Young on Josie Pagani

Audrey Young’s profile on Josie Pagani resulted in the expected torrent of wails from some on the left that she shouldn’t be a political commentator as she isn’t ideologically pure enough. The profile has some interesting stuff in it:

Political commentator had a daunting entrance into politics. She fronted up to an interview panel of Jim Anderton, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sandra Lee, John Wright and Mr Anderton’s chief press secretary, them on one side, her on the other.

It was for a job as an Alliance press secretary and all the party leaders had to have a say.

Mr Anderton knew Josie through her close friendship with his daughter Philippa, and suggested she apply for the job.

The only person on the panel who thought she wasn’t up to it was the chief press secretary, John Pagani, no relation then but now her husband.

“They all gave me the tick except for John who said, apparently, ‘I just don’t think she’s strong enough’.”

John never did have good judgement 🙂

I knew Josie before she was a Pagani. I think she was Matt Robson’s press secretary. Like most in the Alliance, she wasn’t (and isn’t) a Blairite (which is the term some in Labour use for those who are impure).

Josie Pagani was raised in a political family and her roots are in Labour but not blue collar Labour. She remembers as a girl meeting her great uncle, Rewi Alley, on one of his returns from China. Her mother, author Elspeth Sandys, was very active in the British Labour Party and Josie joined as a teenager.

“I got very involved in the miners’ strike in England on the picket line. Being radical when I was in my 20s meant having ‘Coal not Dole’ stickers and standing on the picket line. Nowadays … you’re standing outside the mines with a ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ sticker.”

Alas I think it is hereditary. Their children can be spotted in no asset sales shirts 🙂

She was a good friend of Sam Mendes who has just directed the latest James Bond movie. She dabbled herself in films but the furthest she got was second focus puller on The Piano.

… resist making joke around now …

Perhaps fittingly for her present career, she has a degree in “political theatre” or what her husband jokingly calls “basket weaving”.

You can get a degree in political theatre?

John Pagani was regarded suspiciously, especially by the unions, in the highly factionalised Labour Party as an adviser to Mr Anderton, then Labour leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer.

Josie Pagani is, by nature, more Pollyanna than Machiavelli.

Heh, we know who that implies is the Machiavelli.

She’s a Labour Party member in the unusual position of not only having a platform to criticise the Government but her own party’s leadership, the party itself, and sacred cows such as welfare reform.

I am also sometimes in the position where my view on National’s performance is not overly shared by those in Parliament, or with party activists. It does cause a degree of tension at times. But I’m relieved I’ve never had the torrent of abuse that Josie gets just because I might say something that the activists may not agree with (such as that agriculture should now enter the ETS). People tend to communicate their criticisms or concerns to me directly and politely (yet often firmly) – which is a far more productive way of doing things.

She happily debates right-wing opponents such as Matthew Hooton, Deborah Coddington, David Farrar and Cameron Slater. There is no personal invective; they are often complimentary about her.

She wonders jokingly if they are trying to destroy her career “by showing me so much love and support”.

Oh we are. We want Irish Bill to replace her on National Radio 🙂

The most severe criticism is from the left of politics’ left, usually by anonymous bloggers who question her left-wing credentials at best and can be personally abusive. A “neo-liberal apologist” is one of the more constructive criticisms. “Useless” and “loathsome” are more typical.

What I love is how so many refer to her and John as a singular unit (The Paganis) and not only blame them for everything wrong with Labour and Shearer, but have no comprehension that Josie and John actually have quite different views on various issues. If right wing politicians carried on in such a way, they’d be denounced as sexist.

She may have empathy with Mr Tamihere because the unions fought his selection in 1999 – Helen Clark intervened – and the unions block-voted against Josie Pagani’s bid to become Labour’s candidate in the Mana byelection in 2010.

And they are about to get 20% of the vote for the next Leader.

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