Note: This column was written some hours before Metiria Turei announced her resignation as co-leader of the Green Party, citing that the media and political pressure on her family had become "unbearable". And while Patrick Gower and TV3 are claiming that a poor poll result was a contributory factor, the result is not as "catastrophic' as Gower claims. The Green's four percent drop is due largely to the hostile media coverage they have received over the past three weeks - which is the theme of this column. It might have been an altogether different story too if Jacinda Ardern and Labour Party had supported the Greens, but that apparently was beyond them.
Despite a sustained and hostile campaign against Green co-leader Metiria Turei, the corporate media have failed to force her resignation.
|Verity Johnson: Speaking out in defence of Metiria Turei.|
THE RESIGNATION of conservative Green Party MP's David Clendon and Kennedy Graham allowed the corporate media to open another front against Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. They couldn't force her resignation after she revealed she had fiddled the welfare twenty years ago, they couldn't force her resignation when a minor electoral irregularity was uncovered - maybe the resignation of two Green MP's would finally dislodge her. In the end, they failed again because the Green Party have toughed it out and stood up for what they believe.
From the moment Clendon and Graham decided that their own personal discomfort was more important than the interests of the Green Party, Turei was under sustained attack. The well heeled members of The Commentariat were tripping over themselves to see who could denounce Metiria Turei and The Green Party the loudest.
They were even stealing each others insults. On TV3'S The AM Show hack journalist and National Party supporter Mark Richardson described the Green Party as "sanctimonious". That's not a word you hear being used too often but, only a few hours later, another National party supporter, Matthew Hooton, was describing Turei as 'sanctimonious" on RNZ's Nine To Noon show.
To a man - and they are mostly white males - the members of The Commentariat have been almost uniformly hostile to Turei and the Green Party. Here's a list of some I had the "pleasure" to experience: Duncan Garner (Radio Live and TV3), Mark Richardson (Radio Live and TV3), Mike Hosking (Newstalk ZB and TVNZ), Tim Wilson (Newstalk ZB and TVNZ ), Bruce Russell (Newstalk ZB), Mark Sainsbury (Radio Live), Tracy Watkins (Dominion), Chris Lynch (Newstalk ZB), Patrick Gower (TV3), Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB) Matthew Hooton (all over the place).
Philip Matthews, a senior writer at The Press, thinks that Turei's decision to speak out on behalf of beneficiaries and the poor actually represents a leap backwards for the Green's. Voicing criticism of the neoliberal consensus is, apparently, not what sensible parliamentary politicians and parties should indulge in:
"In simple terms, the Greens have chosen the social justice and poverty activism of Turei over the valuable environmental experience of Graham and Clendon. But something greater and much harder to replace has departed from the Greens and that is their new-found, hard-won reputation for sobriety and moderation. You could even say that the Greens have now experienced their own great leap backwards."
It's always intrigued me how people who are opposed to socialist and left wing politics actually know very little about socialist and left wing politics. But they still feel they are eminently qualified to pontificate on the subject. Philip Matthews is one of these people.
And, of course, a special mention must be made of all those talkback callers who have bravely bashed Turei and the Green's under the cover of anonymity. Metiria Turei has been talkback gold. She's female, Maori, an environmentalist, liberal - and a former beneficiary who fiddled the system. She is fully qualified for a good talkback kicking and kick out they did.
"...when Turei came forward and said, 1) she misled WINZ, 2) that she was scared about admitting it but felt she had a duty to do so, and 3) that the system was broken and she was the proof, it was the first time I'd properly respected a politician.
It smacks of integrity. I know that is counterintuitive because she technically lied. But I still think this move is overwhelmingly honest. Her whole campaign is that the benefits aren't enough to live on. You know she believes this because she clearly has been there and experienced it. She's also prepared to fight for this moral principle by staking her political career on it."
There's more political insight and compassion evident in these words then in anything that her more high profile male colleagues Garner, Gower and Richardson have said.
But I'd like to leave the last word to another woman, Chloe King - she blogs at Millennial Posse by the way. She tweeted:
Beyond the anti-Turei cacophony of the corporate media, I think a lot of people would agree with Chloe.