Down and out in Remuera
Ansell had planned to use a public meeting at the Remmers Rotary Club on Monday night to test support for a political party that would fight the next general election on a platform of opposition to 'Maori racism'. Ansell thinks that abominations like the Waitangi Tribunal, Maori seats, and the Maori Language Act are making New Zealand an 'apartheid state', and he believes, on the basis of a series of rather mysterious opinion polls, that four-fifths of Kiwis, including many Maori, agree with him.
But the distinguished members of the Remuera Rotary Club don't appear to belong to John Ansell's silent majority. After initially agreeing to host Monday night's meeting, the Rotarians have gotten cold feet, and have put out a statement distancing themselves from Ansell's politics. Ansell is now casting about rather desperately for an alternative venue for his political launch. I'm guessing that he won't be sounding out the Otara Community Centre.
Ansell's inability to find a reliable host in Auckland's most conservative suburb symbolises the decline of his political fortunes. During the 2005 general election campaign he designed a series of high-profile billboards which played on Pakeha fears about Maori nationalist politics, and helped Don Brash lead the National Party to within a whisker of victory. When Brash seized the leadership of the Act Party a few months before last year's election Ansell was at his side, making excited predictions about a forty percent rise in Act's vote and designing a new series of anti-Maori ads. But Brash's campaign was a disaster, as Ansell's broadsides against 'Maorification' provoked scorn and derision even inside Act.
Dismissing Act as a band of 'white cowards', Ansell formed an outfit of his own called the Coastal Coalition to protest against alleged Maori plans to seize New Zealand's beaches. Despite some hard-hitting billboards funded by Louis Crimp, the dendrophilic Invercargill businessman unhappy at Act's insufficiently firm line on Maori 'savages', the Coastal Coalition failed to collect anywhere near enough signatures to force a referendum on its pet topic.
Ansell's new campaign, which he has given the imaginative name Treatygate, has once again been funded generously by Louis Crimp, but appears to be attracting even less support than the Coastal Coalition's quixotic crusade. Even long-time critics of the Treaty of Waitangi like the libertarian blogger and politician Peter Cresswell have distanced themselves from Ansell, criticising his wild generalisations about Maori and his predilection for conspiracy theory. If Ansell does manage to scrape together enough supporters to form a new political party, it is likely to compete with Social Crediters and pot smokers for the wooden spoon at the 2014 general election.
Although some of Ansell's problems come from the inherent silliness of the arguments he retails - a silliness which I tried to outline in this post - he seems also to have become trapped in a sort of vicious circle. As he has gone from campaign to campaign, losing followers and finding it harder and harder to win sympathetic coverage from the media, Ansell has come to rely more on more on a few activists on the far edge of the far right of the political spectrum. These supporters may be energetic and loyal, but they tend to damage Ansell's already badly tarnished brand. Instead of recognising this damage, though, Ansell appears to have become steadily more radicalised, as he has taken on board some of the peculiar ideas of his hardcore followers. The more radicalised Ansell becomes, though, the less palatable he is to the Kiwis whose support he wants to attract.
Martin Doutre exemplifies the problems that Ansell's remaining supporters bring him. For two decades now, Doutre has been advancing the theory that New Zealand was settled thousands of years ago by an advanced civilisation of peaceful whites. His claims to have discovered ancient cities and Stonehenge-like monuments in remote Northland forests have made him something of a figure of fun amongst trained scholars of this country's past. Doutre's Holocaust denial, admiration for the neo-Nazi pseudo-historian David Irving, and belief that 9/11 was an inside job have not helped his credibility.
Ansell has suggested that one of the aims of the Treatygate campaign is to win popular acceptance for his friend's strange ideas:
Over the past year, I’ve read a lot of Martin’s writing. I’ve prodded and poked at him on a few occasions when some explanation didn’t quite gel. And yet he’s always come up trumps. I’ve never failed to be impressed by the depth and breadth and robustness of his knowledge. I’m very happy to stand with Martin, just as I was once proud to stand with Roger Douglas. By the time this campaign is over, I intend the name of Martin Doutre to be well-known to his countrymen, and for all the right reasons.
Another inspiration for Ansell's new campaign is Colin Rawle, the head of the Dunedin branch of the New Zealand Anthrosophical Society and a man with some strong views about religion, race, and Rudolf Steiner. In a series of semi-coherent missives to various Kiwi media outlets over recent years, Rawle has attempted to convert the rest of us to his belief that an unholy alliance of Marxists, Muslims, lesbian feminists, and Maoris is trying to destroy New Zealand, and Western civilisation in general.
John Ansell recently reproduced a particularly paranoid Rawle text on his blog under the title The Oblivion Constitution. For Rawle, the constitution that Bolivia adopted in 2009 is a highly dangerous document, because it gives a certain degree of political autonomy to that country's indigenous Aymara and Quechua peoples. Bolivia is a poor and obscure nation, but Rawle believes it is a sort of twenty-first century Soviet Union, determined to stir up trouble, and perhaps even revolution, around the world.
After complaining about the interest of some Maori activists in the Bolivian constitution, Rawle turns his attention to Africa. He is particularly interested in Rhodesia, which was a British colony until 1965, when the white settlers who constituted about a twentieth of its population declared unilateral independence in protest at plans to give black Africans the vote. For fifteen years Rhodesia's whites maintained their rule, despite international protests and a guerrilla war by blacks.
Here is the imagined justification for attempting to terminate the great democratic project which, against the most implacable opposition, has been evolving in Western civilisation since the Greek/Roman age…Nothing it seems, has been learned by the vast social errors, of which Zimbabwe is only one example. The crime of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, when it was still a success story by any yardstick, was only that it was British/Western-administered and not yet perfect. Therefore, it had to be “liberated” by an alliance of Western Marxist/socialist zealots and racists, who have always been incapable of seeing the potential good in things which are not yet wholly good.
Here’s a tip, John: the next time you launch a campaign which claims, however cynically, to be about racial equality, don’t make a Holocaust denier and admirer of David Irving the intellectual frontman for it. Posting articles which praise apartheid Rhodesia on your blog might not be such a good idea, either.
[Posted by Maps/Scott]