The Dim-Post

November 29, 2009

Orewa-lite reax

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:52 am

Gordon Campbell sees the realpolitik but also feels politicians should be able to talk about racial issues and critique the Maori Party without being accused of racism:

Goff is not politically naïve. He knows he is playing to a gallery that includes racists, and that Labour can expect to reap a political advantage from that quarter. Yet the issues he was raising in Palmerston North were also substantive, and not reducible to mere dogwhistling to rednecks. Given the nature of the deal done between National and the Maori Party in Parliament this week over the ETS, he was in something of a ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’ situation when it came to mounting an attack on it. Calling the deal ‘ shabby’ and opposing its benefits to particular Maori tribes ( and large iwi corporations) at the taxpayer’s expense is not playing the race card. It is more like truth in labeling.

My feeling is that race is an important issue, and the Maori Party should not be immune from criticism. But we have to accept that race is also a sensitive issue and that politicians like Peters and Brash have exploited it in the past. So when Goff gives a speech about race he needs to signal that they he does so in good faith, not to get a boost in the polls. Don Brash’s Orewa address is the most notorious instance of race-baiting in our recent political history, and Goff gave his speech the same title, the same themes and delivered it to the same demographic. I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s not acting in good faith, even if he does make some valid points along the way. Brash also made some arguments about self-determination and equality under the law that were totally appropriate for a right-wing politician to make, it didn’t absolve him and it doesn’t wash Goff’s hands clean either.

Matt McCarten is too jaded to be angry:

Goff’s reneging on his party’s earlier support for a repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act is totally cynical and intended to whip up Pakeha New Zealanders. It’s the space that Winston Peters used to occupy. Goff and his advisers clearly believe they can close the gap with National with this desperate and, in my opinion, covertly racist strategy. It worked a treat for Don Brash and Goff no doubt hopes it’ll work the same magic for him.

Over at RedAlert, Clare Curran and Grant Robertson shill for their leader and insist that we listen to what Goff had to say. Eddie at The Standard did listen; he pours on the contempt:

I just can’t believe that Goff and his advisers didn’t know what they were doing with this speech. And in doing so they’ve alienated much of the left and done huge damage to Labour’s relationship with Maori. To much of the rest of the electorate he just looks desperate.

It’s possible that Goff might have won over some of the iwi/kiwi racists with the speech, he might even see a poll bounce (though nothing that would compare favourably with Brash’s 17%) – but even if it works, is this any basis on which to build a sustainable progressive alternative?

Goff’s speech was stupid and wrong on so many levels. We deserve better than this.

I haven’t read any right-wing analysis of Goff: the Nats decided not to give him the dignity of a serious response, right-wing commentators have largely followed this lead. John Armstrong (as usual) regurgitates publicly what  National Party strategists are saying in private:

National is not going to make Harawira’s mistake of giving Goff the attention he craves by accusing him of being a racist. John Key instead portrayed Goff’s speech as the work of a struggling politician desperately in search of a headline.

By not engaging with him, National is seeking to deprive Goff of oxygen, thereby forcing him to take even more extreme positions.

At least someone is happy: Chris Trotter is predictably rapt with Goff’s pivot and crows that the Labour Party has abandoned liberalism. Well, that depends on what happens in the polls over the next few weeks. Even if this gamble pays off the party is still broadly liberal, this is just a sign that it’s prepared to compromise those values.

Trotter sees events through the prism of his Marxist-Leninist worldview in which liberal values signify counter-revolutionary false-conciousness; he’s too stupid to understand that nobody in Labour shares his vision for New Zealand of a classless workers state ruled by a revolutionary vanguard. As far as I can tell, Labour’s only vision for New Zealand is that we should be a country governed by the Labour Party.

