|The PM and Nigel Haworth pn489|
While still reeling from the punches and counter-punches that have recently rocked the Fiji political stage, I turned to NZ media pages hoping for some relief. But no.
First up, was Simon Bridges after his recent five-day visit to China. He apparently "set a new standard of cringeworthiness by ... buttered up the Chinese Communist Party" (more kindly, some might say he was naive and diplomatic).
And then, Jacinda Ardern who is a hundred times guilty by association in the Labour Party sex scandals.
As expected, the media dropped the Bridges' story for the far juicier, and more politically damaging, sex scandals.
We were launched on the only too familiar merry-go-round of media speculation and hostile opinion. Rotated from Newshub to The Spinoff, the NZ Herald, Stuff, anti-Labour blogs and the National Oppostion, with Mike Hoskings, Heather du Plessis, Claire Trevett, David Farrier, Paula Bennett and others, each quoting the other to add credulity to their argument. Round and round, and again.
Their target, however, was not Labour President Nigel Haworth who had stuffed up (which, although well intended, he probably had) but Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister, the key to Labour's popular appeal. Damage her reputation and the next election is anybody's call. So much for our free, balanced and impartial media!
Previous negative media commentary has painted Ardern as a person with gloss but no substance, a pretty face with no grasp of policy. Now it is also calling her a liar.
She "knew" the accusations included sex assaults. She was "heartless" in showing no concern for the victims. She was artless in pleading "deep disappointment and incredible frustration in the process " Most omitted the rest of the sentence, "... but also obviously by the nature of the allegations". So she was not heartless as claimed. She was artless in acting as if the Labour Party and parliamentary Labour were not joined at the hip. And even more artless in appointing Marie Drew QC to investigate the allegations.
The "obvious" intention of the QC's investigation, according to some in the media, is not to find the truth, but to "exonerate Ardern ... and find a scapegoat". This is a very serious inference about the QC's integrity, and the scapegoat, if he can be called that, is the Labour Party President.
So there you have it. Trial by Media.
Me too Labour
Meanwhile, a group of Labour Party members (Me too, Labour) have written to the PM asking that Nigel Haworth be sacked. Unlike the media, they put no blame on Ardern. To the contrary.
"We know that you will be as horrified as us by the descriptions of the violent sexual attacks inflicted on these women, and we hope that you also recognise the many failures of the Labour Party in addressing them."Their letters ends:
"Prime Minister, we have looked up for you for years as a champion of women, survivors and other marginalised people. To address this matter with the urgency and decency it deserves would be to justify the faith that so many place in you.Please do the right thing. Me Too Labour"I think the PM has done the right thing by referring the matter to the QC, and I hope Me Too Labour agree.
REFERENCES cited in the Me too Labour letter to the PM: