David Shearer declared that he was upset about a guy in the street who was a beneficiary who was up on his roof painting. All hell broke loose across the left and the right of the political spectrum. The left wing demanded that David Shearer stop bashing beneficiaries and the right wing demanded David Shearer produce this hapless beneficiary to prove he wasn’t made up.
David Shearer was onÂ BFM this morningÂ running his spin on Labour’s policies that involve huge new spending and hefty new Â taxes.
But at the end of the interview Shearer talks about “a guy he met on Friday”…I’ll bet he is as real as Rufus Paynter, the Diddler on the Roof.
Jane Clifton rips out perhaps the best line yet for David Shearer’s now infamous Rufus Paynter:
Leader David Shearer is growing to deserve the doom-laden epithet: hapless. Trying valiantly to reposition Labour as being pro-work in the context of the welfare entitlement debate, he again muffed his lines, to create a now deathless meme most usefully subtitled Diddler on the Roof. He began a speech describing a sickness beneficiary who, according to his neighbour, was hoofing up and down quite ably fixing his roof. Shearer said, one would have thought quite reasonably, that he, too, opposed people claiming benefits illicitly. From the response of the left Twittering classes, youâd have thought he had advocated the return of the Poor House and work camps. How dare he question the honesty and deservingness of the man on the roof? But that wasnât the worst of it. A nationwide search seemed to be launched by Shearerâs detractors to find the roofer and give him redress, and Shearer eventually cracked under media interrogation to half-admit â itâs often not clear between the ums and ahs what he is and isnât trying to say â that the anecdote was at least as allegorical as factual. There may or may not have been an actual roofer, and even if there was, Shearer did not ascertain the particulars of his infirmity. Had he made the point that he deplores benefit cheats for the same reason he deplores corporate tax-dodgers, he might have proofed himself against the blizzard of both right- and left-wing scorn.
Karl du Fresne has commented on Shearer’s mythical Rufus Paynter and on Paula Bennett’s move against stoned bennies:
TWO RECENT events show how entrenched the welfarist mindset has become.Labour leader David Shearer was pilloried in the left-wing blogosphere for making a speech in which he made it clear he disapproved of people claiming a benefit when they were fit to work. Yet his attitude is entirely in line with the views of the Labour politicians who created the social welfare system in the 1930s.
They were harshly intolerant of welfare âloafersâ. The colourful public works minister Bob Semple, a former union leader, is said to have once thundered in biblical tones: âHe who shall not work, neither shall he eat.â
That Mr Shearer was condemned within his own party shows how the entitlement mindset has distorted attitudes to the point where dependency on the taxpayer is viewed as a valid lifestyle choice.
More recently, the governmentâs proposal to drug-test beneficiaries has been condemned, predictably,Â as beneficiary-bashing. But if the state is going to pay people the unemployment benefit, itâs only fair that the recipients demonstrate good faith by being ready and available for work. In many industries, that requires them to be drug-free.
Thereâs a moral dimension here too. Why should law-abiding taxpayers subsidise the illegal drug habits of the unemployed?
The governmentâs advisers did their best to find reasons why drug-testing shouldnât be mandatory, but the public is capable of cutting through all the equivocation. When a poll on TVNZâsÂ CloseUpÂ asked whether beneficiaries who refuse a drug test should have their benefit cut, 90 per cent of the 16,000 respondents voted yes.
Oh no, if David Cunliffe was grinning yesterday it had nothing to do with voting for marriage equality. Â It was the giant sword in his hand that he is deciding now what to do with.
The “man on the roof” Rufus Paynter does not actually exist. Â We all know it so does non-VRWC blogger and tweeter Giovanni Tiso. Â David Shearer has been cornered on the topic again this time by Radio One and admits to not actually caring if Rufus is real,it was just agh…..ergh……Â how “New Zealanders feel about fairness”.
