Last Tuesday week a non-descript politics lecturer Chris Wilson joined in the nonsense being written about the pressure on Jacinda through social media abuse and death threats. Specifically, he claimed in the Herald it was massively higher than other prominent political figures copped.
That’s hardly surprising. So too given she was Prime Minister was her profile, equally massive when compared with other major political figures. More significant, when the dust has finally cleared, her government will be recorded as the most incompetent in the post-war years and given its actions have hurt numerous New Zealanders, the antagonism is understandable albeit that doesn’t excuse abuse and threats.
Wilson might also note that correspondingly the virtual “Second Coming” praise Jacinda copped, led by the sycophantic print media she’d bought off with tax-payer money, was unprecedented.
Finally, Jacinda herself said the abuse and threats had no effect on her retirement decision and I believe her. I do so as I’d picked her retirement on the date she announced it, on this site, back in 2021. Her behaviour last year bore that prediction out with seemingly non-stop indulgent last hurrah joy-riding international travelling with teams of colleagues at our expense.
Jacinda had been an MP for eleven years without making a mark then a series of improbable events flushed her from obscurity into the PM’s office and subsequently the international lime-light, all beginning with Winston’s shock enthroning her, motivated by revenge against the Nats.
Jacinda is a level-headed individual. She knew the adulation was ridiculous and said so to the Guardian two years back, saying she lay awake at night suffering from imposter syndrome, once the absurd Joan of Arc Jacindamania rubbish began.
There was an irony to the obscure Wilson’s comments last Tuesday for that very night in a re-run underway of the delightful “Yes Minister” series, the episode shown, nigh on 45 years old, dealt hilariously with the new Minister’s panic on copping his first anonymous death threat. It goes with the territory for anyone prominent, and not just in politics, but it’s why top politicians are always accompanied by security officers, and always have been. Mike Hosking has copped heaps and as we know, some of his death threat culprits have been traced and duly prosecuted. But for obvious reasons, mostly finding the cowardly fleas is near impossible.
They were a regular event for me in the New Zealand Party heyday but then of course in letter form. However, as I received a minimum 50 strangers’ letters daily, mostly supportive, I ignored them until one day my eldest daughter found out, threw a tantrum and demanded I give the letters to her. Then off she went to the Police, kicked up a fuss and made them investigate and amazingly they were able to trace two of them.
Both were elderly losers. Once located in the then near slum inner city Newtown was mixing me up with Brierley. The other, another elderly failure in a Palmerston North boarding house became a quivering wreck once confronted. I waived a formal complaint, thus no prosecution.
On that note it’s worth recounting a British incident I wrote about some time ago on this blog.
A prominent and popular British footballer, like so many successful sportsmen before him, decided he wanted to try his hand at boxing, God knows why. We’ve experienced it here with Jesse Ryder, Monty Betham, Sonny Bill Williams and others. Anyway, he was duly nursed along with easy televised undercard bouts against no-hopers but once he started an anonymous social media coward began a ridiculously excessive campaign of hurtful abuse.
Then a friend of the footballer who was a computer geek, riled about this, set about tracing the culprit which he duly did. The upshot was hilarious.
With an army of reporters and a BBC television squad they accompanied the boxer to the culprit’s Council house. The footballer knocked on the door, the coward opened it and immediately fell to his knees sobbing for forgiveness. It was a wonderful and well-deserved public humiliation when it was shown on television.
That aside, we have our share of brain-dead nutters which is why as I said, targets like the Prime Minister have always been accompanied by a security detail. Rob Muldoon alone kicked up a fuss about this and banned them, notwithstanding he being a regular receiver of such threats.
Older readers will recall the back-bench, then virtually unknown National MP Dail Jones. In the late 1970s, a nutter, upset by a minor wrongful traffic fine, turned up at Dail’s office and stabbed him, missing his heart by an inch. It was the best thing ever to happen to Dail as he freely admitted, for overnight he became a celebrity figure, much in demand for speeches.