Right now you and I are witnessing one of the nastiest things ever seen in our political landscape, and that’s a fairly hefty call to make.
I am referring to the personal attacks on Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. In addition her partner Clarke Gayford got a real good working over as well. Now, I am not referring to the comments about Jacinda made by departing MP Louisa Wall, because quite simply that’s rhetoric disguised as fact.
These past weeks have seen Ardern’s face being superimposed on some rather distasteful material along with constant disparaging comments on social media, plus there’s that nutter who was arrested for threatening to kill her. What’s going on is not just unbecoming, it’s actually very ugly, horrible and nasty, irrespective of whether you like her politics or not. It is also the first time I’ve seen a partner dragged into the mudslinging as much as Clarke.
I am the vice president of Te Pāti Māori and come the next election, the only place we can get votes from is Labour. However we will win votes because of our unfettered, unapologetic policy programme. We will win vote contesting ideas not personalities.
In my world of politics what I say is fact based, it is not born from speculation. But where the doubters try and get you is on the veracity of whether your approach will work. You can say this type of behaviour is justified if it was more specific, targeting issues like the slow response of the police or the high cost of living right now.
I’ll dissect the former for transparency. The elevated cost of living is happening right around the world and if it was solely Jacinda Ardern’s responsibility, I would get that. But there is more to it. Firstly, supply chain disruption. Secondly, productivity chain disruption in regard to workplaces around the world trying to come back online. And thirdly, and most importantly, you have filthy, rotten gouging going on similar to what is happening right now with the gib board shortage. Clearly none of these factors can be attributed directly to the PM of the day. Thus the type of negative behaviour currently aimed at the Prime Minister is not about policy it is about her as a person. These guys are speculating against her personality and postulating on her character and even worse, that of her partner without any proof to back it up.
They are getting critical of her because for the first time in their lives a Government is saying no to tax cuts and redistributing wealth in terms of the minimum wage and benefit uplift. Most unsettling is that for the first time in 50 years they could not escape a government mandate which limited their freedom of travel, so the annual European summer holiday disappeared. We all give up our civil liberties. The well off that are flooding the National and ACT party war chests in a non election year is telling. It’s about privilege, entitlement and always getting my way because I can buy it.
Eventually the trolls will be muted once they sense a win which is to get rid of Jacinda. They’ll get their tax cuts, control the water assets and continue the duopoly in construction, banking, electricity, cartel in grocery and other select industries. This is the only Government that has instigated inquires to question them and it’s making them nervous on their well padded high horses.
Jacinda has a number of sympathetic folk but it seems to me they have gone into bunker mentality hoping this will blow over. Nevertheless, it comes down to the type of political discourse we want as we continue our ever evolving nationhood story. Discuss the contest of ideas not the contest of personalities. Hold the PM to account, but quit the character assassination.
John Tamihere is a former Labour Cabinet Minister and Chief Executive of Whānau Ora and West Auckland Urban Māori organisation Te Whānau o Waipareira.