Phil Says: It’s Harder Than It Looks

It’s a tough job being leader of the Opposition.

But I’m used to tough jobs. It may be the worst job in Parliament, but I have never shirked from a challenge.

People are always attacking you for something when you’re the leader of a political party. I don’t complain, though. Life’s not meant to be easy.

I remember what my father would say to me when I was a boy and someone had been unkind to me. He would sit me on his knee and say, “son, pay no mind to such folk. Don’t let their words get to you. Being a man is all about turning the other cheek.”

That good advice, and it’s served me well throughout my political career.

When you spend so much of your time in Wellington, it’s good to have something to escape to, so I look forward to getting back to my farm and chopping wood. With axe in hand, and with my torso muscular and glistening with sweat, I will lay into a pile of wood with brutal savagery.

My wife does most of the work around the farm, because I’m away so often, but she likes to watch me chopping wood. Something about the constant rhythm of my golden-tanned muscle-bound body pounding that weapon into the wood seems to drive her crazy. As my body rises and falls I will often catch sight of her from the corner of my eye, pouting and breathing heavily. When my work is done she’ll usually be in as much of a sweat as I am. Then I’ll go to her and embrace her with my powerful arms, before ripping of her dress and flinging her to the ground.

As our sweaty bodies roll in the grass and we take our pleasure, I will often think about the years of service I have given to our nation, and will reflect on my own performance. It’s a performance I’m proud of.  I know what drives the people of New Zealand. They want to know that their political leaders will be strong, responsive, and determined to push hard for what they need, again and again. But I’m no one-trick pony, and I’ve been on the scene long enough to know there’s more than one way to get the job done.

When our hours of passion have ended we’ll put on our clothes and I’ll ride into town on my motorbike, the huge powerful engine roaring between my legs as the ACDC pumps through my headphones. I’ll have a Lion Red or two with the boys and watch the big game before heading back to the farm, but I’m always happy to oblige if someone at the bar wants to talk about politics.

I often get asked at these times why people should vote for me or my party. I tell them it’s about leadership. Being in charge of a team means always being ready to make the tough calls, do what’s right, and not worry about short term popularity.

I have never been concerned about the chattering of others. I learned at a young age what it means to be a man and to make the hard calls. I left home at sixteen and had to make my own way in the world. I was lucky enough to get a university education, but the experience I gained in the School of Hard Knocks was much more valuable.

And once you get to my position the work doesn’t get any easier, let me tell you. It’s just like the words of that song:

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the by-ways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

I know I’m up for the job. Our people want a firm, experienced hand. Someone who will listen and who is attentive and understanding of their needs, but who is brave enough to try something new when the occasion requires it.

My record of public service stands proud. You can be sure that I will give you what you need.