Goff is not politically naïve. He knows he is playing to a gallery that includes racists, and that Labour can expect to reap a political advantage from that quarter. Yet the issues he was raising in Palmerston North were also substantive, and not reducible to mere dogwhistling to rednecks. Given the nature of the deal done between National and the Maori Party in Parliament this week over the ETS, he was in something of a ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’ situation when it came to mounting an attack on it. Calling the deal ‘ shabby’ and opposing its benefits to particular Maori tribes ( and large iwi corporations) at the taxpayer’s expense is not playing the race card. It is more like truth in labeling.
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23 Comments »

  1. Do you know the meaning of shill. Making it up again I see.

    And what is wrong with Labour Mps on a Labour Party blog connecting to the source text of Goffs speech.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 29, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  2. It is certainly interesting how the Brash Orewa 1 speech has been portrayed as racist. Surely, being opposed to racial separatism is anti-racist. I think we are seeing a bit of rewriting of history here as at the time of that speech Don Brash had massive support. In the largest poll that I saw, of nearly 40,000 people, he scored around 90% support. Even the Labour government ended up agreeing with him as they stopped calling their separatist policy Closing The Gaps; although they didn’t stop the spending until after $250 million had not made one iota of difference.

    As Brash just said publicly what so many were saying privately I think that speech was like a safety valve to a lot of people. It sure wasn’t racist and it was true. Regardless of what the leftie media tried to portray.

    Comment by johnbt — November 29, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

  3. JBT,

    Orewa wasn’t opposed to racial separatism — it was opposed to the crown fulfilling agreements previously undertaken. That only one race could possibly have suffered from the course of action recommended is what made it racist.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 29, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  4. Gee whizz Lew. Are we talking about the same speech?

    Comment by johnbt — November 29, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  5. John, the one in which Brash practically called a halt to honouring the Treaty? Yeah, I think that’s the one.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 29, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  6. Lew, you sure he didn’t simply call a halt to re-honouring the treay?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 30, 2009 @ 11:35 am

  7. CF, the term has no meaning.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 30, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  8. Golly Lew, that’s a good one. He ” practically called a halt to honouring the Treaty “. He didn’t, of course, but “practically” means that you can rewrite history to suit your beliefs. My belief is that he was honouring the Treaty as I consider the intention of the Treaty was “He iwi tahi tatou”, or, we are now one people. Sounds a bit like “one law for all” to me.

    Comment by johnbt — November 30, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

  9. Ah, yes, I remember all those times that the Government confiscated swathes of Pakeha land with dubious legal justification in the 1860s.

    Comment by JD — November 30, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

  10. 1860? Where you alive then, JD?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 30, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  11. Hopefully, JD, you will be standing cheek-by-jowl when Central Plains Water Limited come aknocking to take my “brothers” land to build their irrigation scheme.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 30, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  12. 1860 ? FFS…

    Comment by johnbt — November 30, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  13. JohnBT,

    My belief is that he was honouring the Treaty as I consider the intention of the Treaty was “He iwi tahi tatou”, or, we are now one people.

    Except we’re not. That’s code for “you guys now have to forgive us for all the things our ancestors and our system did wrong to your ancestors, which we now benefit from and you now suffer from”.

    Forgiveness is fine, moving on is great, and the reconciliation process is an important and necessary thing. But it must happen with the consent of all parties. The winning side dictating terms to the losing side is no sort of repair, and will only result in deeper misgivings later.

    Until tau iwi NZ comes to accept that the grievances of tangata whenua are genuine, and take meaningful and sustained steps to repair the rift and make redress for the harm caused, there can only be an imperfect, uneasy sort of truce between the two groups — no matter how much Don Brash or Phil Goff might wish it were otherwise.

    Sounds a bit like “one law for all” to me.

    If only it did mean that. That was all the appellates wanted before the Foreshore and Seabed Act cut their constitutional rights out from under them: their day in court. The irony is that they might now get more than that.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 30, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

  14. Lew, Lew, Lew. You do not believe we are all one people. How sad. It is folk like you who are responsible for any racial disharmony that we suffer in this country.

    Shit happened. Shit happens. Neither I nor anyone else alive today was to blame for what happened so long ago. Only an idiot would continue to relitigate those events. And we have a lot of idiots who want to. Most of them have some sort of financial interest in doing so. Which is why the grievence industry will probably never end.

