Gordon Campbell on the Coronation

King image smallerFinally, the imperial sound of one hand clapping. Saturday night NZ time, Charles III will be officially sworn in as King and as our head of state

Commonwealth leaders will pledge their allegiance, even those hailing from countries that would much rather be rid of the whole silly, expensive business. Yet still the monarchy endures, mainly because the alternative – a recycled politician in the top job – seems almost as bad, and without the horse drawn coaches and the regal bling.

Politicians keep saying that a republic is inevitable, but no moves are being made to usher this alleged sure thing into existence. Instead, even the centre-left likes of PM Chris Hipkins has been gushing this week about the quality of the sausage rolls fed to him at the Palace.

For his part, Grant Robertson has been floating the idea that New Zealand should consider spending hundreds of millions of dollars on hosting the Commonwealth Games – a get-together for the victims of British colonial rule that will remain a widely mocked fixture on the international sporting calendar, until someone remembers to put it out of its misery.

Meanwhile, we are being offered King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Since coronations are all about succession, perhaps we can amuse ourselves on Saturday night by deciding which members of the Royal Family most closely resemble the Roy family.

Clearly, Queen Elizabeth II combined the workaholic competence of Gerri Kellman with the maternal warmth of Caroline Roy, while her husband had the irascible, fuck-up-the children genius of Logan Roy. Charles seems to combine the resentful diffidence of Connor Roy with the occasionally manic “I’ll show them” wilfulness of Kendall Roy.

Alas, Andrew has none of Roman Roy’s wit and capacity for empathy, but he does have Cousin Greg’s eye for the main chance, and Andrew would slot right in alongside the Disgusting Brothers on any night out on the town. Is Camilla the closest thing we have to Shiv? There’s certainly a weird Shiv/Tom dynamic to her relationship with Charles.

Or like Lukas Matsson, is Camilla really mounting a contemptuous take-over of the whole regal enterprise? When set against the splendour of the Abbey and the rituals of the past, the Windsors really do look like a tribute band.

Footnote: If you’re into this sort of thing, you can read here about the parade of coronation night costume changes, as Charles will swap the crimson Robe of State for the golden Supetunica and the Imperial Mantle. Flunkeys will be handing him the jewelled Sword of Offering and the bracelets of Sincerity and Wisdom. There will be copious anointings, various sceptres and orbs and something called the Seat of Scone. All of that will happen even before you get to the actual crowning.

Bishop, Checkmated

Excellent piece in Spinoff by Hayden Donnell in which he relentlessly fact checked the truthiness of Chris Bishop’s claim that an un-named charity working with the homeless had told Bishop that National needed to bring back ‘no cause’ evictions because, you know, that would be so good for tenants.

According to Bishop the return of “no cause” evictions (they were scrapped in 2020) would encourage landlords to “take a chance” on tenants. Until that is, they didn’t. According to National, it would be a bracingly good thing for every renter to make their access to shelter hinge entirely upon the whims of their landlords.

Since Bishop has refused to reveal his mysterious charity source, Donell rang up any number of charities and people working on rent issues and with the homeless. They all confirmed that no way were they Bishop’s source, and that he was wrong. Or is using Quinovic as his source. Or is just making shit up.

Next week: anonymous students tell Chris Bishop that they want National to scrap interest-free student loans while they’re still studying.

Jumping Ship

Meka Whaitiri’s resignation from Labour looks more petty and opportunistic by the hour. As Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis indicated a few days ago, if her formal letter to the Speaker had been couched in the same unequivocal language she used when announcing her defection – i.e. “I have officially notified the Speaker that I have resigned from the New Zealand Labour Party and have joined Te Pāti Māori” – she would have been out of a job, judging by the wording of section 55B of the Electoral Act.

But she didn’t, apparently. Geddis, again:

Instead it appears she only told the Speaker, ‘I’m not going to vote with Labour anymore and I want to sit somewhere else in the chamber. The Speaker has made the determination that isn’t enough to meet the requirements under the legislation..”

Meaning: If you frame your words to the Speaker carefully and continue to vote (most of the time) with the same political bloc in Parliament, then the clear intention of the waka jumping provisions can be frustrated.

As things stand, Whaitiri will remain an MP. Weirdly, she will be an independent MP under the Standing Orders rules that govern the conduct of the House, while – simultaneously – remaining a Labour MP under the terms of the Electoral Act.

To rub salt in the wound, Whaitiri will be allocated parliamentary questions as an independent MP, but these will be deducted from Labour’s quota. Yikes.

Whaitiri’s case has little in common with that of Tariana Turia. Turia left Labour on principle over the foreshore and seabed issue. That rift was so deep she could later partner up with a National-led government, although that decision did end up almost destroying Te Pāti Māori.

Whaitiri can point to no comparable principle that motivated her decision to abandon the party under whose banner she won her seat in Parliament and was appointed to her lucrative ministerial post.

Whaitiri has said she felt she was “in shackles” within Labour. Golden shackles that she endured for several years while being paid $250,000 annually, plus perks – before she jumped ship on the brink of this year’s election campaign. Not a lot of gratitude has been in evidence, right down to the lack of prior notice given to her former colleagues, and her radio silence since she went public with her defection.

Plainly, Labour does not want to be seen by Māori voters to be bullying Whaitiri, and thus giving her victim status six months out from the election. So… Labour has gritted its teeth and agreed to her departure. As for the Speaker, this reading of the Electoral Act would carry more weight with the public if – as has often been mooted – the Speaker’s role was carried out by someone formally independent, and not by a member of a political party that will inevitably have skin in the game.

Finally, you’d think Te Pāti Māori would have no option but to stand with Labour and the Greens, post-election. Yet with chancers like Whaitiri now on board, never say never.

Moving on

The banjo prodigy Nora Brown is now seventeen years old. Her rendition of the 18th century Wesleyan hymn “ And Am I Born To Die” demonstrates just how timeless the old mountain music can be. Brown made this recording as part of a tribute to Doc Watson, on the centenary of his birth: –

Since the Succession series is very much about winning Dad’s approval… Here’s a song from Indigo De Souza’s new album that expresses her fury that her father’s love and approval was not only conditional, but absent altogether.