Playing the race card

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Green Party co-leader is accusing National Party MPs of “pure ” after comments in Parliament about her home and clothing.

Pure racism? What did they say?

East Coast MP and Police Minister said today that Turei, lived in a castle and wore designer clothes.

Speaking during the debate on the Prime Minister John Key’s opening statement to Parliament, Tolley said she was insulted by Green Party claims that she was out of touch.

She said said her role as an electorate MP included meetings with constituents who were among the poorest in the country.

“I’m actually insulted to be lectured about how out of touch I am with average New Zealand by a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle and comes to the House in $2000 designed jackets and tells me I’m out of touch,” Tolley said.

I don’t think Turei’s choices of clothes are relevant, and Tolley could have made her point without referring to them. But how in God’s name do you conclude that her comments are racist?

MPs often have a go at each other for their apparent wealth. We hear all the time about John Key having a holiday home in Hawaii, or David Cunliffe living in Herne Bay.  This may be petty, but it is not racist.

Asked about Tolley’s comments, Turei said racism was behind the attack.

“I’m shocked that the National Party would attack me and my home and my appearance. I think it is a racist attack,” she said.

Turei is playing the race card, as a defensive measure.

“I think they seem to think it is all right for them to wear perfectly good suits for their professional job but that a Maori woman from a working-class background is not entitled to do the same. I think it is pure racism.”

Ask how the attack was racist, Turei said she shopped at the same place some of her opponents did.

“They do not think that a professional Maori woman from a working-class background should be able to wear good suits to work,” she said.

Turei seems to be projecting, to put it mildly. They were attacking her for being sanctimonious, not Maori.

Turei said it was unfair to attack her home.

“MPs’ homes have always been outside of the acceptable realms of debate, and so this very personal, very explicit attack, I think, comes from their inability to cope with my work and the effectiveness of my work, and an inherent racism.”

Oh what nonsense. Opposition MPs rant and rave about John Key’s house all the time. Cunliffe’s house also comes in for mention on a regular basis. Neither of them claim it is racism.

Asked whether there was any irony in a Left-wing political leader wearing expensive clothing, she said: “Do you ask that question of David Cunliffe? Do you ask that question of any other political leader or any other politician?

Basically yes. People comment all the time that Cunliffe lives in an incredibly expensive house in a very expensive suburb. Now one can have a view as to whether that is relevant – but Turei is not alone in having jibes about the contrast between claiming to represent the down trodden and their lifestyle.  Also Winston Peters choice of expensive clothes have received lots of comments in the past.

“I’m simply not prepared to pander to that. This is a racist attack by National and I’m not prepared to pander to it.”

Tolley described Turei’s comments as “absolute nonsense”.

“The Greens’ co-leader is entitled to turn up in Parliament every day in expensive designer clothes, and good on her for doing just that,” Tolley said.

As I said, I don’t think what Turei wears is relevant. But Turei playing the race card as a defence is rather sad.

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