Thar he blows!

Just when we seemed to be working towards a political consensus on the foreshore and seabed, out crawls Winston Peters from his self-imposed political exile:

They are arguing about title. Make no mistake about it they are arguing something separatist. And if that’s the way that New Zealand is to go then our future towards the Third World is certain.

How do you construct a different world view when the mass majority of Maori activists I know have less than a quarter Maori in them and when I know so many Europeans who value the beach for, its shellfish, for its contact with nature and for their love of New Zealand being the way it is.

Of course “they” are arguing about title. That is because title to the foreshore and seabed, or at least the right of hapū to go to Court to establish whether they have title to the foreshore and seabed, is what was extinguished by the Foreshore and Seabed Act. This is about property rights – pure and simple.

Peters’ comments are nothing short of nasty old-fashioned colonial racism of the sort that categorised people of mixed race as sambos, mulattos and quadroons.

Even the National Party appears to have moved on from the days when Don Brash espoused that type of bigotry.

So I guess Winston just couldn’t resist the chance to exploit the vile racist underbelly that still exists in New Zealand society.

Let’s hope New Zealand has grown up somewhat over the last few years, and that the vast majority of New Zealanders want to see him rapidly slither back under the rock from which he’s emerged.

Greens welcome Winston on board

Green Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman today welcomed Winston Peters’ decision to join the Green Party, saying it will help the Greens to broaden their voter support base.

“Over four percent of voters at the last election voted for New Zealand First,” Dr Norman said. “I am confident that a large proportion of those voters will now give their support to the Greens. It is an unexpected and very real bonus for us, and may finally give us the chance to break through 10%.

“The Greens have never managed to appeal to the redneck vote,” said Dr Norman. “David Garrett has proven with ACT just how electorally valuable having a drunken bigot among the senior ranks of a political party can be. Winston will now be able to perform a similar role for us.”

The Greens are also considering changing their Constitution so Peters can succeed Jeanette Fitzsimons as Co-Leader when she steps down at the Party’s Annual General Meeting on Queen’s Birthday weekend.

“Having two male Co-Leaders would help dispel the perception that we are too pro-feminist. We’re never going to get the blokes’ votes with that image,” Dr Norman said.

“Of course Winston would be Co-Leader outside Parliament like I was when I was first elected. But he has immense expertise in fundraising and managing electoral donations and already has a strong relationship with the media, so working as Co-Leader outside Parliament should be easier for him than it was for me.”

Can the left be allowed to choose a new spokesperson please?

For some bizarre reason the political left (which for clarity’s sake definitely includes me, and many of the Green Party’s policies but not necessarily the Green Party as a whole*) has spent the better part of a decade lumped with Chris Trotter as its media spokesperson.  When comment is needed from a left wing perspective he is inevitably rolled out by the media to give some pompous talk about the 1950s wharfie strike and its relationship to British social democratic theory in the later part of the 18th century.

Left wing thought has long since moved on incorporating democratic, feminist, anti racist and environmental strands to it’s philosophy, and leaving Trotter to his historical reminiscences. (I should be clear that I don’t think that Trotter is racist, sexist or anti-democratic – just dated). While Trotter was speaking to the NZ First conference in 2001 assuring Peters and his cohorts that they were the victims of pretentious snobbery by a Wellington political elite, the rest of us recognised that no matter how economically left-leaning Peters’ rhetoric was, his campaigns were a nasty influence on New Zealand politics. And things haven’t changed. Not changed, that is, except that Peters got caught.

Today Trotter is attacking the Maori Party and the Greens because we did not blindly defend Peters from his accusers, the same way Labour did:

The level of discomfort in the Greens and the Maori Party can only be imagined.

To find yourself patted on the head by the right-wing news media for playing the role assigned to you so well.

To hear yourself praised by National and Act for your sturdy ”independence” and staunch “neutrality” (while they laugh in their sleeves at your naivete, and noisily celebrate the triumph of their own utterly ruthless partisanship).

So, with all that in mind, please can we have a new media spokesperson.

*Blah, blah, neither left nor right, but out in front, blah, blah…

Can Labour change its spots?

Toad has been having more than a few laughs at the expense of National and it’s increasingly directionless campaign. However, from my perspective we need to be worrying far more about Labour.

We’ve always known when it comes to beneficiaries, children’s rights and human rights Labour will instinctively align itself with the reactionary base of its voters rather than its liberal corner.  On the three biggest environmental issues of the last decade (climate change, water quality and sustainable food production) Labour’s governance has made things worse rather than better in each case.

And now, in recent weeks with the Winston Peters debacle we are getting an indication of the lengths Labour will go to, not just to retain power but to protect a coalition partner that allows it to justify those reactionary votes on important social and environmental matters.  None of this seems to sit well with the Greens’ democracy and governance principle, but it also shows where Labour’s heart is likely to lie after the election.

The Greens have said that we will announce before the election which party or parties we will be willing to work with after the election, including possibly entering governing arrangements of some sort.  This is the right thing to do.  But it means we will negotiate in good faith when no one else is offering to.

Barring a cataclysmic shift in political power before polling day the Greens will not be the dominant player in any negotiations and compromise will occur. That’s fair and democratic – especially as Green members will get a chance to vote on the deal before it is signed. With National it’s easy to predict what those possible compromises might be. With Labour not so much. Labour’s too greasy to trust and its record on so many things that are important to us is appalling.

It’s going to have to do something special to show that it’s not the Dunne/Peters Labour we have come to know. I personally don’t believe it can do it.

Well said, Jeanette!

Jeanette Fitzsimons blogged this morning on frogblog about the preoccupation of the media with what Winston Peters may have said and done.

The tragedy is that this is what passes for news, when we ought to be debating what is happening to our economy with rising prices for food, petrol, power and mortgages at the same time as economic contraction and loss of jobs? Shouldn’t we be debating the causes of this, and linking them with peak oil, resource limits and climate change? Most of all, shouldn’t we be debating what to do about it?

It’s not just the MSM – over on Key wee-blog David Farrar has devoted an extraordinary 34 separate threads in the past week to various aspects of Peters’ alleged behaviour, and what others have said and done in response to it.

Now, I’m not suggesting the allegations against Peters are not serious. They are. But they are being investigated by both the Serious Fraud Office and Parliament’s Privileges Committee, and all will come out in due course.

In a week when we saw Labour announce its Emissions Trading Scheme will go ahead and National announce it would be supporting tolls on roads, I would have thought both the MSM and bloggers might have been giving these issues some more attention.

Will the Government’s ETS be effective in reducing greenhouse emissions? Are the transport and agriculture sectors being brought into it too slow or too fast? Will people on low income be adequately protected against emitters passing on the cost of their emissions?

What roads will is National proposing to toll? Whose policy is the real one – Maurice Williamson’s or Bill English’s? How much will the toll charges be? What will the revenue be applied to – public transport infrastructure, or just more and more roads?

These are the real questions people should be asking in deciding how to cast their votes in an election that is less only 10 weeks away? Peters’ credibility is already close to zero – so let’s focus on the policies.