Shearer:Â Yeah, yeah, I was going around the streets before the last election, knocked on a guy’s door, he walked out on the lawn with me and pointed over and said this guy supposedly – I think he said he had a bad back or a bad something or other – and the point was, I mean, wasn’t actually… whether this guy was right or not I don’t know, but the point is, what I was trying to make is the point about fairness and the way New Zealanders feel about fairness. They don’t want… this guy in particular said look I’m working hard, I pay my taxes, I’m doing all the right things and this guy – in his opinion, and that’s what I said in my thing – is ripping the system off. Now I don’t care if you’re a millionaire not paying his taxes or somebody on the benefit who shouldn’t be getting one. The way that New Zealanders see that is that it’s not fair when somebody is not doing the right thing. That’s the point of what I was saying.Â
The interviewer kept at him
Hawkins:Â So you don’t know if it’s true, at no point did you go talk to the beneficiary in question?Â
Shearer:No, the point was Aaron – the point was how people perceive others not playing by the rules, that’s all I was saying. So I mean that’s a story – the account of this guy, if what he was telling me is true, but I didn’t do a police investigation on somebody, but the point was how do people perceive others, and I think overwhelmingly in New Zealand we don’t like people who are not playing by the rules, in a senseÂ notÂ adhering to what I call the social contract.
And Shearer keeps digging, not a political platform? Hello.
Hawkins:Â I don’t think it’s the equivalent of a police enquiry to simply fact-check an anecdote that you are going to turn into a political platform.
Shearer:It’s not a political platform, the whole point of it as I keep saying to you is illustrating how people feel about others. That was all it was saying. It was somebody relating something to me and I was relating that on. It is about how people feel about others not playing by the rules. And we have a very highly developed sense for that in New Zealand, for good or for bad, and I actually think it’s good. But what does happen is that if people have that perception it means that everybody who legitimately receives a benefit – and overwhelmingly New Zealanders support that as well – they actually get tarred with the same brush. It’s really important that we make sure that the system works well and that people have confidence in it.
And the final hit
Hawkins:Â Isn’t that what Paula Bennett was doing, using a couple of examples of people not playing by the rules and not playing fairly within the welfare system to show up its flaws?
Labour caucus will be interesting. Â So will
The Standard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog if they have not been muzzledÂ spoken to by Trevor Mallard. Â A man who last week admitted to being a roofist.
I still have my doubts even about the neighbour. Â Shearer thinks it is okay to pass on anecdotes about beneficiaries without fact checking them. Can we make up more anecdotes for Shearer to pass on to rile up audiences? Â At least Paula Bennett fact checked the beneficiaries in question against the files in her case. Â And Shearer accused Bennett of “dog whistling” with drug testing beneficiaries.
Wonder what the neighbour thought of drug testing Rufus Paynter?
He would have thought it was a great idea.
Perhaps that is an anecdote Paula Bennett can now use, you know, because it is all about “the way New Zealanders feel about fairness”. And they do not think it is fair to pay Rufus Paynter from their taxes to smoke weed while he is up there “a bad back or a bad something or other”, painting the roof.
You know there are some things in life you never think you will do. Â Climb Everest is one, swim the Cook Strait is another. Â But I really never thought I would:
- Defend Trevor Mallard.
Yesterday Trevor SMOGGED out badly in probably his worst gaffe to date since entering into the
asymmetrical war cycle race with myself.Â As a Labour Member of Parliament, the week after the Rufus Paynter affair while it is all a wee bit tense in the caucus and among the louder membership he posted this on this Facebook and tweeted to his loyal and faithful supporters:
Now to most of us on the right it is common sense. Â We all agree and would share it on our Facebook wall in a second if our local MP posted it. Â It is the most honest thing Trevor has ever put his name to. Â He doesn’t like beneficiary bludgers any more than his colleagues from 1984, Sir Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble.
Trevor Mallard yesterday was a) a realist, b) a pragmatist and c) a brave endangered soul speaking truth to power. Â Mallard is a “roofist”.Â He believes Rufus Paynter is real and is actually a sickness beneficiary up on that roof rorting the system when he should be working.
