Written By: - Date published: 6:52 am, August 8th, 2017 - 45 comments
Categories: class war, election 2017, elections, greens, jacinda ardern, james shaw, labour, Left, liberalism, Media, Metiria Turei, Propaganda, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: class war, jacinda ardern, Media, metiria turei
The desire to see Metiria Turei assume the role as NZ’s next Prime Minister is a serious one. That doesn’t mean it’s expectated come September. I call it pragmatic idealism….here is the ideal, while over here are the limitations of reality. Part of the limitation is that the Green Party didn’t hit the ground running off the back of Metiria’s Welfare policy announcement and NZ Labour certainly have hit the ground running off the back of Jacinda becoming party leader.
But think of this for moment. Imagine an indigenous woman becoming the leader of a country such as New Zealand (maybe think ‘Canada’ by way of comparison) and the impact that would have throughout the English speaking world and beyond. Better still, imagine that person possessing the depth and breadth of integrity that Metiria has, and that being allied with formative life experiences from down here at the foot of the ladder, that both protect and nurture that innate ability to discern meaningful, or institutional and systemic levels of right and wrong.
Okay. Now park that off to the side for moment.
There is a rule of thumb (some might call it a golden rule) regarding ‘peoples’ champions’. If media and other aspects of the establishment view them favourably, then they aren’t our champions. They certainly aren’t any threat to the status quo.
The concentrations of power that influence our society most heavily, that I’ll simply label ‘the establishment’, can express desire for change. And does so often enough. But the type of change the establishment seeks is safe. It’s contained change that either furthers establishment goals, or that protects gains already made. So for example, after some years of “peddle to the metal” reform, there might arise a certain ‘wisdom’ within circles of power that advocates for a period of slower and gentler change – a period during which thumb screws applied to ordinary people are loosened back a notch while substantive gains get bedded in – an easing off as it were, to ensure continued traction.
Arguably, that is what the Clark years were all about- a period of short term compromise by elites that was accompanied by some long term bedding in. Then, when Clark’s time was deemed to be up, there was John Key, touted by media as the peoples champion who would lay low the increasingly autocratic and meddlesome Clark. And John Key would still be the darling of media and waltzing into a fourth term by the way except, well…he’s gone. So now the establishment can get in behind a dowdy Bill English who’d probably struggle to sell an ice cream to a child even if he promised to give the child the ice cream money in the first place, or it can back Jacinda Ardern – NZ’s very own Marcon or Trudeau (certainly not NZ’s Corbyn or Sanders).
Who would you back in their position?
The next question is, given what your position actually is, and given we have more than a simple binary choice in NZ, why would you back her (if you back her)?
There’s a lot of hype and almost astro-turfing about at the moment that would push Jacinda as caring, as selfless and even as feminist besides all manner of other ‘moma’s home made apple pie goodness’. Maybe you’re buying it. I don’t really care if you are.
But taking the spin at face value, I just can’t imagine how such an innocent survived the bear pit of NZ Labour’s caucus.
On the other hand, there’s the evidence that points to her being the front for something that’s really quite ruthless and calculating.
Take Andrew Little as an example. Jacinda and her team are really quite effusive in their admiration for the man who was noble enough to sacrifice himself for the perceived greater good of the NZ Labour Party as well as for the perceived greater good of New Zealand in general. Except that….well, just 24 hours before supposedly voluntarily stepping aside, Andrew Little was speaking on Radio New Zealand and insisting he wanted to lead NZ Labour into the election. I commented on it at the time – drawing attention to the difference between that desire and an ambition to be the next PM of New Zealand.
For me, that’s the first scratch on the surface of this shiny bauble of goodness were being presented with. It’s being somewhat wiped over for now. And of course Andrew Little isn’t going to say he was done over by NZ Labour’s caucus. Not at the moment anyway. And so Ardern and the team get to present themselves as saviours of goodness who merely stood up to fill a vacuum that was not of their making. Our heroes then, have arrived just in the nick of time to save the day – Phew!
And not only that, but Jacinda is nobody’s fool. She’s an everyday person who will go in and bat for women by way of giving a radio host a right good piece of her mind over the issue of employers asking women about their plans for having children. I watched the clip. And I was both surprised and not surprised that she didn’t simply mention that it’s illegal for an employer to ask such a question. The law, after-all, seems to be her ‘go to’ place when confronted with matters of right and wrong. It was absolutely her refuge when asked for her thoughts on Metiria’s DPB claim (ministers cannot condone breaking the law). And it was also the ground she seemed to have occupied when ‘sadly’ informing one and all that Metiria could have no place in a post September cabinet.
Now there’s a peoples’ champion – that erstwhile solo parent and dangerous breaker of laws! Reviled by media, unassuming, calling a spade a spade and gaining a fair bit of genuine grassroots support for her troubles. Obviously, that’s a problem for any astro-turfing pretender to the role of peoples champion. But Metiria, or so the hope must be, has been effectively side-lined now. And what’s more, Jacinda’s hands are clean. Just like Jacinda’s hands are clean over Andrew Little
being ousted voluntarily stepped aside.
As an aside, I feel I have to hand it to Shaw. He’s a lousy liar. I’ve no idea who he thought he was convincing with his hesitant response to the question on Q+A of whether a phone call from who-ever in NZ Labour had forced Metiria’s hand, or whether she’d unilaterally arrived at a decision to not seek a cabinet position.
These people with such high ideals and levels of personal integrity, willingly, and with no back room pressure at all, falling on their swords! Who’d have thought NZ was so blessed!? Not for New Zealand politics any inclination to kick people when they’re down, to take full advantage of a persons short term political weakness or passing psychological vulnerability to force them out of the way. At least, not when we’re talking about NZ Labour’s caucus – that venerable institution of straight shooting, straight talking and exemplary conduct and behaviour.
So okay. The Jacinda bandwagon is rolling and the wheels probably won’t come off any time in the next six weeks. Too many facets of institutional power are there to clear away any bumps or rocks, thus ensuring a smooth ride up ’til election day. I mean Christ – even Patrick Gower is on-side. If that doesn’t tell you something, then you’re probably incapable of acquiring knowledge or assembling informed opinions.
Come September the 23rd, the choice is going to be between voting for winners over losers, or voting for right over wrong. The idealist in me imagines people in their droves voting for what’s right, while the pragmatist concedes that most people will merely vote for a shiny win.
But as I wrote in this post before the demise of Andrew Little as NZ Labour leader, the next three years should probably be regarded as NZ Labour’s swan-song. That being the case and assuming Metiria Turei remains in parliament, I can foresee happy circumstances where idealism and pragmatism merge in 2020.
So I really do hope she sticks around . Because I’m quite looking forward to swapping my #iammetiria t-shirt for a #meti4pm one.
edit – this post was written just prior to knowing that Kennedy Graham and David Clendon had done a bunk. I guess they’d disagree with the sentiments expressed in the headline…