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The leadership vacuum

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, October 5th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: greens, helen clark, john key, leadership, phil goff, racism - Tags:

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:

Enjoyed this comment under John Drinnan’s piece in the Herald today.
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.
You forget that the man is the son of a Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis. Of all people he should understand the importance of standing up to racism. He’s even more hollow than I’d thought.

41 comments on “The leadership vacuum ”

  1. freedom 1

    ” Unite Union national director Mike Treen said he did not call for someone’s dismissal lightly.

    “However Paul Henry legitimises racism and bigotry in the workplace. I deal every day with problems associated with managers and even co-workers abusing staff because the look or sound different,” he said.

    Workers could end up “tormented and bullied out of their jobs by the so-called humour being practiced by Paul Henry”.

    “When we try to protect the workers, the inevitable response is ‘well, Paul Henry is allowed to use this language on national TV why can’t I?’ Paul Henry has become the poster boy for bigotry.” ”

    Combine these thoughts with the inaction of Smile and Wave and I believe it should become a discussion not only about racism but also about State funded propoganda

  2. toad 2

    Marty, go a bit easy on the Greens. Russel Norman blogged on it yesterday:

    To say that you are sorry if you offended someone is to say that you are not sorry at all. Henry shouldn’t be sorry for offence caused but sorry because what he said was racist.

    You don’t have to look and sound European to be a New Zealander.

    If Henry can’t recognise that his comments are racist and actually apologise then he isn’t the right person to front our only morning current affairs TV show. TVNZ is not Fox News, it’s owned by all of us not Murdoch. We shouldn’t have to put up with this crap.

    And Keith Locke did interviews with several media outlets yesterday and put out this media release this morning:

    “It isn’t just a matter of apologising to the Governor-General. Mr Henry’s comments have seriously offended the Indian community within New Zealand,” said Mr Locke.

    “Paul Henry was denigrating hundreds of thousands of our citizens who are not of European or Māori origin, and to him don’t ‘look’ like real New Zealanders.

    “Whether the TV host intended it or not, his racist stereotyping of who is or isn’t a real New Zealander encourages discrimination in employment and other areas of New Zealand life.

    “TVNZ should also rethink its stance. The state broadcaster should stop promoting its Breakfast programme as a platform for bigotry.

    “That is the only meaning that can be taken out of TVNZ’s defence of Mr Henry yesterday when its spokesperson said, ‘[Mr Henry] is prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud’.”

    [lprent: See the note here. ]

  3. gingercrush 3

    When was this post? In the last five minutes or was it prepared earlier and only made it to the site now?

    Just asking because the Greens did release something and Goff has since made a more thorough comment thought very political and rather petty since he could have said all that yesterday.

    [lprent: Most of the posts are scheduled. This one I remember reading in the queue late last night. It is just one of the things that readers have to put up with when you have a site of authors who work during the day.

    Unlike so many bloggers on the right, we have real jobs 😈 ]

    • r0b 3.1

      This post was written late last night and scheduled for now.

      Even if it has been overtaken by events the point is still valid – easy to jump on board the bandwagon now – where was the leadership when it was needed? In particular, Key was the man literally on the spot, and he did nothing.

  4. Gosman 4

    Helen Clark lost the last election in case you forgot. She’s happy in her retirement in New York and ain’t coming back, so get over it.

    • r0b 4.1

      And yet. oddly enough, the RWNJs just can’t get enough of slagging her off. Still terrified of her – tee hee!

      Oh, and – retirement? Far from it.

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        Whose slagging her off?

        anyway if that is an indication of someone being terrified of someone else then I shudder to think about the nightmares some of you people have over John Key.

    • Alwyn 4.2

      Losing the last election doesn’t seem to have registered with the idiot reporters for the Dom/Post
      Acccording to today’s paper (The Diary – page A13, which I don’t see online) Parekura Horomia, after flying from Gisborne to Wellington this week gave another passenger “a ride home in his ministerial car”.
      I realise the reporters can’t stand seeing the Labour Party out of office but one does rather wonder about their powers of observation.
      Mind you a couple of days ago, in the same paper the headline writer had Reefton as being in Southland.

