Nico (vilakins) wrote,

David Lange

I just heard that David Lange died last night. He was very ill so it wasn't unexpected; I could tell he didn't have long when he was interviewed on Campbell Live a couple of weeks ago before he went into hospital. He had kidney failure and was quite yellow and tired-looking, pausing often for breath. Despite that he was positive, saying he'd had a good life and he was happy even then, confined to a wheelchair but in his own home with his loving wife. He recalled the great shining moments of his life, and if winning the elections was one, another was the sheer joy of diving into crystal-clear water in the tropics and emerging into the sun, intoxicated with life.

Lange was one of the great Labour prime ministers, a giant like Norman Kirk, and physically too. It was back in the 80s but I remember him well for his wit, intelligence, and humanity; it was Lange who brought in the nuclear-free policy here, and who dazzled at the Oxford Union debate. He was a good person with ethics; he started as a lawyer but wasn't able to live with getting guilty people off to offend again. He brought us from a socialist USSR-type economy to a modern western one, and gave us a sense of self when we opposed French nuclear testing in the Pacific. It's a pity Roger Douglas took the reforms too far and too fast when Lange had said it was 'time to sit back and have a cup of tea'.

I wish him joy rather than peace; I think that would bore him.

Vale, David.

Tags: nz
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