returned by electorates where not giving a fuck about people unlike themselves is so ingrained that a novice MP could voice their prejudices without the slightest sign of embarrassment. (A year or two later, having learned the wisdom of guarding their tongue in the presence of strangers, this same MP had the good grace to at least look deeply uncomfortable when they were introduced to me a second time.)

People who are unaware of the “childish brutality” of the typical National Party politician have expressed dismay at the behaviour of the party’s latest leader, Judith Collins. They wince at the delight she so obviously takes in the language of intimidation, domination, humiliation and – let’s face it – violence. Political leaders are supposed to reject such crudity in favour of a more measured and responsible tone.

Collins would laugh at such naivety. Was National’s first Prime Minister – the Sid Holland anathematised by Dr Beaglehole – measured and responsible? Was the pugnacious Rob Muldoon?

What passes for ideological debate in the National Party consists mainly of arguments about the extent to which the “childish brutality” of its members and voters should be hidden from the wider New Zealand electorate. The “liberal” wing of the party insists that crudity and brutality rapidly wears out its electoral welcome. Rather than turn to the Hollands, Muldoons and Jenny Shipleys, National is always better advised to turn to the Keith Holyoakes, Jim Bolgers and John Keys. “But why?” demand the party’s conservatives. “The people we represent don’t give a fuck if we are crude or brutal. In fact, they rather expect it!”

Collins’s approach to politics strongly suggests that she has more sympathy with the conservatives’ view than the liberals’. Which is not to say that when asked to vote on conscience issues such as capital punishment and abortion, National leaders like Muldoon and Collins aren’t willing to line up with their more measured and responsible colleagues.

These votes do not, however, prevent them from talking, as Collins does, about “crushing” their Labour opponents. Nor did Muldoon’s vote in favour of abolishing capital punishment prevent him from telling the huge audiences who turned out to hear him put the boot into the 1972-75 Labour Government that he had “seen the shivers running all over [Labour PM’s] Bill Rowlings’ body, looking for a spine to crawl up!”

Crude, but effective.

The same, sadly, applies to “Merv’s” intervention in National’s 2020 Auckland Central candidate selection. Newshub has alleged that this pseudonymous caller of late-night talkback shows is in fact a regional representative of the National Party with a bee in his bonnet about Nuwi Samarakone, the Sri Lankan-born party activist apparently favoured by the party hierarchy. “Merv’s” contribution followed the circulation, by a person, or persons, unknown, of a photograph of Ms Samarakone (a former ballet dancer) posing for the camera in leotards. Astonishingly, that was all it took to make sure that, at least as far as its three leading contenders are concerned, the Auckland Central contest will be an all-white affair. Childish brutality indeed!

In the 1960s, my late uncle, ministered to the deeply conservative Presbyterian parish of Tuapeka Mouth in rural South Otago. It is difficult to imagine a more stringent test of Christian forbearance. The locals must have found his liberal theological views as testing of their patience as the Tuapeka Mouth congregation’s unabashed Calvinist prejudices tested his charity. The experience did, however, equip him to offer me, years later, this pithy summation of the Good Lord’s handiwork: “Humanity”, he vouchsafed, “is neither wholly corrupt, nor wholly irredeemable.”

That Labour’s massive lead over the Opposition is composed, in large part, of voters who have crossed over from the right-hand to the left-hand side of the electoral street, would appear to bear out my uncle’s charitable assessment.

Accepting, of course, that you consider the Nats to be human!


  1. Entertaining and informative, Chris.

    Throughout the records history, and by way of archeological evidence, we can ascertain that almost always within any population of humans there is minority that behave with selfishness and greed (as per Richards Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theory:

    Provided cheating and lying and stealing remains a minority trait within the population, the population can sustain itself. If cheating and lying become the norm, the society rapidly disintegrates (as per Selfish Gene theory).

    In modern times, the normally aberrant group [of liars, sociopaths and greed merchants] have gained ascendancy, and control much of ‘the system’, with utterly dire consequences for the vast majority. Indeed, such is the state of the world as a consequence of the ascendancy of the sociopaths -as represented by Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, The Bushes, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Tony B Liar, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro etc., and in NZ, the National Party- that EVERYONE, including the sociopaths themselves, suffers. And the suffering will get much, much worse, as the Earth overheats further, as resources become increasingly difficult to obtain, and as pollution levels burgeon.

    That said, sociopaths possess a remarkable capacity to lie to themselves as well as lie to everyone else, and justify their aberrant behaviour in the own minds with outlandish pretexts, such as that they do what they do -cheat, lie, steal, manipulate- is for the benefit of the community.

    Sadly, sociopaths infiltrated the labour movement and got their snouts into the public feeding trough in the 1980s, and a lot of them, or their acolytes, now direct public policy.

