Monday, August 10, 2009

Helen Clark's Failures and Weaknesses

Now that her valedictory speech is done and dusted, I thought it was timely to do my own review of Clark’s years at the top. This is not going to be based on whether or not I agreed with her policies, but on how successful she was at advancing her agenda, and managing Government etc.

  • Never quite got the vision thing. The closest she came was her speech about how NZ should aspire to be the first carbon neutral country on Earth. People will vote for leadership and vision, even if it is not one they 100% agree with – Howard got re-elected despite majority opposition to Iraq War, because people respected him for doing what he believed was right. The one time she did get visionary, she never backed it up with substance – her record on carbon emissions being one of the worst in the world.
  • A certain meanness of spirit. Her description of Don Brash as cancerous and corrosive. Her “haters and wreckers” description of foreshore and seabed protesters. I could go on.
  • Loyalty above talent. Clark kept Tizard as a Minister for nine years. Even Hawkins lasted for six years. Samuels was twice made a Minister. While talented MPs such as Tim Barnett and Charles Chauvel were kept out.
  • Over time she confused criticism of her Government and her, with criticism of New Zealand. Not the only PM to do this.
  • A near total inability to say sorry and apologise.
  • The culture of Helengrad – where civil servants, board members etc were all afraid to give dissenting views.
  • Treatment of the Greens – took them for granted, and locked them out of Government three times.
  • Ethical lapses – lying about Peter Doone to force him out of office, Paintergate and the associated coverup etc. More worrying is seemingly unaware did anything wrong.
  • Maori Party – did not even try to negotiate an agreement with in 2005, calling them last cab off the rank. A strategic blunder that had long term consequences.
  • A tendency to blame others and distance herself. There is no way she did not know what Mike Williams was up to in Australia, yet puts him out to hang. Another example is when she let her DPS drivers get prosecuted for getting her to the rugby on time. Pretended she never even noticed the speed of 180 km/hr. Would have got huge kudos if she had fronted and said “I’m horrified that my drivers are being prosecuted for just doing their job”. Many Police never forgave her for not sticking up for them.
  • Failed to rejuvenate in time. The 2008 list rejuvenation should have happened in 2005, and the 2007 Cabinet reshuffle in 2005.
  • Seriously lost her judgement in third term on numerous issues – almost every decision forced out of her at a stage when too late to stop harm – Benson-Pope sacking, pledge card paying back, anti smacking law compromise. Let these drag on for months more than they should have.
  • Electoral Finance Act – need more be said. Will always stain her record.
  • Winston – despite massive evidence that Winston had lied numerous time, she would take no real action. Her decision to have Labour vote against the Privileges Committee report was a disgrace.


Matthew said...

This is quite a misleading post in itself, in that it has deliberately omitted the section relating to Helen Clark's perceived strengths. I think this blog is a terrific idea, but if you want to promote openness and transparency please start it here.

(N.B. In the declaration on this Kiwiblogger's site, it says he is from the New Zealand National Party, which directly opposes the Labour Party which Helen Clark comes from -

Go figure said...

Also note that Ian Wishart is considered a loon in New Zealand. Once a semi-respected investigative journo, he is now known for being a creationist hater of anything left of Genghis Khan. Half of everything he writes is made up, but if you don't know the subject well, you wouldn't know which half.

This is not to defend Helen, who did some bad things as PM for sure, but don't look for truth from either Wishart or Kiwiblog.

Anonymous said...

Or random blog posters either.

Only the far-left (which infestt NZ's Media-Education complex) consider Wishart to be a 'loon'. His 'investigate' magazine gets consistantly high readership figures.

His website is here:

Clark was the worst PM NZ has ever been inflicted with.