Claire Trevett cuts loose, but valiantly tries to protect Jacinda

Credit: Luke

Have a heart for Claire Trevett. Her beloved red team is in so much trouble she had to write a hard-hitting piece about the cock-ups underway inside Labour.

She tries valiantly to blame everyone but Jacinda Ardern.

In a well-functioning beehive, the Queen Bee sits there being fed and cleaned while the worker bees act as bodyguards, if necessary committing acts of self-sacrifice in order to save the hive and the queen.

In the case of Wellington’s Beehive the worker bees have been somewhat clumsy about that job as the story of a 20-year-old who allegedly indecently sexually assaulted at least three others at Young Labour’s summer camp rolls on.

The most astonishing factor in the chain of events after that night on February 10 was that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not told until it was raised with her by the media on Monday – a month after the event.

If you believe that Claire, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Watch her press conference after cabinet again and take off your rose-tinted glasses. She lets the cat out of the bag in her very first answer, then quickly attempts to recover. Later she talks about what she has instructed Andrew Kirton to do. How could that be if she only first heard about it five minutes before?

Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton has said the only reason for alerting Ardern would have been for “political management” reasons, not helping the victims.

He argued that for the sake of those affected it was decided to keep the circle as tight as possible – and that meant not telling Ardern.

Political management is the very reason Ardern should have been told.

There were 60 people at the camp who knew what had gone on. That isn’t a tight circle; that is positively massive, as Labour are now finding out as the attendees start spilling their guts.

When it comes to issues such as sexual misconduct and harassment, Ardern has long taken a strong stand on such matters.

Straight after Labour’s Summer School, Newsroom broke a series of stories about alleged sexual harassment and drunken, inappropriate behaviour at law firm Russell McVeagh.

That was on February 14 – four days after the night in question and the same day Kirton was brought into the loop by Young Labour.

Ardern was predictably asked about those events. Oblivious to what had happened at Young Labour’s summer camp, she said it was “entirely appropriate” the company reviewed its processes on the basis of the behaviour reported.

“I think every member of the public would have an expectation after seeing some of those stories that those firms undertake their own internal process to respond to what are some significant allegations.”

It is a bit rich to be lecturing others on sexual harassment policies when it is happening in your own nest. The word hypocrisy might even pop up.

It just goes to show how tone-deaf Andrew Kirton was to all this. He was dealing with it while his leader and Justice Minister were concern-trolling over Russell McVeagh. Why he hasn’t been sacked I’ll never know.

It pays to consider how it would look to you if the same thing happened to your rival.

Had this been the National Party’s youth arm, the Young Nats, it’s a fair call fire and brimstone would now be piling upon National’s hierarchy from Labour.

Uh huh. And the media would be piling in far harder than they are on Labour right now.

Had Ardern been told it is almost certain it would have been handled better for she would have ensured that was the case.

Once she knew, Ardern could not credibly distance herself from it as a party matter rather than one for her, or leave it to the party officials to tidy things up.

Hence the queen is now in charge of cleaning up the worker bees’ mess.

And what a mess it is.

Her first response after two days was to ban fun – all Young Labour events have been suspended, Ardern is taking up her own advice to Russell McVeagh and calling in a lawyer to review what happened, and there will be no more alcohol at Labour Party events if anyone there is under 18.

It may have been accidental, but the worker bees have done their job because “political management” was also the only reason not to tell Ardern.

Her lack of knowledge now means she does not carry the blame for the initial clumsy handling of it.

Ardern is also free from any claims of a cover-up.

Cough, cough, bullshit.

It is Andrew Kirton who is the worker bee paying the price for his Queen. He fronted on it and it was he who dealt with – or at least made the decision to let Young Labour deal with it without sufficient oversight – after the event.

It is not the first time Kirton has tried to clean up an almighty mess in Labour – there was also the foreign interns scheme last year organised by former chief of staff Matt McCarten which was disbanded after complaints about the living conditions and programme.

There too the required oversight from the party officials was missing. Kirton later said it was “not a good look.” In this instance he has said “we could have done better”.

When the proverbial hits the fan Labour suddenly find themselves having to rapidly segment their organisation in order to blame a lesser unit. They did it with McCarten and now they are blaming Young Labour despite the fact that Andrew Kirton was at Waitawheta… along with several MPs.

Kirton is well-regarded in Labour and has ambitions to stand for Parliament himself, likely in 2020. Leaving him to face all the music means that may now be in question.

Nonetheless, Brand Jacinda remains unsullied.

Not anymore she’s not. The international headlines all use photos of her, now there are more scandals emerging, she’s the leader who has to front and the Labour party and her name are all used in articles that also include the words sexual assault, rape crisis etc.

That does not make for a good brand no matter how loyal your followers are.

When radio guests label your party the Weinstein Party and it takes you a month to do anything, and only then because the media are asking questions, then you are screwed. This is not the equivalent of ponytail pulling as some in Labour are trying to claim, nor of some drunken fumble. It is a serious multiple sexual assault.

Now start acting like grown-ups; the fairy tale is over.


-NZ Herald

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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.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.