  5. frog 5

    Hi Marty G,

    Over at frogblog we’d love it if you’d check your facts before hitting publish.

    Russel Norman wrote about Paul Henry’s racism and non-apology yesterday: http://blog.greens.org.nz/2010/10/04/paul-henry-should-actually-apologise-or-go/

    Keith Locke was in this morning’s Herald on the topic: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10678236

    And the Greens put out this press release earlier today: http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/it-s-about-more-sir-anand-paul

    We also shared our views on PH’s racism with another 4.5 thousand people via Facebook this morning.



    [lprent: The post was finished at 23:37 last night and queued early this morning to appear after other posts. Some of us have to work on things other than politics during the day…. So the posts are scheduled.

    From memory of the post, it referred to Russel Normans press release from yesterday without any degree of enthusiasm, in much the same way that it referred to Phil Goffs response yesterday. Both parties appear to have gotten off their butts today. No doubt we will see follow up on that after the workday ends. ]

    • toad 5.1

      LP, Russel Norman actually got off his butt yesterday – the link I posted above and frog has linked to as well was to a blog post by Russel October 4, 2010 7:18 pm:

      To say that you are sorry if you offended someone is to say that you are not sorry at all. Henry shouldn’t be sorry for offence caused but sorry because what he said was racist.

      You don’t have to look and sound European to be a New Zealander.

      If Henry can’t recognise that his comments are racist and actually apologise then he isn’t the right person to front our only morning current affairs TV show. TVNZ is not Fox News, it’s owned by all of us not Murdoch. We shouldn’t have to put up with this crap.

      That’s pretty much the same line The Standard’s authors have taken, and a hell of a lot stronger and more principled than Goff’s pathetic effort yesterday (which Goff firmed up somewhat today after checking which way he wind was blowing).

      • lprent 5.1.1

        My apologies.

        I didn’t see that rather late press release yesterday (and I’d guess that Marty didn’t either). I suppose we should really get ourselves on the mailing list for press releases from the greens (and labour for that matter) and disperse them internally

        I’ll add that to my interminable task list…

  6. freedom 6

    What pisses me off most on this Paul Henry bs is that every politician and journo etc have an opinion on what is the right response and why we should all be outraged at this attack on New Zealanders. The MSM is overflowing with content dedicated to standing up for the values of New Zealand, the rights of people to be treated decently etc, etc, etc,

    Where the F*%K was their concern for New Zealanders when CERRA was given life?
    I am and will remain disgusted with all Members of New Zealand’s Parliament for this act of idealogical treason

    (Special mention goes to the Greens, who have failed more massively than the NACTs could ever have hoped for and are now working overtime on this issue to regain some footing)

  7. Raptor 7

    “Finally, on a note of political strategy, where the hell are the Greens?”

    HAHAHAHAHA. You so silly. Russ the Muss came out strongly against it straight up last night on Frogblog and Keith the Crusader put out a release earlier in the morning.

    Unlike Phil Goff who fudged the question just as bad as Key did.

    Also, it is worth pointing out that youse Labour people are quick to call for Henry’s head, not according him the benefit of the processes and laws to protect unfair dismissal which you’re so keen to protect. Hypocritcal much?

    My advice: check yo’ facts, fool.

    • freedom 7.1

      btw Raptor
      Making racist remarks is definitely grounds for instant dismissal in TVNZ contracts
      It is up to the employer to act or to let it slide, thankfully this time they acted, sort of.

  8. insider 8

    Helen Clark quite happily trooped onto Paul Holmes’s and Paul Henry’s programmes for patsy interviews for years with never a cross word spoken. I think you are overestimating what she might say. He response in the election debates in 08 showed she was not always quick on her feet in reading a situation.

  9. tc 9

    Nact are cruising towards next years election with a PR savvy leader, the spin, a docile MSM (helped along by the lapdog TVNZ) and an opposition that’s more piss n wind than fire n brimstone.

    Unless Phildo pulls his finger out, delegates to those in labour who can atriculate in 10sec soundbites and shows some spine I wish him well on the backbenches after election 2011.

