lprent: Josie Pagani objected to mickysavage’s post objecting to her post at Pundit, and wanted me to publish this as a right of reply. That is something that doesn’t exist on this or any blog. After all there is always another site to put content up on. However the ongoing debate going on here at present about how the left and the labour movement should operate and communicate (from many different angles) makes it worth posting here.
This post will be fully moderated so stick to the topic. Comment in OpenMike if you think I may think your comment is going to be too far off-topic. I’ll discuss the errors of fact in this post in the first comment.
In the response to my post calling on progressive people to stand up to vilification and exclusion in sections of the left, many commenters on the Standard took the opportunity to vilify me and call for my exclusion.
David Cunliffe’s electorate chair, Greg Presland, posting under the pseudonym ‘Micky Savage’, wrote a post because I said comments at the Standard are an example of the intolerable abuse I’ve had enough of.
I’m tempted to point to the comments beneath that post as yet more proof. ‘Cringe-making airhead’ being one of the nicer things people say.
But I want to respond to some specific claims Mr Presland makes because, speaking as the Leader of the Labour Party’s senior electorate official, they presumably reflect the views of the Labour Party and therefore need to be examined carefully.
What Greg Presland tries to do is make everything a litmus test – he only has to find one or two statements that his baying readers may disagree with, and the proof of heresy is complete. This is the behaviour of an exclusive cult, not a broad-based political party which needs the support of half of New Zealanders to form a government.
He says I have “been vilified in the past in part” for my husband views. The sexism of this is breathtaking. Think about it: I’m not capable of developing my own thoughts, and can’t be judged on my own merits. He can’t contemplate a woman might not always agree with her partner. I am disappointed, to say the least, that women on The Standard haven’t called him and others on this bigotry.
Anyway, let me loyally be a good wife and point out he is wrong in his statement about my husband. He claims my husband wrote David Shearer’s comments about a ‘beneficiary on the roof.’ I know for a fact this is totally untrue. It was an allegation made by The Standard at the time, which John could not have responded to because you banned him from the Standard for life when he pointed out another false claim you made about him.
Not only did he not write the comments, but even if he had, politicians who give speeches take responsibility for their content. That’s why you vote for them, not for advisers.
He states I previously ‘though that John Tamihere would be a welcome addition as a Labour MP.
A year before JT made his thoughtless and misguided comments to a Roastbusters talkback caller, I said I was uncomfortable about a Labour party where working class Maori men weren’t welcome, even though that many would have conservative views I personally don’t like. This is actually a similar point to the one in my most recent post – that the left needs to be inclusive and stop vilifying.
One feature of the controversy about Willie and JT’s comments was that much of the discussion was aimed at their wider fitness as people – missing the opportunity to discuss the prevalence of misogynist and rape-enabling views across male society. The vilification of the individual undermined the politics of the substantive statement.
Yes it’s true, I opposed an in-work tax credit being extended to those not in work.
Well I pointed out that the announcement of this policy during the election campaign was greeted by low paid workers who thought we were taking the proverbial. That doesn’t mean I don’t support an increase in benefit levels. Using an in-tax work credit is the wrong tool.
How horrible does this observation make me? Helen Clark, Sir Michael Cullen, and the entire Cabinet of the previous government also believed WFF should not be extended to beneficiaries. Some time this year I am confident that David Cunliffe will announce a new policy in which – wait for it – WFF won’t be extended to beneficiaries.
In fact, just after I wrote the Herald column Greg Presland links to, I got a very nice comment about it from … David Cunliffe.
Greg says I opposed having a ‘proper proportion of women’ in parliament.
No I didn’t. I opposed a quota system and reserving seats only for women. I opposed that tactic not the value, and conflating the two is downright naughty.
But hang on a minute – it’s laughable to be lectured about sexism by someone who, a couple of sentences earlier stated I don’t have my own views, I am indivisible from my husband.
He says I supported casualisation on the waterfront.
No I didn’t. I said that casualisation is a fact of working life and we need to find ways to protect casualised workers. I am well aware this is a controversial statement, and that there is a solid body of opinion that says the only way to protect against casualisation is to join a union. This is an important debate and one the labour movement has to have. But Greg Presland distorts what I said.
He said I was probably the only Labour Party feminist that voted for Shane Jones.
How revealing is this statement – that those of us who supported an alternative contender in the leadership election are not welcome, that we don’t have a valid Labour voice, and that therefore, logically, we should be excluded.
So that puts the lie to David Cunliffe’s public claims during and after the contest that there would not be reprisals.
I reject the divisiveness and vilification that says you must be banished for voting the wrong way in a now-finished contest. It’s ugly. It’s self-defeating. Labour cannot win government by hunting heretics to demean and banish them.
Overall, Greg Presland’s outburst is summarised by his view that I represent a ‘right wing spin’ on Labour’s values.
I have written this elsewhere in self-defence, but let me repeat:
I believe in using progressive taxation and a strong interventionist state to achieve an equal and just community in which anyone, from any background, has opportunity and security. For example, I support state funding of free health care and free education. I believe in incomes that allow everyone to participate and belong to their community at all ages, both through wages and through fair provision for those in need. I believe the state has an obligation to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live. I believe that the interests of labour must not be made subservient to the interests of capital. I am a social liberal.
If you think that means I have noting in common with Labour, then others who have nothing to contribute to the Labour movement would also include Ed Milliband, Julia Gillard, Neil Kinnock…and Helen Clark and Jim Anderton. In fact, most of those leaders are to the right of me on several of those issues.
You accuse me of saying Labour values are unpopular and need to be jettisoned. Actually I believe the opposite. I think Labour values are popular – and therefore when Labour is unpopular it must be because it’s is not being faithful to its own principles. This is a much more nuanced analysis than you give me credit for.
No one has a monopoly on defining Labour values. I don’t claim mine are the only valid ones, but I strongly claim they are in the mainstream of the Labour and social democrat tradition in New Zealand and in like democracies.
Updated: Josie Pagani is on holiday at present. Her only contact with the world is a cellphone that she has to climb a hill to get on the net. Don’t demand replies because I will treat those as being off topic.