Jesse Mulligan, RNZ National presenter and a co-host of TV3's The Project, breaks with The Commentariat and launches a critical attack on the National government.

IT IS INDICATIVE of the near absence of anything approaching critical and progressive commentary in the mainstream media that Jesse Mulligan's well-aimed critical salvo at the Prime Minister and his government on TV3's The Project has attracted a lot of attention and provoked a lot of discussion.

Last time I looked Mulligan's short Monday night commentary had attracted over 170,000 views on Facebook as well as over 400 comments.

His criticism of Bill English's tweet that his government was delivering for all New Zealanders was hardly new - it has been said many times before in various ways in the blogosphere for instance - but it's a long time since we have had something close to a direct attack on the government by a commentator in the mainstream media, and especially on television.

And we're talking TV3 here - once home to former National Party candidate Paul Henry and whose replacement, Duncan Garner, gave this government his 'big tick' before the last election - and will probably do so again this year.

But Mulligan also pointed out that his commentary could not be interpreted as a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party and he specifically mentioned Labour's recent appalling attempt to link immigration levels with the country's chronic suicide rate. Unlike Mike Hosking's sycophantic commentaries on behalf of the National government, Mulligan's commentary  was more nuanced...and more intelligent.

But it wasn't perfect. Some of us would say he wrongly credited the National government for a so-called 'strong economy’ and 'low unemployment' when they are more illusionary than factual.

But while Mulligan didn't quite get to calling for a political party that represented the many and not the few, the fact that he and The Project were confident that his commentary would find a receptive audience is another sign that the political centre is not holding. It is just so disappointing, close to historically tragic, that we have a neither a progressive political leader or party to capitalise on this and act accordingly.


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