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NRT: A surfeit of caution

Written By: - Date published: 6:26 pm, July 18th, 2013 - 28 comments
Categories: death with dignity, human rights, labour, leadership - Tags: , ,

I/S at No Right Turn on Street’s End of Life Choice Bill.


A surfeit of caution

When Louisa Wall put up her marriage equality bill, senior figures in Labour denounced it as a “distraction” and a “sideshow” and wanted her to drop it. The bill went on to be a great success, exciting people, inspiring people, showing them that Parliamentary politics mattered, and that Labour was relevant and could lead.

Naturally, Labour’s dinosaurs haven’t learned that lesson:

Labour MP Maryan Street is under pressure to drop a member’s bill which would legalise euthanasia because her party is concerned it could be a negative distraction in the lead-up to the general election next year.

If Ms Street’s End of Life Choice Bill was pulled from the ballot, the debate could extend into election year, and some Labour MPs felt this could hurt the party’s run for Government by distracting from its main policies and deterring more conservative voters.

Euthanasia is not as sexy an issue as marriage equality, nor as morally clear-cut. But like marriage equality, it is one whose support has been building for years and whose time has come. Its also one which reaches across traditional political lines – lest anyone forget, both Michael Laws (then a National MP) and Peter Brown (NZ First) have put up bills on the issue. While religious conservatives will fight it tooth and nail, there aren’t very many of them anymore, and marriage equality has burned them. For everyone else – including the elderly, who have watched their friends and family die slowly and painfully, stripped of their dignity – it is largely a matter of getting the safeguards right.

Labour could lead on this issue. Or it could abdicate that leadership to others. But if it does the latter, then it is basicly saying that all it offers is management. And if that’s the case, there is simply no reason to care about them.

28 comments on “NRT: A surfeit of caution”

  1. Tigger 1

    Agreed. Stop running from ‘scary’ stuff and let the MP lead the charge, as Ball did so brilliantly. If you’re worried about fallout then make it a conscience issue and allow Parliament to debate it free of party bs. That’s advice for all parties. Stop seeing disagreement between your MPs as weakness and realise its realistic and grown up.

  2. weka 2

    I’m in two minds about this. Euthanasia is a critical issue, and the bill would need alot of debate publicly. Next year I fear our efforts should be focussed predominantly on the left winning the election. If Labour weren’t in such a sad state, it would be possible to do both.

    On the otherhand, it’s not a distraction from Labour’s policies, it’s what politics is supposed to be about, duh. If Labour can’t manage to get their core policies across (and I agree this is a problem for them), then that says something about Labour.

  3. Dan1 3

    Go for it Maryan!
    I remember a ten year old lass dying of a brain tumour.
    “Daddy,” she said, “you didn’t let our sheepdog suffer like this.” Says it all really.
    Pain relief has improved over 30 years, but I am all for dignity in dying.
    A glass of wine on the deck surrounded by family and friends, a celebration of what has gone before, and then a release from unnecessary pain and suffering of the patient and family.

    I am sure there will a large degree of support across the political spectrum.

    • Bill 3.1

      “But sheepdogs don’t go to heaven, hon cause they don’t have a soul. But you do. And you want to go to go heaven, don’t you? Well…God gave you this life and it’s up to God to pluck you from this life and take you to his bosom. And if you deny God, then well hon, you’ll burn in hell for ever. And we wouldn’t want that hon, would we? What was that? You’re burning in hell now? Oh – tsk-tsk – there now, there now.”

      Apologies for any unintentional hurt to sensibilities…

  4. gobsmacked 4

    It’s pathetic.

    As with Louisa’s bill, the Labour caucus could have agreed not to put a bill into the ballot. Or they could put it in and if it gets drawn, deal with it like adults (fortunately it was mostly the latter with Louisa’s).

    But saying “Ooh, it’s gone in but let’s hope it doesn’t see the light of day, coz that would be awkward, but at least it’s not our decision, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed …” – that’s just an invitation to be mocked. Chronic lack of leadership, as usual.

    Withdraw it or stand by it.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Yep. Show some decent political management. Stand for it, or against it, and not somewhere in the meek grey space inbetween.

      • Alanz 4.1.1

        That is correct. And, please, do not mumble, bumble … and stumble.

        Make the argument cogently and clearly. And do lots of homework beforehand.

  5. It is not clear-cut imo although I want the ability to choose when and how I die and therefore support the ability of people to make that decision, I also really fear that in our society some people will be persuaded to go – you know because the bills are getting too high or they are no longer productive units in society. So the safeguards must be there. I have enacted the enduring power of attorney for my mother so this is not theoretical for me.

