Hooton on Turei’s scheming and fraud

Matthew Hooton has a different slant on Metiria Turei’s fraud:

Ms Turei’s provocative remarks could only benefit her politically if they polarised the public.

Ms Turei, remember, is not seeking the approval of the majority and certainly not of establishment figures such as Ms Bennett and Mr Peters. The Greens’ target for the election is 15% and one way of achieving that is by positioning themselves as the victim of the venom of the other 85%.

Private pollsters report the initial response to Ms Turei’s comments was unfavourable to the Greens, with an immediate small loss to them and their Labour allies and a gain for Mr Peters.

Ms Turei, though, knew what she was doing.

I note that Hooton doesn’t say by how much they dropped and who got hurt the most. If my sources are correct, the Greens lost a little bit, but Labour lost a lot. The recipient of this lost vote was Winston Peters, and again my sources tell me that Labour are alarmed at the inroads that Peters is gaining.

In the following days, what started out being positioned as a guilty admission of a fraud necessary to prevent her child from starving evolved into a more brazen claim that she and beneficiaries like her should be entitled not to work, not to make any personal disclosures about their circumstances to the authorities, and to be financially secure and have fun while living on welfare.

Because the then Bolger government did not provide a welfare system meeting these tests, Ms Turei believes she was justified to lie, cheat and steal from the community. This is despite her receiving significant help from her own family and from the family of her daughter’s father, who were high-income earners.

But Ms Turei was not finished. Even after Bill English reversed Ruth Richardson’s December 1990 benefit cuts in his 2015 budget, after nine years of Helen Clark holding the line, Ms Turei continues to publicly condone welfare fraud to the extent of saying she will not report those she knows are cheating the system today.

She does not say, as a former candidate for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, if she would similarly condone a beneficiary setting up a tinnie house to help make ends meet. She also has no advice for small business owners faced with the choice of paying their provisional tax or having some fun.

All this may have done the trick. By midweek, private pollsters were reporting the Greens had started recovering at Labour’s cost, while Mr Peters continued to gain at both Labour and National’s expense.

This is why Ms Turei’s strategy makes sense.

To be fair, the Greens have a lower base. It is Labour that is haemorrhaging support, and they know it. Earlier in the week, Little was ok with Turei being in cabinet, yet yesterday morning Jacinda Ardern was expressing some doubt about that and starting Labour’s walk back from endorsing the fraud of Turei. Ardern was of course then the target of the hateful Greens on Twitter for daring to besmirch Saint Metiria.

As I wrote less than a month ago, the Greens’ Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and fiscal responsibility pact with Labour were rendering the party irrelevant leading into the election campaign.

Worse, Green strategists were increasingly alarmed that the party was being dragged down by Mr Little’s hapless lot. With polling trends suggesting a growing likelihood Labour and NZ First will converge at about 20% each on election day, there is absolutely no possibility of a Labour-Green government and therefore no value in the Greens’ ongoing fealty to the MoU. Ms Turei and the Greens needed to break out on their own.

Ms Turei has well and truly achieved that over the last week. Even Mr Little has now moved to condemn her and Mr English has toughened National’s line.

Labour knows they are hurting which is why they are approaching me to continue to hit Turei, hard. They want her politically destroyed. She is hurting their vote, not the Greens.

But, in the eyes of current and potential Green voters, Mr Little and Mr English are merely middle-aged white men, the most detested category in the polity. Like the sickly white liberals and so-called Maori separatists who attacked Dr Brash after his Orewa speech, the condemnation of middle-aged white men is exactly what Ms Turei wants.

Note, Ms Turei is not looking for votes in poor disadvantaged areas such as Manurewa, Mangere and Manukau East, where the Greens are hopelessly weak and where welfare fraud is most condemned by people who do manage to get by. She is looking for more support in the wealthy Greens strongholds of central Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch where no one has met a beneficiary and can’t imagine how they survive.

The early indications are she is now getting it. And, remember, no matter how hard left her rhetoric is now, nothing she says before the election is a barrier to the Greens doing a deal even with National afterward. After all, Dr Brash, remember, came close to forming a government with the Maori Party in 2005.

The next public polls will determine if Hooton’s hypothesis is right or wrong.

 

-NBR


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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