Former New Zealand Prime Minister and ex-World Trade Organisation boss Mike Moore, who now enjoys the dubious honor of being a regular New Zealand Herald political columnist, has plumbed the depths of political hypocrisy with an article in praise of "political dissent".
Moore's mendacious rhetorical method is revealed in his opening paragraphs in which he suggests "We Social Democrats trace our history of dissent back through the centuries as we wrung concessions out of the powerful and privileged. ... The Magna Carta, the glorious revolution in Britain...the Levellers, Chartists... are our ancestors.."
By this sleight of the pen Moore endeavours to appropriate to himself and his odious cause all the most noble political endeavours of the past millennium. Stirring stuff, until one shifts focus from such as the Magna Carta, the Levellers and the Chartists, to the actual political history of Mike Moore himself, and those of his ilk in the New Zealand Labour Party. The reality is that there is nothing in the recent history of the Labour Party, and nothing at all in the history of Mike Moore, which invites any serious comparison with the dissident heroes whose name and deeds he presumes to invoke in his own cause.
It is true enough, as Moore says, that "(Labour MP) Paddy Webb ... lost his civil rights because of his opposition to conscription during World War 1" but what Moore carefully conceals from his readers is that by the time of the Second World War a Labour government was imprisoning scores of our people for exactly the same "offence" against the New Zealand state.
He goes on to say that "Teachers had to swear oaths of allegiance to weed out those who might have undesirable political opinions" while neglecting to say that it was the Labour government which fired en masse all those school teachers who refused to give unconditional allegiance to the British crown. The late Bruce Jesson was one of many who refused allegiance, sacrificing his liberty and his career to do so. But Mike Moore himself never dissented from the odious requirement for a declaration of allegiance to the British crown. On the contrary the same Mike Moore who now portrays himself as the champion of dissent, was one of those who chose to either willingly or cravenly pledge allegiance.
Moore then goes on to disingenuously claim "We (the Labour Party) didn't close down dissent" Neither they did. But it was not for lack of trying. For example it was the Labour Party Mayor of the Far North District who refused citizenship to a Swiss immigrant with the words "If you won't swear allegiance to the Queen, you can't be a New Zealander". This was in the nineteen nineties, mind, not the eighteen nineties, and after Mike Moore had spent six years in government, six years in which he had every opportunity to remove the prohibitions and restrictions on principled dissent which still apply at every level of the New Zealand state, and six years in which he did absolutely nothing of the sort.
Moore also seeks to take credit for the "splendid dissent during the anti-Vietnam (sic) struggle". Even if this claim had any validity, it would beg the question of why, if Labour was once so staunchly anti-imperialist, it now supports the Anglo-American re-occupation of Afghanistan. But the reality is that the Labour Party never took a principled stand on the Vietnam war at the time, and does not to this day. The real leaders and rank and file of the struggle against the Vietnam war will, instead, remember a Labour government which decreed that they should remain locked up in the regime's prisons until they had seen out their sentences for "failing to report for military service" in support of the Vietnam war effort, and that it is a Labour government which now constantly seeks to appease those who were guilty of the most heinous war crimes in Vietnam.
Mike Moore's "Constitutional Review", courtesy of the proprietors of
the "New Zealand Herald", is nothing more than twenty four column inches
of blatant dishonesty and astounding hypocrisy. Moore is an
apologist for a colonial-imperial regime that has throughout its history
attempted to maintain social control by imprisoning political dissidents,
destroying their careers, and denying them access to the means of mass
communication. Clearly the only freedom that Mike Moore
truly believes in, and the freedom which he has latterly so vigorously
exercised through the pages of the "New Zealand Herald", is the freedom
of the big lie.