Even the left-leaning Tracey Watkins is mildly critical of Labour

Credit: Luke

Things must be bad for Labour. Even the left-leaning Tracey Watkins has written an article that is mildly critical of Labour’s handling of the Labour youth camp debacle.

The headline is, “Jacinda Ardern has political capital to burn but Labour shouldn’t squander it.”

I’m thinking that we don’t really agree on how much capital they actually had to start with. This was not a party elected with a clear majority. Any “capital” they have has been raised on the back of photo shoots in ‘Vogue’, visiting non-charter schools and kindergartens, and scattering vast amounts of money around the Pacific Islands like it was a lolly scramble. Lots of empty conversations that sound like a lot, but mean that nothing is actually done.

[…] If crisis management is how we judge our prime ministers Ardern’s handling of Labour’s Waihi camp scandal is text book.

Textbook obfuscation.

She has apologised to the young people involved, acknowledged Labour’s failure of care and put a process in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Far too little, far too late. So much damage has been done by the cover-up. Then they tried to cover up the cover-up with more deception, saying it was about the victims.

But she has had to burn up some of her precious political capital making up for the party’s shambolic response to allegations that four young people were sexually assaulted during the boozy Young Labour event. […]

You bet she has! That sort of burn rate will be doing our carbon emissions no good at all.

Now Tracey tries to justify and excuse the three weeks of doing nothing.

[…] The sex-pest behaviour complained of was a young man sticking his hands down the pants of at least four attendees, both male and female.

The Labour general secretary and party president were made aware of the behaviour and the young man was sent home.

But the initial attitude of the senior rank and file appears to have been that it was a just boozy party that got out of hand.

That was borne out by Kirton’s comments about the embarrassment of the alleged perpetrator seemingly once he had sobered up.

That attitude explains the weeks of inaction that followed, which have only fed the perception of a cover-up and given the story time to brew in social media and among the ranks of Young Labour activists.

Among the stories doing the rounds is one that Ardern has had to deny repeatedly, that it was the son of a senior MP or cabinet minister.

That’s just the sort of story that starts to swirl in the fertile ground created by perceptions of a cover-up.

That’s the second time in just three sentences she’s used the phrase “perceptions of a cover-up”.  As has been said before on Whaleoil, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

That’s one reason why Labour should have acted immediately on the allegations rather than sit on them for weeks.

The bigger failing, of course, was letting down the young people in its care by its failure to act.

But there is a political price to pay for that, as well as a personal one.

Labour might think it can keep calling on the bank of Jacinda Ardern. But her political capital will not be limitless – and it wants to be careful it doesn’t squander it just because it can.

She’s been pretty bold: assuming that Labour were competent enough to consider whether they had capital in the bank before they decided to fritter it all away on lies and deception.


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