1896: Reeves Resigns
January 10, 2019
Today in history, 10 January, 1896: Christchurch Liberal Party MP William Pember Reeves handed in his resignation. Reeves (1857-1932) was the Socialist Professor Frink (ref. The Simpsons) of his day. That is, a geeky cartoon champagne socialist. In his case the eccentric technology that doesn’t work right was his economics and social planning.
The party through which Reeves came to power, New Zealand’s old Liberal Party, were a sort of teaming between Arnold Swatzeneger and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
On one hand, big tall gregarious charmers who could also wrestle you to the ground and clashed like jousting horses (eg. Seddon, Jock,..) On the other, playing Witchdoctor to the Warrior, was this smarty-pants brain box weedy guy.
Eventually the bruiser thugs had enough of the little egg-head socialist Professor Frink guy and ‘kicked him upstairs’ by having him resign. The resignation letter is here on Flicker, here on Facebook.
Cool find from the archives.
What happened next is that Reeves was “kicked upstairs” to the post of Agent-General in London. Being ‘kicked upstairs’ is how politicians get rid of each other by promotion.
What Reeves would really have liked was to stay home and be a man of influence in transforming New Zealand society in an intellectually Left direction. With his influence, for example, the Liberals passed a law called the Asiatic Restriction Act (1896) which put an £100 poll tax on Chinese coming to New Zealand. That’s c.$19,000 today, according to NZHistory.gov. Reeves saw the Chinese as a “Yellow Peril” and viewed them as inferior, like baboons.
‘At least you can kill baboons if they become troublesome’ he said.
Reeves next used his drive to have influence in New Zealand to write the book The Long White Cloud (1898) which, I must admit, shows an engaging and enjoyable wit to the old crook.
Ref.”baboons,” Warburton (1982)