It was deeply depressing to wake up this morning to the sound of Russel Norman running National Party attack lines on Radio NZ. For a party that has the best policy by far on how to deal with the huge economic and environmental challenges we face, it’s disappointing to see the Greens voluntarily descend into right-wing smear and misrepresentation. Gordon Campbell sums up my views perfectly:
So David Shearer is to be the Labour candidate in Mt Albert. The claims by Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman on Morning Report that this leaves Norman as the only progressive candidate on offer in the Mt Albert by-election were singularly depressing, as an index of how the Greens plan to fight this campaign. To reach that conclusion, Norman has willingly bought into the distortion of Shearer’s views on mercenaries in extreme Third World hot spots. He has also resurrected the bogey of the right wing leadership of the Labour Party, and claimed Shearer to be the creature of that faction and thus discredited as a â€˜progressive’ candidate.
Is it hard to see anything progressive in this array of smear tactics. For one thing, Shearer has spent a good deal of his professional life in humanitarian work in the Third World, some of it while Norman was kicking back safely on Waiheke Island. Secondly, Shearer’s views on private armies have been wildly distorted. In one paper, written 12 years ago, he had been saying that in Sierra Leone the private army involved had helped to end a hideously brutal civil war. Subsequently, Shearer’s position has been that such private armies are a fait accompli that has to be regulated which would mean that the likes of Blackwater could no longer enjoy legal immunity for their actions inside Iraq. That, I would have thought, was a progressive position that Norman himself would endorse.
The only thing I’d add is that Norman’s line about Shearer being imposed by Labour’s central office is a flat out lie, and he knows it. I’ve long been a critic of Labour’s selection processes, but the fact is Shearer’s selection was unanimous among the six delegates on the selection panel (half head office, half local party) and he won the floor vote by a clear majority in a field of eight candidates. That’s a pretty clear mandate by any standard.
Stick to policy Russel, and stop damaging the Greens with your amateurish game-playing. I’m not going to switch to Labour in a hurry, but at the moment I’d rather piss my vote away on the Alliance than support your lot.
[Shearer’s interview is available here. Plunket goes him pretty hard, well worth a listen.]