Monday, August 15, 2005

Goodbye Mr Lange

The outpouring of national feeling following the death of David Lange has been extraordinary.

Despite leading New Zealand through a tumultuous, controversial period, Lange's abilities to distill and communicate a message, to make us laugh, and to make us feel proud to be New Zealanders, seem to have earned a measure of affection and respect from New Zealanders across the political spectrum.

There will be plenty of time in the coming years to analysis the impact of the fourth Labour government that he led, but at the moment I think that it is appropriate to focus on the qualities of Lange the man.

Last night on National Radio I heard for the first time, his whole address to the Oxford Union in which he makes a moral case against nuclear weapons. While we often hear that famous quip in which he admonishes his American opponent by saying "I can smell the uranium on (your breath)", the full address shows that Lange was so much more than a funny fat man with endless one liners. The full address is a masterful critique of the peverse philosphy of nuclear weapons which led at that time to the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) standoff. Lange presents the case with passion, conviction, and a command of the language that only the truly gifted possess. If I find an audio clip of it I will post it here.

It was obvious that David Lange suffered a great deal in his later years, yet never did he use his postition to garner public sympathy or profile. Such was his modesty and aversion to privileged treatment that we have heard so much about since his passing.

May he rest in peace.


Too Right said...

Nice post Michael.

Insolent Prick said...

You missed the point, Michael, as you often do. In doing so, you're proving the point that standing for political office is no insurance against being a dipshit.

Lange lead New Zealand through much-needed, and world-leading economic reforms. Economic reforms which have underpinned New Zealand's long run of economic success over the last fourteen years.

Except he pulled the plug on going further, when he needed to. He didn't have the guts to carry things through to their natural conclusion.

Interestingly, as much as Helen Clark and the rest of the Labour Party try to distance themselves from Roger Douglas, they have not changed a SINGLE economic reform he brought through.

Why? Because it works, Michael. Your brand of socialism doesn't.

michael wood said...

One of the things that I have been impressed with in the days following David Lange's death has been the dignified way that people from all across the political spectrum have behaved with dignity and avoided trying to score cheap political points.

I guess that's not your style IP.