A couple of well-seasoned guys from near Gore deserve credit for Groundswell, writes Mark Chamberlain.

A COUPLE OF LAZY SUNDAYS AGO, I caught the movie ‘The Iron Lady’ about the former Prime Minister of Britain, through the tumultuous 1980s. Margaret Thatcher had a great line referring to the changing nature of politics: “it used to be about trying to do something,  but now it is more about trying to be someone”. Fast forward 30 years and the Iron Lady’s words are still relevant.

The public, in my opinion, seem to vote our leaders in on their looks, sympathetic head tilts, hugs, and as a friend of mine says – pixie dust, rather than on their deeds.

Former Prime Ministers Rob Muldoon and David Lange, who both had faces only a mother could love, would be unelectable in this day and age. The same could be said of Ms Ardern if she were morbidly obese for instance. She would be a Nevillenobody still working down at the local chippie.

Anyway, the movie got me thinking about a couple of ‘doers’ in my local community. Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Patterson are near-septuagenarians (a fancy word for knocking 70).

For once the competitive nature of the rural and urban communities was put aside to show our collective frustration and solidarity. It was a visual extravaganza of all that makes a town like Gore not only survive but thrive.

Their name recognition may be low, but their protest group Groundswell is high on the radar of the ninth floor of the Beehive. They have, not once, ever tried to BE anyone, but have relentlessly tried to DO something about the issues facing farmers. While a lot of us mere mortals initially sat on our hands, these guys along with a few others have created, what seems to be, a stirring deep inside of us, a swelling of rigid rural pride.

This culminated in a day of national protest in 57 centres – with Gore as the epicentre. For once the competitive nature of the rural and urban communities was put aside to show our collective frustration and solidarity. It was a visual extravaganza of all that makes a town like Gore not only survive but thrive.

On that day, I feel we finally (pardon my French)  grew a pair and gave them a good old-fashioned rub right in the face of Ms Ardern and her liberal elites sheltering in the Capital – speaking figuratively of course.

The day of protest brought out good people with good intentions and coincided with both school holidays and good weather. We made sure that the three youngest Chambos were not only there, but that they clearly understood why.

One disappointment was the absence of any of our farmer co-operatives being visual, instead running for the hills under a cloak of political correctness and wokeness. Perhaps they were forgetting who owns the co-operatives in the first instance and whom they rely upon for their incomes and company vehicles, without which they will struggle to tow their boats around at Christmas time?

Continuing to sit on fences will not only give you a sore bum but will also cost you business in the future, I suspect.

Also, a big welcome aboard the bandwagon to a couple of ageing rural radio announcers and their well-known contributing farmers, who have often undermined Bryce and Laurie’s efforts. Better late than never.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Government has been given till August 16 to respond to Groundswell’s concerns. The support that this group has got would surely have you believe that the Government could not ignore it… but my guess is, they will.

To Bryce and Laurie, I salute you. I think it is fair to say that Labour’s recent 10% drop in the polls, is partly due to your efforts. If this can be achieved by a couple of unassuming farmers from West Otago, who have had more than a few trips around the sun, what can be achieved0 if we all support their efforts?

Oh and yes, calving has started well.