'NEW ZEALAND'S LEADING LEFT WING COMMENTATOR' (Paul Henry) has said sorry for his disgraceful attack on protest group Real Choice. You may have read the offending column where, among other things, Chris Trotter described Real Choice as parasitical - feeding off the good work of people like Jane Kelsey - and urged his readers to boycott the group. According to Trotter, Real Choice was not representative of the legitimate anti-TPPA movement.
He claimed that Real Group's stated strategy of attempting to blockade Sky City was 'simply delusional' and speculated that Real Choice might of even been a group set up by the police themselves, in order to embarrass the anti-TPPA movement. He provided no evidence for this outrageous claim - that would not of looked out of place on Cameron Slater's Whaleoil blog.
Such was the virulent nature of Trotter's attack that Real Choice itself felt compelled to reply to his smears and allegations. Trotter still did not retract his comments.
A few days later though a contrite Trotter broke his silence. He wrote:
"I also say: Sorry. For my throw-away, and clearly unfounded, suggestion that Real Choice might be a “false flag” operation, I apologise – and my statement is withdrawn unreservedly. No false-flag operation could possibly have out-thought, out-run and out-manoeuvred the Police like Real Choice did yesterday. The Springbok Tour protesters of 1981 could not have done it better."
This apology was written the day after the protest. But, on the day of the protest itself, Trotter could still be heard attacking Real Choice on Radio Live. He concurred with hosts Willie Jackson and Ali Mau and fellow commentator Rodney Hide, that blocking traffic was irresponsible and did nothing to attract public support for the anti-TPPA movement.
But, the very next day, in his blog post, Trotter wrote:
"Yesterday, Real Choice put their bodies on the asphalt of Auckland’s inner-city carriageways, and for several hours they made things stop. In doing so they sent a much-needed reminder to the people who run, to the people who own, this country that it can, if the provocation is great enough, be prevented from working. No one has indicated that to them for a very long time."
So, long after the people have gone home, Trotter declares the Real Choice protesters to be heroes. However, in the days leading up to the protest, when Real Choice needed all the support it could muster, Trotter advised his readers to boycott it. Not only was Trotter found wanting - he positioned himself as a political adversary of Real Choice.
If you were being magnanimous and if this was just an isolated incident, you might be tempted to forgive Trotter's attack as an error of judgment which he has at least tried to rectify. But this was not an isolated incident. Despite always claiming that his loyalties lie on the left, he consistently and regularly attacks the left. Here he is in 2008, for example, claiming that the left, because it would not support Labour, actually wanted a National Government elected:
The election of a National Government is always the Far- Left's equivalent of Christmas. Overnight, their world is transformed. All the old and familiar class enemies are restored to their proper places, and all of the old banners and placards can be taken down from the shelf, dusted-off, and returned to service. The Tories are back on the Treasury benches and all is Right with the world.
In the very same column he claims that the left don't want to prove the lot of ordinary people - it prefers to people to be living in poverty and misery:
A fat steak and a good bottle of Chardonnay is the last thing they want to see on the worker's table. No, no. What the Far-Left wants to see are scraps of stale bread and cups of cold water. It needs the power and the phone cut off, holes in the roof, and the car up on blocks in the front yard. Why? Because the preferred political currency of the Far-Left has always been misery, poverty, hunger and despair.
Yes, we on the left are all laughing it up that over a quarter of the country's children now live in poverty... its all going to plan!
Trotter's attack on Real Choice was the actions of someone who long ago bid farewell to the left but, unfortunately, he hasn't had the good grace to leave the room. He's the curmudgeonly figure sitting in the corner, sniping away about a left that he is increasingly failing to understand. While he finds comfort in the ego-stroking from the likes of Paul Henry, - just as he did when Helen Clark was around - he's the guy waving his walking stick at all the young whippersnappers /ultraleftists who just won't follow his instructions and support his right wing Labour Party.
Trotter has got away with his attacks and still claim his allegiances are on the left, because it serves the mainstream media well to have someone like Trotter around who they can wheel out to scythe down the 'excesses' of the left. There has to be a reason why Trotter keeps popping up on television, radio and in print. Its not as if he's got anything new to say because Trotter's ossified idea of left wing politics starts and ends with the Labour Party.
But even a complacent Chris Trotter has worked out that his attack on Real Choice went too far. It exposed him not only to be totally out of touch with the New Zealand left but with the public mood as well. Hence the grovelling apology.
But tears are not enough, especially crocodile tears.
Note: Another response to Chris Trotter's 'apology', from Socialist Aotearoa, can be read here.