Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Showing a prime minister the disrespect he deserves

So, New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key -- aka "the unidentified person," as reported by media covering Nelson Mandela's memorial celebrations -- is trying to stir up unrest over Hone Harawira's taxpayer supported trip to South Africa to pay homage to Mr Mandela's life.

Mr Harawira represents an electorate many of whose constituents and former constituents were among the spearheads of the anti-apartheid protest movement in New Zealand -- including the formidable Harawira family. He absolutely should have been in South Africa for the events. The fact that he should have been there respresenting his constituency is evident from the fact that Mr Harawira had a personal connection with Mr Mandela and, indeed, was invited to participate in Mandela family events while he was there.

The person whose presence at the celebrations genuinely is questionable is, of course, Key: a political non event at the best of times, someone truly worthy of being identified by media as "an unidentified person"; and at the same time, someone whose entourage included two National Party members who supported the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand. How's that for a touch of class? Mr Mandela, in prison at the time, identified the anti-apartheid solidarity shown by New Zealand protestors as a ray of light in very dark times.

If there is a touch of class to be had around the occasion of Key's latest mindless bluster, it must surely be Mr Harawira's opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald. It goes to the heart of the matter and pinpoints Key's spurious politics. Unlike Key's norm for political statements, Harawira's response appeals to a few hard core facts: which, for New Zealand politics these days (at least, as observed from the safe distance of Mexico) seems like a pretty radical stance to adopt.

Well spoken, Hone. There is nothing like showing someone the disrespect they deserve when they deserve it.

In Key's case, there should be a lot more of it.



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