Good on ya, Dame Margaret

Alf salutes Dame Margaret Shields, who – we are told – was pressured by former prime minister Helen Clark not to accept the title “Dame”.

But the former MP for Kapiti did not buckle, and this afternoon she will be invested as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Dame Margaret is one of the 24 women and 48 men who will be formally installed as dames and knights at a ceremony in Wellington.

Helen Clark’s Labour Government replaced the titles in May 2000 with the non-titular honours of principal and distinguished companions of the order.

National restored the titles in March and gave the 84 people affected by the change four months to choose whether to become dames and knights.

According to the Herald, Clark sent Mrs Shields a letter setting out why Labour had abolished the titles and saying she hoped she would not accept one.

Dame Margaret obviously has given Clark the fingers.

She did not believe that accepting the title meant she was a royalist.

Dame Margaret said she and Helen Clark had agreed to disagree. “I have a great deal of respect for Helen, but I am not a clone.”

Former Speaker Margaret Wilson, on the other hand, has rejected the title.

But she always was something of a pain in the arse, that woman, and should never have been put in a position where she could decide to accept or reject being another Dame Margeret.

As Attorney-General, she had presided over the abolition of the right of appeal to the Privy Council.

Helen Clark, now Administrator of the United Nations Development Fund, is in New Zealand on holiday but could not be reached for comment.

But she is understood to have been deeply disappointed that Dame Margaret and some others to whom her Government awarded high non-titular honours had accepted titles.

Too bad. But who gives a toss about what Clark thinks, eh?

The electorate – like Dame Margaret – gave her the fingers good and proper at the election last year.

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