Written By: - Date published: 6:59 am, August 6th, 2017 - 106 comments
Categories: benefits, class, class war, election 2017, feminism, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, Left, Metiria Turei, welfare - Tags: #ChangeTheGovt, #IamMetiria, Korero Pono
This Guest Post is from The Standard commenter and occasional guest author Kōrero Pono.
Everyone is acting like Metiria committed the crime of the century, both her accusers and defenders. I know that most of her defenders believe they need to bow down to the sensibilities of the law and believe they need to be seen to not condone supposed ‘fraud’ (either benefit or electoral) but seriously buying into the bullshit narrative of the right (and the supposed left – aka Labour) simply reinforces the position of those who’d like nothing more than to continue living under a corrupt right wing government.
Those supporting Metiria need to reinforce the message that Metiria was trying to highlight when she outed herself. That we live in a country that massively disadvantages beneficiaries and low wage workers. Many are forced to live on less than subsistence levels of income. When faced with the proposition of seeing their children go hungry people make decisions that they should not have to make. Those decisions include not paying bills, power company hoppers, resorting to loan sharks, selling their possessions, borrowing from family and friends, prostituting themselves, staying in abusive relationships, telling lies to get assistance, going to food banks and subjecting themselves to unneeded ‘interventions’ and intrusive processes simply because they lack sufficient resources, and having to accept and eat food that many would consider substandard.
This list could go on and on but the point is that put in the same position I doubt there are many parents that would not do the same to ensure their children do not go hungry. We need to reinforce the message that because certain people (usually women and children) are massively disadvantaged the system criminalises them when they do what they have to do to survive. A significant number of beneficiaries and low waged workers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The narrative continues to demonise the poor (bad parent, bludger, criminal, vulnerable children, lazy, useless) and individualise the problems created by unjust and punitive policies and a less than adequate welfare system.
If the information I am reading regarding Ardern’s stance is true, then I am disappointed at her lack of steel. She should, at the very least have defended the position that Metiria found herself in back in the 90s and highlighted the disadvantage faced by women and children every day, forcing many into making decisions that may well criminalise them. Instead Ardern bends to the dominant narrative, a narrative that primarily punishes women and does little to support her supposed feminist principles. This type of hypocrisy reinforces my disappointment in Labour because it suggests that we are simply going to get more of the same from them and let’s face it, Labour (along with National) have done very little over 30 plus years to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable in this country, and if they (Labour) cannot even stand up for their supposed coalition partner, then more fool them because those missing million and those wavering between Labour and Greens will continue as they have done and that may mean another 3 years stuck with National.
I hope I am wrong on this but if Ardern’s stance on Metiria is as has been reported in MSM, then that does not bode well for any policy announcements needed to show they are serious about tackling poverty. So far, the policy I have read does little to help those who need it most. I live in hope that they will surprise me when they start announcing their policy going forward but at this stage the Greens are the only party IMHO that have come up with any policy that will make a difference to those who need it most. I am just grateful that Metiria has sufficient life experience to know what it is like to live struggle and therefore she has the empathy and understanding to act as a strong spokesperson and advocate for our most vulnerable citizens.