Putting the civil into disobedience.

Metiria stated in Friday’s presser words to the effect that

We’ve tried everything. Bills. Debates. Research. Nothing works. I’d far rather people get angry about this, than not talk about it at all.”

So, that happened. My guess is that after umpteen years in opposition, she was simply looking at ways to change it up a bit. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice.

The ethical complaints are pretty much a non starter. Obviously, she was being dishonest with WINZ, and that’s not something to encourage. However, not all dishonesty is the same. For instance, does anyone now begrudge Ngati Whatua their ownership of the land around their Orakei marae? Does anyone think Mahatma Ghandi was wrong to make his own salt? Did Oscar Wilde really deserve being subject to forced labour?

Sometimes, the most profound civil disobedience is executed by people simply living their lives as best they can.

Meanwhile, over at Public Address, Craig Young has compiled a handy list of transgressions of currently sitting government ministers:

  • Richard Worth: allegations of sexual harrassment
  • David Garrett: past identity theft of dead infant
  • Aaron Gilmore: harrassment and intimidation of others
  • Claudette Hauiti: misuse of parliamentary charge card, claimed expenses after announcing departure from Parliament
  • Mike Sabin: alleged assault complaint
  • Pansy Wong: misused parliamentary travel perk after her husband conducted private business on a visit to China
  • Nick Smith: contempt of court (March 2004); defamation cases (1999,2005); ACC conflict of interest (2012)
  • Todd Barclay: employment dispute, clandestine recordings

Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right. But these are all of a wholly different order to Metiria’s transgressions. First, all these people were sitting, government MPs when they did their wrongdoing. Second, they all got busted in the act, caught in the full knowledge of what they were doing. Some of them are still in the job, and one of them is still the PM. If only progressive voters could be so lax in their moral standards!

The electoral issue is even less problematic. In fact, it’s not problematic at all. The commission appears to be more interested in getting people to enrol and vote once, than bothering too much about what electorate they vote in. It says (with my apologies, as I can’t provide the citation):

People have a wide range of living arrangements which may involve living in more than one place at various times.

It seems John Key himself was ignorant of this relaxed approach when, in 2004, he corrected his information on the electoral role to reflect where he lived (Parnell), rather than where he’d previously voted for himself (Helensville). This was the exact same thing as Metiria did, only she voted for another, and wasn’t an MP at the time.

So, Metiria rolled the dice. The dice that landed gave Labour a fabulously compassionate woman at the helm. She’s electable: good outcome. Even better, while her politics are currently a bit ambiguous, she’s clearly to the right of the Greens. I think that’s probably useful. Labour can chase disaffected National voters, and the Greens are there for disaffected Labour voters, many of whom suspect that “centre left” really means “new right”.

At times, I’ve argued for greater agility on the Greens’ political positioning. I’m over it, for now. Left of Labour is where they need to be.

I still maintain that those who wish to change the government ought to cast their party vote to the Greens. Jacinda will go to Parliament, because of her ranking and because of her electorate. Labour electorates will come back in force. And the more Green MPs that she has in coalition, the better – and more properly Labourish – she will be.


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