In this part of the world the influence of Hillary Clinton in the White House is seen as considerable. We are told that the British prime minister's wife, a " victimology" lawyer, and recently described as "ideologically rigid", carries a good deal of clout. With the help of an eighteenth century politician one may well ask the question in both cases; is there something behind the throne greater than the King himself?
In New Zealand, female power behind the throne has not been an issue in recent years, if ever. Our present prime minister is female, as was her predecessor. A prime minister here is not elected to that office by the people, but is selected to fill the position, from one of their number, by the political party holding power.
Feminist activists told us that our political situation was bad because men had too much influence. More women were needed in politics. Their maternal qualities would give a "softer" approach to the conduct of political business and that would usher in a brave new land of milk and honey. People seem to have believed them, because we now have many more women in politics, but still nowhere near enough according to the militant ones.
Experience to date shows that male politicians do not have a monopoly on disloyalty, lying and cheating, cursing and swearing and backstabbing. For example, both our female prime ministers took over the leadership of their respective parties by toppling the incumbent male leaders in well-planned coups. Then only the other day a socialist politician called one of her opponents a stupid bitch.
In the past there have been women who were denied equal opportunity for no better reason than they were female. This applied to politics as well as other fields of endeavor. Unfortunately, radical feminists, driven by Marxist ideology, took the moral high ground on the issue to advance their claim that women were victims of white patriarchial capitalism. Calls for equal opportunity were soon turned in to demands for special treatment, aggressively promoted by intolerant name-callers. And they added race to their agenda.
Many of these women were linked to New Zealand's socialist political parties and later became politicians. Like their male political counterparts, they, generally speaking, came from a narrow range of occupations such as university teaching, school teaching, trade union officialdom, government sector work, and grievance industry mischief. Many cut their political teeth in the arena of left-wing protest that was not always peaceful. Anti-American sentiment often surfaced. Wealth creation was not their lot.
The recently proclaimed Prime Minister, fifty year old Helen Clark, was a political science university lecturer and an activist in the socialist Labor Party before entering parliament in 1981. A look at her official biographical detail shows a narrow, negative life of politics. It's been protest movements, left-wing political activity, and attendance at overseas conferences of Socialist International and Socialist International Women. The winning of a Danish peace prize breaks the monotony.
However, you will not find in her biographical detail that she went to Nicaragua in 1986 to give support to the Marxist Sandanistas, whose army at the time had the support of the Cuban military. No mention is made that she was once the local secretary for the rather suspect international organization, Parliamentarians for Global Action.
Miss Clark was a member of a previous Labor government whose attitude towards nuclear ships made it impossible for the United States to continue the mutual defense arrangements that had existed for some years. The result, a diplomatic rift which, unfortunately, still exists. There was some evidence of a thaw, but that appears to have been put on hold after Clark's administration, on assuming office late last year, cancelled a jet fighter contract entered in to with the United States by the previous government.
Legislation has just been changed which gives the unions more power. This was the price to be paid for their help in her quest for power. At the end of debate on the legislation Miss Clark rapturously acknowledged the applause of the union bosses in the gallery while one of her coalition colleagues, in celebration, desecrated the parliament by singing the English communists' battle hymn, The Red Flag. Accident compensation insurance has been re-nationalized in another socialist move. Little wonder the government is perceived as anti-business.
New Zealand is, to all intents and purposes, an apartheid state. Miss Clark's coalition government is taking us further down this awful track by creating a separatist health system. When her political opponents rightly challenge this move she accuses them of playing the race card. This is a bit rich coming from someone who protested against apartheid in South Africa.
Miss Clark is a tough and ruthless woman. This is not surprising because she got to the top after years of experience in the cut throat environment of socialist politics, made up of radical feminism, unionism and the renta-demo mob. Now that her goal has been reached we see an even harder and hungrier woman, a control freak, heavily protected by a Svengali-like female chief-of-staff who watches the opinion polls like a hawk, in order to adjust to every move.
As the Clark government turns the clock back, and indulges in more social engineering, the gloom and doom increases, a fact not lost on overseas investors whose retreat from these shores is making the New Zealand dollar begin to look more like monopoly money.
Colin Robertson, a former officer of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, is a businessman and writer. He is working on a book on New Zealand’s race relations industry.