    • weka 5.1

      Interesting timing too, of a euthanasia bill and the kind of people-hating welfare reforms going on currently.

  6. Rhinocrates 6

    You really shouldn’t insult dinosaurs this way. They were very successful, sophisticated creatures of remarkable diversity, and as birds, which is what we call them now, the continue to innovate and prosper. The African Grey Parrot, the Kea and several species of crow, for example, exhibit intelligence equivalent to a five-year-old human, placing them well above the average economist.

    Labour could lead on this issue.

    Lead? Lead?! Do you realise how many steps actual leadership could take them away from the Bellamy’s buffet? Several at least! Maybe even a dozen! Are you insanely reckless?

    Alas, Captain Mumblefuck has appointed Whalecum as his senior policy advisor without actually paying him. It’s Whalecum who determines Labour policy now, not the membership or even the back benches. If a flabby Sontaran in a bad poodle hair wig doesn’t approve, it won’t be policy, no matter what work the membership does and you can be assured that Beltway Grant won’t want to upset the markets either.

    Apparently a half dozen soft NACT votes count for more than eight hundred thousand people who painted their roofs. I’m not sure if the electoral commission counts the same way though…

    • Suitably Clueless 6.1

      I really want a like button for comments like this, spot on the money, so to speak.

      [lprent: Tried before. Killed both by popular acclaim and because it was sucking CPU excessively. Unlikely to return. ]

      • Rhinocrates 6.1.1

        I’m thinking of renaming myself “Banquo’s Ghost” (see MacBeth ), but the postings of the old The Standard pages serve that purpose while “Rhinocrates” is sillier and I am very silly indeed.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          You have been missed.

          • Rhinocrates 6.1.1.1.1

            Thank you CV, and keep up the good fight, but I may have to devote more of my energies to my creative endeavours… the ones that pay… might pay… eventually…

    • Murray Olsen 6.2

      Great post, Rhino. You do realise I could now work out your identity by finding out who in Shearer’s office has qualifications in biology or palaeontology?

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        Plenty of dinosuars hanging around those parts…

        • Murray Olsen 6.2.1.1

          True, but thinking of dinosaurs as birds and vice versa is a fairly recent development. That gives an extra clue.

    • Alanz 6.3

      “Labour could lead on this issue.”

      More like Labour’s number one choice has been taking off like a LEAD balloon. Fly, fly, fly. Come on, fly. Six more months, o six more months. How long some more should we wait? Too late, soon it shall be too late.

      Grant, please, please, please, o Grant, please save the party. Please save the party from being euthanised. Save the list MPs, save the polls from slipping some more.

      • Colonial Viper 6.3.1

        Grant, Cunliffe and Little need to get their shit together ASAP and sort out a plan. Come on guys, for the good of the country, pretty please, don’t let us sleepwalk into another 3 long cold Tory years..

  7. Murray Olsen 7

    As far as euthanasia goes, fuck Labour again. They stand by damning with faint praise while NAct strips dignity from the living. When one of their own wants to restore it to the dying, they say the time isn’t right. Well, people die all the time, and any unnecessary suffering won’t be any less because it’s election year. In the meantime, people suffer and a few courageous doctors put their liberty on the line to help minimise the suffering.

    If I had a terminal disease and could foresee my inevitable death with no quality remaining, I’d make my own arrangements.

    • AmaKiwi 7.1

      “If I had a terminal disease and could foresee my inevitable death with no quality remaining, I’d make my own arrangements.”

      Check out a group called “Compassion and Choices” which originated as the Hemlock Society.

      • Murray Olsen 7.1.1

        Thanks, but you won’t get rid of me that easily 🙂
        Still got a while to go, Tories to annoy, windmills to charge down,………..

  8. Adrian 8

    It is bad political management. The left will not win power if it pisses off the Pasifika working class and offends it’s conservative religious beliefs. Labour in particular should be trying to enhance their living and working conditions, their poor wages, high power bills, health disparities, the list is endless. It should not be alienating them by being judgemental and picking arguements with them about some deeply held tenets.
    They may not vote National, but they will just not vote.
    Game over, three more years of Key and the country lost forever.

    • Murray Olsen 8.1

      Same argument as with gay marriage. The Polynesians I know are a bit sick of being used as a convenient excuse for Labour cowardice. They’re not as conservative as many people seem to think.

      • Adrian 8.1.1

        Pasifka people stayed home on election day in 2008, Murray. 14 votes needed in West Auckland, 45 in Chch Central etc, to get Labour candidates over the line just for staters. Good political management means doing the stuff you want at an appropriate time not when you are vulnerable to negative manipulation.

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