Weapons-grade Smug

This look, yes this look, is the look of a smug, self confessed, fraudster

Karl du Fresne finds himself writing about Me Tu against his own will

I think most people are prepared to forgive politicians for things they did when they were a lot younger and prone to bad judgments. But I don’t think it was Turei’s admission of benefit fraud that turned people against her.

What repelled many people was the air of sanctimony that accompanied her confession, as if she had done something noble and virtuous.

People noted that she made this declaration a few weeks out from the election. She said she did it to start a conversation about welfare, but it looked like a calculated play for votes: a dog-whistle. Turei may have been hoping to tap into that same tranche of disenchanted young non-voters that came out behind Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the United States.

Without the help of Nicky Hager this election, the Greens needed a plan and they needed it quick.  Problem was, this time they couldn’t keep their hands clean in the process.  

Sure enough, other facts began to emerge: first a wrong address on the electoral roll and then the rather inconvenient fact that the father of her child was listed as living at the same property – a bad look when she had claimed the DPB. It even turned out her mother had been one of her flatmates while she was defrauding Work and Income by not revealing income from other people in the house.

The cumulative effect was that Turei was soon looking less like a heroic crusader and more like someone who had sneakily gamed the system for her own benefit.

The public was entitled to wonder what else might be in her past. But more crucially, it was entitled to form a judgment about her character.

Then came what seemed a climactic meltdown, when two respected senior Green MPs decided they could no longer, in conscience, share the same party ticket with her.

That exposed a nasty side of the Greens that the public hadn’t previously glimpsed. The recriminations were vicious until co-leader James Shaw pulled back from a vow to expel the two.

Shaw said he changed his mind after getting some sleep. I suspect the truth is that he realised how bad it looked for the Greens – who want everyone to think of them as a kind, gentle party that eschews bitchy politics – to be indulging in vengeful Stalinist bloodletting.

But by then it was too late. The damage was done.

And now Turei herself has gone, amid a nauseating display of self-pity and self-justification. “I wish I hadn’t had to do this,” she whimpered to a sympathetic John Campbell.

Well, she started it, and she should suck it up.

There’s irony on a Shakespearean scale in the fact that just when the Greens had high hopes of finally getting their feet under the cabinet table, the party has been brought crashing down by one woman’s hubris.

The odd thing is that all of us expected the Greens to throw Metiria under the bus.  Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics:  NEVER hug a (political) corpse.

It is this stupendous lack of political judgement that could see the Greens go from being seriously in the running at finally being able to co-govern to now having to fight to survive as a party.

And as Karl points out:  all because of one woman’s hubris.

Idiots.  The lot of them.

 

Karl du Fresne

 


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