    Such is the power of the propaganda the sociopaths generate that in the past they used professional liars (advertisers) to convinced the masses that smoking was sophisticated, that eating white bread (with most of the nutrients removed) was healthy, that eating large amounts of sugar was healthy, that drinking huge quantities of alcohol demonstrated manliness, that processed cows milk was better for babies than breast milk, that working for the slave master for decades was a recipe for wealth and happiness.

    The cleverest aspect of the mind-control systems the sociopaths use is to convince gullible people to vote for their own enslavement. This is usually done on the basis of blatant lies, such as those appearing on National Party billboards…a whole lot of bullshit that has worked over and over again for decades -a “better, brighter future” and all that. They have convinced large swathes of the populace that, as Orwell put it, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.

    The epitome of war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength was G.W. Bush, until Obama came along. And now, with Trump it has got to the Monty Python stage of absurdity.

    Needless to say, the corporate media parrot National Party nonsense, usually without question, resulting in the National Party off-the-planet ranting reaching the Monty Python level of absurdity.

    Undoubtedly, even as the entire system collapses as a consequence of industrialism and as a consequence of widespread deceit, ‘true blue’ defenders of dysfunction will be at it on TDB, declaring that the only way forward for NZ is to have the most pathological of the political candidates, i.e. National and ACT, in power [to lead off the cliff faster]. Of course, being sociopaths themselves, they can’t help themselves and resist efforts of others to help them.

    Interesting times.

    • There were a few crucial things I missed in my quickly-composed comment.

      Additional to the previously noted absurd notions that National and other pathological political parties have convinced the general populace to believe in, are:

      1. That destroying the environment, both locally and globally, is a good thing, and that further destruction of the environment in order to keep the consumer economy staggering on just a little longer the economy takes precedence over everything else.

      2. That planetary overheating is not caused by excessive use of fossil fuels, and that the problem is of such a minor nature we can continue loading the atmosphere and the oceans with CO2 and not suffer anything more than minor inconvenience.

      2. That there is no such thing as peak oil, and that oil will appear as required, irrespective of what oil geologists say.

      3. That financial bubbles, property bubbles and and share market bubbles are not bubbles at all but are all indications of ‘sound economic management’.

      4. That humans are masters of this planet and can overcome any ‘setback’ nature might throw at us.

    • Th PR industry are a bunch of mind benders selling ideas to the public in a manner scientifically authored and deceptively presented but with incredible power to influence.
      Readers who are not familiar with this industry (employed by National) should spend a bit of time educating and protecting yourself from their weapons by watching these videos.
      You will also learn some shocking history created by the corruption of public will.

  2. “The people we represent don’t give a fuck if we are crude or brutal. In fact, they rather expect it!”
    From what I’ve seen in and around the Naki’, the Natzo supporters laugh and make jokes about “their” parties bullying and childishly brutal behavior. It’s in our smoko room daily, the same old, white, male wankers make misogynistic comments about Jacinda Ardern all the time. And yet during our last Covid lockdown, these same arseholes were fearfull and fell silent. Typical behaviour of the insecure. Sad sad people. National play to these self centred, insecure, greedy dickheads. No doubt it boosts there polling when this nasty politicking is around. It appears to “rally the troops”. But it won’t work, low 30’s if they’re lucky.

  3. Like or lump it.
    This could be a game breaker – in favour of Collins.

    Shutting down Wellsford for a South Auckland issue?
    Even north of the bridge – aint gonna go down well.

    Small business – cafes in particular – resentment will flow to labour.

    Rational or irrational?
    Human behaviour.

  4. Should I point out the lefts and certain authors failings not giving a fuck about people not like them, especially rural people and their way of life? I recall being informed that urban people were inherently more virtuous and rural red necks (with guns!! )were coming to get us under lockdown.

    I tire of the partisan “bash the opposition” from both sides and especially the deification of Jacinda Ardern which elicits full foaming internet bullying if anyone dares question her.
    Open both eyes, question the whole lying lot of them.

    • Rural folks do not have the time or the inclination to travel to urban areas to scare urban liberal twats with firearms ( illegal anyway) or anything else. ( Maybe a ute load of possum carcasses!)If we really are that bored ( unlikely) we just wait for the next holiday break when urban idiots venture out of their concrete jungle, then we take advantage. So easy . So commonplace. Been going on for generations.Pays to remember where the food on your plate comes from and who produces it.

      • Market gardens are my preference, and especially spray free.
        Dairy needs a meltdown back into grains and root crops.

    • I recall this website moaning about the Nats writing nasty things about other people, and yet we have it asking if National supporters are even human.

  5. Brilliantly and eloquently written Chris. All the nastiness and thuggery of today’s Tories you mention was exposed six years (and more) ago by Nicky Hager in Dirty Politics. But even the charmless but measured John Key couldn’t help but heaping the vitriol on Hager, personally insulting him.

