Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Heather du Plessis-Allan: You don't have to applaud a politician

Judging by the list of the most popular reads on any particular website, it seems quite a few of us have now read the account of how rude the audience at the Ockham Book Awards were to the Prime Minister.

According to Steve Braunias, when Luxon was welcomed onto the stage, the "applause basically sounded like one hand clapping" - and after his speech was done, the applause was even less than before. And he was apparently gently mocked in comments by the MC, our very own Jack Tame,  and two authors thereafter. 

I'm predicting that there are going to be split opinions on this, and that the opinions will probably largely be split along voting lines. But I'm going to come to the defence of that audience, because I think it is perfectly acceptable for an audience not to applaud a politician.

You don’t have to. You don't have to give a round of applause to a politician if you do not agree with what they stand for.

Jacinda Ardern had to live with that kind of treatment, and I'm sure many of us thought it was completely deserved. She got yelled at by farmers at Fieldays, she and a bunch of Labour politicians were bugged by protestors at pre-arranged events after the lockdowns. And that’s not even to mention the stuff that apparently used to get said to her just on the street.

It is bad manners, you’ll have no argument from me on that one. But as long as it’s not going too far, like that kid who spat at David Seymour, and it's just words or deliberate silence - I can accept some bad manners in politics.

Because the decisions that are made by these people in power are actually material - they affect our lives. Sometimes really badly, think of what Jacinda's Government was doing to farmers. You could hardly expect farmers to give her a round of applause.

It's the same with the Ockham's audience. The kind of people who go to book awards evenings are generally going to be the kind of people who go to dinner parties in Grey Lynn, and while drinking a bottle of $200 pinot noir, they moan about child poverty - and they can't even see the irony in that.

They're hardly going to love Luxon, and they don’t have to love Luxon. And they don’t have to pretend to, just like you don't have to pretend to like your least favourite politician either.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show HERE - where this article was sourced.


Anna Mouse said...

To some extent I disagree and without supporting Luxon this is why...

Luxon was an invited participant and as such regardless of personal politics deserves at least the modicum of respect as said invitee, both from the MC and the audience et al.

The fact that Ardern may have been heckeled by farmers at an event she attended is not comparible because she was not there by invitation.

Luxon did not go to the Ockham's to grandstand politics, whereas Ardern at Fieldays would have had a political bent.

Tip the situations in reverse and you could without doubt state that Ardern at the Ockhams would not have been treated the same.

People who show their bias in public lack the basics of socially acceptable norms and it says much more about them than it does anything else.

IMO you may not like a politician but at an invite only event you should behave with more decorum than rabble at footy match.

EP said...

Good thoughtful commentaries both.

Anonymous said...

Jack Tame’s comments, while predictable, were unacceptable, but the audience is well within their rights to not clap. There’s nothing wrong with ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’

I doubt Luxon would have been bothered, he no doubt mixes in these Grey Lynn, Herne Bay, Remuera, Thorndon (Wgn) & Fendalton (CHCH) etc Pinot Noir & Champagne Socialist circles far more than the rest of us, so is probably well versed in their hypocrisy.

To their credit, at least they turned up & listened. He could have just as easily been speaking to an empty room, like Hipkins has.

Valid Point said...

A simple rule is that whilst you may not like the person holding the Prime Minister's title, you must always respect the position. Without that, it's a slippery slope to disorder.

Anonymous said...

What is the Ockhams?

Anonymous said...

Valid point, a slippery slope to disorder? Because no one liked, agreed with, voted for, or aren't interested in the current prime minister??? Please.