    Also, perhaps you have forgotten that it was a Labour government that brought about the F & S Act and that Brash opposed that. Is that a bit more rewriting of history Lew ?

    Comment by johnbt — November 30, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  15. John, we manifestly aren’t. That’s why I don’t believe it. In my experience, the only people who think that we are are those who’ve gained from the hereditary property rights, social and economic power structures directly derived from those events.

    Only an idiot, as you say, would continue to perpetuate a state of affairs which leads to disharmony when it could be solved over the course of a generation with sufficient goodwill — and there are plenty such idiots, and all of them have a financial interest in maintaining it thus.

    I most certainly have not forgotten Labour’s position on the foreshore and seabed act, have written very extensively against it, and am highly incensed that they haven’t learned from the idiocy of that approach. And for the record — Brash National opposed it because they thought it too generous, not due to its fundamental flaws as a matter of legal principle.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 30, 2009 @ 8:22 pm

  16. Lew. Brash and Co opposed it because it was a breach of rights. Regardless of race. I must remember to tell my cousins, my friends, the people I work with, the people I socialise with, my grandchildren …. that we are not one people. According to the world of Lew.

    Comment by johnbt — November 30, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  17. John, we’ll be one people when we all feel like we are, or near enough to it. Until then, there’s no use in trying to impose it or pretend things are otherwise. You can’t force consent.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 30, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  18. Well, my ancesters only arrived here in the mid-20th century, so I can hand on heart say that I have no fathers sins to worry about.

    “you guys now have to forgive us for all the things our ancestors and our system did wrong to your ancestors, which we now benefit from and you now suffer from”.

    I know me and my recent ancesters benefit from paying high marginal rates of taxes. I know the tangata whenua suffer from the ravages of benefits and handouts and from the distraction of history. Lew, the man’s point is that some of the righting of these wrongs seems to be duplicated. That’s called taking the piss. The cost $ holds back the country and diverst resources away from settling those claims that are genuinely still outstanding. We are just asking for govts to get some spine and say “fuck off: you got this settled back when”.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 1, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  19. CF, it ain’t you: it’s the crown, who remains bound by the decisions of the crown ‘back when’.

    As to your tax rates and such: you have your recourse through the ballot box, courts and other civic institutions, just as do tangata whenua. The difference is that your ancestors didn’t sign a treaty with the crown saying that you wouldn’t be taxed and such.

    As to things having been settled: the thing ain’t settled until both sides think it’s settled. Perhaps in terms you can grasp, Rand: “forced compliance is not a sanction”.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 1, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  20. “CF, it ain’t you: it’s the crown, who remains bound by the decisions of the crown ‘back when’.”

    Well, this is the point that you can’t seem to understand: The Crown doesn’t have all the assets it needs to settle these claims, so I have to pay.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 1, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

  21. CF, it’s a good thing the crown isn’t being asked to settle all the wrongs, then; only a few fractions of one per cent of them, according to a fairly recent benchmark. I think the crown can stretch to that — especially given that most of the debt, as it were, is being paid, in symbolic intangibles and redress in kind.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 1, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  22. “CF, it’s a good thing the crown isn’t being asked to settle all the wrongs, then”

    Yeah, or I’d feel that I could blame ALL Maori (and their children and childrens’ children) for the small minority that are rapists, child abusers or alcoholics.

    I mean, really, there were some Roman’s that came over and took some of my ancesters land, then some Angles, Jutes and Norman’s did it, too. But I have got over it mostly.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 2, 2009 @ 6:45 am

  23. CF, it’s turtles all the way down. But what I’m talking about isn’t ancient history — it’s pretty recent. It wasn’t undertaken in the time of unfettered swordright, but in the time of treaties and agreements, generally held to be enforceable and which were crucial to civilised conduct between nations (as they remain). That’s what gives rise to the claim: not the wrongdoing itself, but the fact that tangata whenua were given guarantees by a sovereign power that no such wrongdoing would be permitted to occur.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 2, 2009 @ 7:45 pm


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