What’s happened to leadership in this country?
Paul Henry has a racist rant to the Prime Minister and what does John Key do? He laughs along and tries to make a joke. Later, Key refused to denounce Henry, label his comments racist, or call for him to face consequences. If he felt what Henry was saying was wrong, Key didn’t show it because he’s afraid of taking a strong stand on any value lest it lose him some votes.
You know that if Helen Clark were still around she wouldn’t have sat there weakly laughing. She would have been outraged by Henry’s racism and she would have told him so. She would have torn strips off the little racist bastard. There was a leader who was unafraid to take a stand for her principles.
And Phil Goff was no better saying “I think that was Paul Henry being Paul Henry”. A studiously ambiguous statement. Again, there’s a fear there of taking a stand. He should have said ‘that’s not OK, that’s racist. That’s not what I and decent New Zealanders believe in and TVNZ shouldn’t be employing bigots as presenters’.
Finally, on a note of political strategy, where the hell are the Greens? This is exactly the kind of moment that serves as a branding exercise – when Labour is weak, the Green’s show how the Left should act and win votes in doing so. But no, the Greens haven’t even commented. Under the Norman-ites the Green’s political management is becoming increasingly like the spineless careerism we’ve come to expect from the Goffice.
A PM that is afraid to be a leader. A Leader of the Opposition who is afraid of ticking off racists. A Green Party that is afraid of making a claim for the Left vote when Labour fails. Come back, Helen, all is forgiven.
PS. A friend writes:
As someone who shares John Key’s Central European Jewish background, I am disgusted by his inability to clearly condemn what can only be taken as a racist comment. I wonder what Key’s refugee mother would make of it.