Indeed, the PM is showing no signs of shedding the Hollow Woman tag any time yet if her appearance on Breakfast this morning was any indication. Dissing National's plan to increase borrowing by two percentage points to fund infrastructure development, she then made references to Finance Ministers of days gone by, comparing National's plans to these hated enemies of Labour - Sir Robert Muldoon, Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson.
What? Let's back the truck up here - Sir Roger Douglas? LABOUR's crusading, reforming Finance Minister from 1984 to 1988? Yes. Once again, Helen Clark is trying to distance herself from Sir Roger, and from Rogernomics.
But of course, she can't. Helen Clark was elected to Cabinet after the 1987 election, and served alongside Douglas, Richard Prebble, Trevor de Cleene and all the others. She was Minister of Conservation and Minister of Housing. Also a member of that Labour Cabinet was Dr Michael Bassett who had this to say in a newspaper column after the government blocked the sale of Auckland International Airport shares to the Candian pension plan (my emphasis added):
"Michael Cullen, Phil Goff and Helen Clark were ministers in the Fourth Labour Government between 1984 and 1990. I was one of their colleagues. In order to rescue the debt-burdened country we had inherited we sold several key assets and paid the money off against debt, thus leaving the government with a smaller interest bill each year. That meant more was available for public investment in health and education. Cullen, Goff, Clark and I voted to sell an unbundled, publicly-owned Telecom at a huge price, much more than we expected to get at the time. Americans were the principal buyers. Helen Clark was then Deputy Prime Minister. She and the rest of us also voted for the establishment of airport companies from the publicly-owned airfields. We all knew at the time that what the Labour government was doing was correct, and in the best long-term interests of the country. We made those decisions in election year, consciously knowing that not everyone agreed. Once upon a time, Cullen Clark and Goff possessed guts and were driven by principles; they were capable of making the correct decision, not pandering to the views of those who couldn’t come to grips with what was in the country’s best interests."
Dr Bassett is no longer a friend of the Labour Party. However, he is probably New Zealand's best-known polticial historian, having sat at the Cabinet table at a time of unrivalled political change.
Helen Clark may wish that she could rewrite history. She cannot. And Keeping Stock will do its best to see that history is not rewritten, and that the public of New Zealand knows the truth about Labour's Hollow Woman.