This week National found itself the centre of media suggesting that its treatment of women is still not acceptable.
A couple of Young Nats were outed as being behind the trolling of Christchurch left wing female politicians.
Christchurch city councillor Sara Templeton was on the receiving end of the trolling. She did the very wise thing of requiring Facebook through an application under the Harmful Digital Communications Act to provide the IP address of the fake user account used to troll her and other female Christchurch politicians.
The address was traced to Young Nat Bryce Beattie. He denied responsibility saying that he had a lot of flatmates. Another Young Nat Jessee MacKenzie then admitted it was him.
From Tina Law at Stuff:
A Young Nat has outed himself as the person responsible for mysoginistic trolling of female politicians, saying his community board hopeful flatmate had nothing to do with it.
Jessee MacKenzie made the admission after the courts unmasked his Christchurch flatmate, fellow Young Nat Bryce Beattie, as the owner of the computer IP address linked to the harassment.
The pair have since resigned from the National Party and Beattie is also no longer running for a seat on a Christchurch community board.
Beattie denies any involvement in or knowledge of the harassment, but says he resigned because “it felt like the right thing to do”.
MacKenzie said, via a statement on Thursday, that last year was particularly bad for him mentally following a rough break up.
“I directed my energy the wrong way in the hopes of feeling better. I’ve taken steps to seek help. While I know this is no excuse I just wanted to add some insight into my thought process during the time.
It is interesting how both MacKenzie and Beattie spontaneously resigned from the party without any apparent prompting. And Beattie did so even though his initial explanation, that he had no idea who it was or what was happening, was on the face of it a plausible defence.
This is not an isolated event. Remember how three years ago then leader Simon Bridges conducted a major review of the culture of National Caucus after the Jami Lee Ross allegations were made public?
At the time Jason Wells reported on the details:
National leader Simon Bridges is ordering an internal review to ensure a culture in the party where women feel safe – and has spoken to his deputy Paula Bennett about outing Jami-Lee Ross’ extra-marital affairs.
Bridges also said the party was unlikely to consider using the waka-jumping law to remove Ross from Parliament as long as he is was unwell.
Speaking to media this morning, Bridges said he would talk to Parliamentary Service this week to “make sure women feel absolutely safe in the workplace and feel they can confidently come forward on all matters”.
Bridges said he wanted to make sure the same is happening within the party, with volunteers, candidates and staff.
He has ordered an review into this.
The move comes after Newsroom revealed at least four women had come forward and accused Ross of harassment.
“We are getting independent advice to make sure we have got the best systems and process so women do feel safe.”
Bridges did not think there is a cultural issue within the National Party – “but the reality is several women have been affected by what has happened”.
He said he wanted to make sure National can do the best for its future.
Strangely enough National’s female MPs including the two most affected, Sarah Dowie and Maureen Pugh, were not interviewed as part of the review.
It is not only female National MPs and staff who were targets. Labour MP Clare Curran received particularly unsavory attacks in the house.
Clare was a weak link. National wanted to break her. And we did. Watching those question time answers, from about 10 metres away, you could pinpoint the very moment her career ended. I can only now imagine what it felt like. But at the time all we felt was excitement and success.
— Jami-Lee Ross (@jamileeross) July 4, 2020
There have been attempts to say that this sort of thing happens “on both sides”.
Some left wingers can get pretty ropy. But targeting females in the hope they will then break is a something that the vast majority of left wingers would not tolerate.