    I voted National in my early days but I will never vote for them again. And Labour are really just neo-libs too, in red clothing, but nicer. That’s why I’ll be voting Green for the third consecutive election. The only party with bold policies and principled, educated members.

    • So you are not a Green knocker. Congratulation. Using intelligence in a way that the younger generation understand.

  6. Both the left and the right claim to serve citizens. Only the left serves citizens, the right serve themselves. The right purports to serve citizens by giving more to themselves so that they can give to others. It is not hard to see how this view of the world or of the economy suits the right. The problem the right have in this respect is there’s nothing they do that is seen as of direct benefit to citizens. There MO assumes an indirect passing on of resources via a wealthy group, who happen to be the right. The right, therefore, need something else they can point to to convince citizens they are the best group for the job. These extra things that the right requires to do this are ‘issues’ or ‘problems’ that they can say they’re going to fix. Things like crime and those “dependent on the state”. The right needs these ‘problems’ so they can create the illusion they’re doing something for citizens because there’s nothing else they do do. Quite apart from the fact such ‘problems’ are the result of a failure to serve citizens directly in the first place, the right do not in fact want the problems solved, either. Solving the problems means they’ll be left with nothing to be able to say they’re doing or will do. There’ll be nothing to fix. So the right not only does nothing for citizens, it needs problems for its own survival. The right is like the emperor without clothes. The sooner most people reaslise this the better.

  7. Muldoon seems o have been the last of the keynesians. I remember him touring the world desperately trying to obtain support for a new “Bretton Woods”. The only support he obtained was France’s Mitterand.
    Incidently, his quip about a shadow looking for a spine was actually a plagiarism from a speech from a British MP. I don’t remember whose unfortunately.

  8. Childish is one way of describing this lot but thanks Chris for reminding us that they don’t give a f…k something many of us are well aware of, hence the current polling.

  9. Excellent article and such a perfect way to sum up Collins, Jabba the Hutt Brownthing, and the National Party in general. The “childish brutality”phrase is perfect.

  10. Not just about National falling on power, but also having to give it up.
    It was common knowledge that when Labour won the 1984 election, Muldoon has deliberately exacerbated a foreign exchange crisis for no other reason than to cause as much trouble as possible for the incoming government.
    When National are forced to give up power, they literally have to be dragged out kicking and screaming.

  11. All the anti National sentiment here, starting with Chris’s article can be put to bed when the Labour and or it’s coalition wins the election which is their’s to loose. If what Chris suggests is right, and National People are by nature the ruthless uncaring arseholes as they have been described here, why is it they spend large amounts of time in opposition. It’s their ability to put all their kind socially minded policies into action successfully. Clark managed it but others have failed. Some of that could be attributed to reigning in greedy business which doesn’t really work because if the country doesn’t make money neither does any Government. Sad but true. If this Government is re elected via Covid, they will be judged not on kindness or social policy but their ability to keep the masses housed, working and making money. The reality is if they can’t achieve that they will be history in twelve months. Just my opinion of course.

  12. The seawater of conspiracy theory suffuses through the Right these days. Sean whatshisname, once a RNZ morning host, sent off a Labour guy on talkback today with the epithet, ‘Communist’.

    At a bible class, my idiot (b.a.) sister told me today, half the people thought the govt was trying to put it over people. On this occasion I implore the ‘Lord’.

    When has a cause ever not needed positive push for it rather than negotiating incoming waves like the 84 Left. As we now see it’s the only way. Or Fascism will invade the freshwater inlets.

  13. These are the things the left claims to do but the outcome is the opposite – more homeless, more people on welfare, capital flight and a bloated bureaucracy. The current government is a classic example of such.

    The winners when the Left are in charge are their union heavy mates and favoured academic ‘luvvies’ who get to sit in ‘working groups’ at $500 an hour. You know the type – brown shoes and a piece of bone hanging round their neck. 🙂

    The problem with the Left is that they want to dictate to everyone how to live their lives, but since the vast majority on the Left have little experience in anything of use, they generally force the population to do the wrong thing. The 20th century is littered with examples. It is an authoritarian creed lead by the well-meaning but clueless.

  14. Well said Chris.
    Of late I have come to the conclusion that the National MPs(past and present)are like Empty Vessels.
    That is they lack Compassion, Caring and Empathy. What is in their stead is arrogance, ego and a complete hatred of those they deem the ‘enemy’ whether that enemy be an MP sitting across from them or a lowly low income NZ worker.
    I have already decided upon whom I will be voting for at the next election and no amount of negative comments by the dysfunctional MPs will change my mind.

  15. This article just appeared to me on Facebook. Algorythm. The good thing was the 500 comments indicating a wider readership. Very glad for it — Chris,’ t’Cause’ and NZ.

Comments are closed.