But for a Labour MP the above constitutes beneficiary bashing to the general (declining) Labour membership. Â It is demanded that you keep quiet if you are a roofist. Â Rufus Paynter is not real and even if he was he is a legitimate beneficiary who needs more support.
Dare to question there are people refusing to work who are able to are the Labour “roofists”. Â This is why it is such a bad SMOG. Â Roofism splits in two his own membership and people in his electorate. Â One that doesn’t exactly represent the “right end” of the country in employment and income statistics. Â They let him have it and he deleted the post and tweet. Â This then spewed out on to Newstalk ZB and over the news bulletins. Â At this point even I was feeling sorry for Trevor. Â Especially after David Cunliffe’s very obvious warning shots yesterday.
And this from Mickey Savage
This from some random Labour member
Thing is, these were the polite responses. Over at
The Strandard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog all the Camp Cunliffe team were continuing their now ritual at least weekly flogging of Trevor.
I am getting pretty pissed off.
Ritual blog floggings of Trevor Mallard are MY job.
I cannot keep up with their level of hate over there. Â It is all consuming. Â I cannot hate Trevor Mallard as much as
The StrandardÂ Lynn Prentice’s hate blog. Â They hate the man more than anyone in the National Party except Paula Bennett and Crusher. Â I think even a random poll of Camp Cunliffe members would find John Key more popular than Trevor Mallard. Â They blame him for everything that is wrong in the Labour Party. Â The polling, the strategy and what Duncan Garner writes. Â What do they thing he is? The Leader?
Even I do not believe Trevor is drunk when he posts or a fatty calcified deposit on the arteries of the left.
So shame on Trevor Mallard, it is our job in the centre and far right to question why beneficiaries keep being paid for not working and questioning their “entitlements”. Â The left cannot comment unless it is sympathy and the promise of a larger payday. Â Even if your Leader agrees and is a Chief Roofist.
And shame on
The Standard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog and Camp Cunliffe.
It is MY job to bash Trevor Mallard. Â Know your role.
Bryce EdwardsÂ must believe like the rest of us now that David Shearer made up the “backstory” of the “guy on the roof” as he has compared this mythical character to Joe the Plumber and the Mondeo Man. Â Edwards also reminds us of previous back stories.
New Zealand Labour has (so far): âguy sitting at his kitchen table in West Auckland doing his GST returnâ, âRangitikei truck driverâ, and nowÂ âneighbour of sickness beneficiary painting his roofâ.
David Shearerâs roof painting incarnation broke one of the basic rules of this (quite old and worn) political strategy. The negative attack on beneficiaries was actually audible to all â particularly Labourâs activist base â and as a result it has backfired badly. The neighbour has been forgotten and the focus has gone onto the beneficiary.
And that is where Shearer’s problems started. Â He has created the “guy on the roof” to attack beneficiaries and many are Labour voters. Â The centre vote do not mind holding beneficiaries to account as Paula Bennett has worked out but Labour’s left are running riot. Â When Cactus Kate from the economic far right Â applauded and highlighted the speech ten days ago as not unlike something Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble produced in their prime with ACT, Shearer should have known he would be upsetting his own foot soldier members. Â As represented collectively and in comment threads on The St(r)andard and when Gordon Campbell put the boot in.
Last year before the election, I was chatting to a guy in my electorate who had just got home from work. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and pointed across the road to his neighbour.
Once again I call on a real journalist to do their job and demand Shearer pass details to them so they can interview the specific man that spoke to Shearer and investigate the alleged beneficiary fraudster. Â It is now a matter of Shearer’s credibility as he has reused and recycled this “guy on the roof” for some time now as not a general class of person but an individual, Rufus Paynter.
We all know he cannot breach either the privacy of the neighbour or the “guy on the roof” as it is all a fabrication.