    Phildo’s following a tough act and the cracks are showing as whilst he’d be a heap better PM than sideshow he’s got albatrosses like King/Mallard and his own persona to overcome.

    • pollywog 9.1

      In much the same way as a vote for Key in the last election was more a vote against Helen, i reckon come next election, a vote for Goff will be a vote against Key only no one really wants Goff to become prime minister…so then what ?

      It becomes a wasted vote ?

    • NickS 9.2


      Lawl, methinks I’ll use this in future if (or rather when) Goff fucks up.

      But yeah, Phildo really should have shown some bloody spine and cluebatted both our dimwitted PM and Paul Henry, instead the meek, pathetic response he gave, which I’m guessing was Phildo’s (or his PR advisor’s) brilliant idea to not alienate the fuck-tard and anti-“PC” vote. To which the question must be asked; “why does Labour want to court these drooling imbeciles?”.

  10. tea 10

    Helen never offended here Marty. What’s to forgive? It’s the ones left behind that are being constantly offensive. Perhaps she’s taken Bernard Hickey’s advice!

  11. Agreed Marty, at least viz Labour.
    It’s just too pathetic for words for Labour to eventually come out and condemn this sort of bullshit.
    It took Grant Robertson on Red Alert late yesterday afternoon to say something a bit more forceful – which Trevor Mallard has since managed to criticize today (yes, Trevor is now using RA to criticize his fellow MPs) in a belated attempt to try and out-outrage Robertson. Is there a rugby video someone could put on for Trevor to watch? Good on Grant for getting to the pumps only 8 or so hours after the fire, but I was wondering if anyone in Labour comms is familiar with the concept of media monitoring?

    To see Goff now come out today trying to catch the long since departed train of righteous condemnation of Key is just sad. And very annoying considering these people are supposed to be the bullwark between the People and Key’s neo-con agenda.

    This is so mind-bogglingly incompetent.

  12. just saying 12

    The grand coalition of the right that is parliament disappoints the left again. *Yawn*

    Let me know if and when any of them does something, anything, remotely principled, or vaguely left wing, (without the say-so of focus-group morning-teas held in the leafier suburbs).

    I know, I know, I’ll be swamped with all the heartening news.
    -Yeah right

  13. Tanz 13

    Helen is in New York, working hard apparently, and attending quite a few art exhibitions. She’s not going to come back, and I agree with some comments above, that she would also be as diplomatic as Key, in the same situation.

    • Blighty 13.1

      Key wasn’t being diplomatic, he was being a coward.

      yesterday, he wouldn’t say if henry should be disciplined or not. Now he says two weeks suspension is the right punishment. he just drifts in the wind.

  14. just saying 14

    If Goff actually cared about New Zealand and the Labour party he’d voluntarily step aside.

    Retiring to a hobby farm with some lucrative and prestigious sinecure would hardly be a a fate worse than death. Or he could stay in parliament – even in cabinet.

    But he won’t ‘man-up’, he never does – it’s all ambition and ego. He’s become one of the things he got involved in politics to fight against – a selfish apologist for privilege and inequality, desperately holding onto his stuff -and to hell with everyone else.

  15. Logie97 15

    Watch John Key being “taken aback somewhat” as he plays along with Henry – judge for yourselves.

    • marsman 15.1

      The pin-head wants to be Governor General, but not right now cause he doesn’t want to spoil his friendship with Key! ? Does he drool at the mouth when he looks at Key? like Espiner ? Boys Own stuff. Heroes and villains.

      • Hennie van der Merwe 15.1.1

        Why is no-one commenting on PH remark during the same program that he wishes for something to go wrong at the Commonwealth Games? I would love to hear him (and the rest of the country) rant and rave if an Indian journo should wish for next year’s Rugby World Cup to be a disaster!
        How can we get rid of this idiot?

  16. Amphibian 16

    “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.”

    Green is the brand of the environmental movement. If you want a left-wing party ask for the “Red Party”. To do otherwise is green wash (and that’s false packaging).

  17. Amphibian 17

    “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.”

    Helen Clark confided “NZ is a deeply racist country and I’m going to do something about it” and she did she opened the doors of our racist little country to the worlds most populous (Asian) country.
    (titter titter).

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