The media's obsession with Grant Robertson's sexual orientation deflects attention from a leadership 'contest' where none of the contestants have anything new to offer.

The crucial issue that has been occupying the corporate media is whether the public would accept a gay Labour leader or even a gay Prime Minister. Actually this is largely just something that the media itself has invented as an 'issue' - for everyone else, save for the lonely rednecks who ring talkback radio, its entirely irrelevant.

Unlike the corporate media ordinary people have bigger things to worry about - like whether they'll have a job next week or what they are going to do if WINZ decides to cut their benefit.

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, columnist John Armstrong opined that Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson was indeed gay, but 'not overtly so'. So that's alright then.

Given that Robertson has made no secret of his sexual orientation, its hard to imagine how much more 'overt' he could be. Perhaps Armstrong thinks Robertson could, without warning, burst into Parliament wearing a pink shirt and tight white pants, sporting a handlebar moustache, listening to Bette Midler on his Ipod and declaring, in best Mr Humphreys manner, 'I'm free!".

Robertson rightly wants to be judged on his beliefs, policies and abilities but he's hard out of luck on that score because the media have reduced the so-called battle for the Labour leadership to little more than a personality contest.

I saw a television interview with Robertson over the weekend where he declared that he believed in Labour's 'traditional values', was 'concerned' by the historically low voter turnout at the last general election and 'worried' that most people saw politics as something  that was done to them rather than something they were a part of.

Since Robertson, as deputy leader, has already stated that Labour would not deviate from the neoliberal orthodoxy and 'interfere' with the market the immediate question is how this commitment to the 'free market' squares with a commitment to traditional Labour values - unless, of course 'traditional' Labour values or anything you want them to be.

Given that even some of Labour's more rabid free marketeeers have framed photos of Mickey Savage on their office walls, when Labour politicians start talking 'Labour values' you know they're just making it up as they go along. I'm more 'Labour' than these phonies and I don't even support the party.

Robertson says he's concerned about the widespread alienation from the electoral system. Mmn, could that have anything to do with the fact that none of the parliamentary parties are offering anything more than the same failed market-geared policies that you support, Grant?

And, here's some news for you Grant, politics has become something that is done to us. Representative democracy has become a sham, dominated by the political and economic elite. Got any new policies to address this? No, I didn't think so.

Robertson is just another market politician little different from his leadership rivals David Cunliffe and Shane Jones. That the media have been focusing on his sexuality is an irrelevant sideshow that deflects attention from the fact that none of Labour's potential new leaders have anything new to offer.

What would Labour's message by under Cunliffe, Robertson or Jones? The limp message would be simply to vote for more of what you've already got - that's not going to have disaffected voters suddenly enthused to vote Labour. None of Labour's potential leaders have an alternative plan or vision.

What Labour supporters comprehensively fail to understand is that just pointing at John Key and saying "he's terrible, vote for us instead" is not enough. People are asking why should they ? None of Labour's aspiring new leaders have anything remotely resembling an answer.


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