The Youtube debate was a bit of a let down to me because TV1 chose to play the least penetrating questions, allowing the leaders to pretty much stick to their stock answers. The only question that really broke through the pre-prepared stuff was Shane Taurima’s query about whether it is true that, as Pita Sharples is claiming, Key has privately told him National will abandon its policy to abolish the Maori seats. Key tried to evade and avoided outright denying it. Instead, he said ‘well, there’s no formal agreement’ etc. If he couldn’t outright deny a private promise to Sharples there is only one logical conclusion: that private promise has been made. Which means that National is running on a false platform regarding the Maori seats. Key needs to be questioned about this further. It’s not just a policy issue, it’s a matter of integrity and trust. The voting public has a right know National’s real policy.
On a related note, I get annoyed when I hear people like Therse Arseneau pompously say that events like the Springbok Tour might matter to people who were there at the time but not to those of us who are younger. Contrary to what a bunch of middle-aged people say, my experience is that the Springbok Tour does matter to people of my generation. We studied it at high school alongside the history of apartheid in South Africa. We grew up hearing of it as Kiwis standing up for justice. Along with the women’s vote and the nuclear ban, we see this as part of a proud tradition of New Zealand leading the world, standing up for what’s right (even if that’s not the reality, it is the myth). The protests are iconic to us and we have always been told the story from the side of the protesters. For me, and I would think many others of my age, when I see Clark stand proud with the actions of the protesters she is standing with that proud tradition, whereas Key’s vacillating pro-tour position seems to be attacking part of the New Zealand national story. Basically, Clark seems patrotic, while Key (as in other areas) seems to be talking New Zealand down. And again, it’s not just the issue of where he stood on the Tour, it’s that he tried to avoid telling us. Again, it comes down to trust.