Why Labour stabbed Metiria in one of the best political assassinations in memory

fraud metiria turei

Rob Hosking has realised why it was that Labour put a huge effort into stabbing Metiria Turei with their Green on Red hit job.

Quite simply they were hurting Labour badly.

The Green Party was, since early last year, moving in a direction to make itself more acceptable to the mainstream.

There was a nice photoshoot on the cover of North & South, a magazine very much aimed at the well-heeled end of middle New Zealand. Last year co-leader Metiria Turei – a radical Maori woman, and, being so, the scariest face of the Greens for a chunk of mainstream New Zealand – suggested the Treasury independently cost the policies of all the political parties at this year’s election.

You don’t get much more establishment than asking the Treasury to run an eye over your numbers – for all that Ms Turei and her party knew very well there was no risk at all of the government agreeing to the idea.

But, as noted here a few weeks back, all that work in making the Greens look safe and non-threatening and as mainstream as possible was undone by Ms Turei’s declaration of benefit fraud she had committed back in the 1990s.

Ms Turei has always been more comfortable with that side of the Green movement. Her maiden speech was a declaration of insurgency: quoting radical Marxist academic Noam Chomsky about western societies being in “a cage” and also that the New Zealand state has no legitimacy.

Her confession of benefit fraud was a move to re-connect the Greens with their radical roots – and, one suspects, for Ms Turei, a bid to forestall any risk to her self-image that might be posed by the threat of becoming a cabinet minister.

But, executed as it was as the Greens were in the process of making themselves look unthreatening and not challenging middle New Zealand too much, it was a large political risk.

It was – make no mistake about this – a calculated political move.

It might have worked if Ms Turei had paid the money back when she was a lawyer at one of the country’s top law firms and could certainly afford to do so.

For a fraction of time, it looked as if it might have worked. Three polls saw the Greens surge in popularity – and the Labour vote subside further.

But Labour’s response was sudden and, surprisingly, ruthlessly focused, dumping Andrew Little as leader and putting celebrity politician Jacinda Ardern in his place.

Suddenly, all that support looks like rushing back to Labour in a surge of Jacinda-mania.

And the Greens are left looking scary again.

And that won’t go away.

Labour may have gassed the Greens, but they’ve possibly gassed themselves in the process.

I, unwittingly may have assisted Labour by publishing the image repeatedly that is at the top of this post.

 

-NBR

 


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