- Date published:
10:04 am, May 20th, 2015 - 274 comments
Categories: making shit up, Media, national, same old national, sexism, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: jonathan coleman, young labour
Sometimes for “fairness” and “balance” on a particularly bad day for the Government the media will try to gotcha Labour MPs into providing a sound bite or a headline which can then be spun into a story of disunity.
Yesterday was one of those days. At a time when John Key’s credibility was on the ropes as he tried to say that a tax change that meant that an increase in capital value is taxed is not a capital gains tax and on a day when the Government’s wrecking of Relationships Aotearoa had become evident elements of the media came up with a new story. Labour supported gender change operations. Such a story has elements of sex and homophobia and feeds into the “Labour activists are completely out of touch” meme so it was bound to run. After all who would even think of funding these sorts of operations?
Young Labour has proposed at different conferences that hormone replacement therapy and gender reassignment surgery are available and publicly funded. This made Health Minister Jonathan Coleman get into a real lather. He could not contain himself as he declared the concept as being “absolutely nuts” and “shows just how disconnected from reality the Labour Party is“. This comment was amended a few hours later to the concept being nutty. I suspect the change of language was because Coleman learned that these operations are already being publicly funded. There is currently a hiatus because the surgeon who used to perform the procedure has retired but these operations have occurred and there is a publicly funded waiting list.
Get that? Labour is being attacked because Labour Youth is proposing proper funding for an operation that is already being conducted and funded by the public health system.
Andrew Little’s response was appropriate. He said that he had not given it a great deal of thought and that he was happy with his gender. He also said that it is a complex issue and not an issue that he would make a policy up on on the hoof. Fair enough.
David Shearer and Stuart Nash walked into the trap. Nash in particular had a rather silly comment belittling the proposal.
Three News has rather breathlessly suggested that it is evidence of division in Labour’s ranks. I was at the Auckland Conference on the weekend and saw no evidence of any division caused by the remit. I was happy to support the proposal and will continue to do so.
This incident reminds me of my own Labour Youth days back in the late 70s and early 80s. Back then we were putting up all sorts of nutty proposals such as homosexual law reform, establishing a nuclear free Aotearoa and ending Apartheid. We used to get the same lectures about how we were being far too radical and our proposals would be electoral poison. With the benefit of hindsight …
Good on Young Labour for raising these issues. May the tradition of Young Labour raising cutting edge contentious issues continue.