I’ll let Garth’s own words speak for him:
If ever there were a reason to turf this Government out, it is the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Dear Leader in refusing point blank to scrap the despicable Electoral Finance Bill.
Here is a woman who has been blathering on about human rights ever since she became a public face, who rails against the military takeover in Fiji and demands a return to democracy there, and who gallivants round the world attending wartime anniversaries.
The irony seems to escape her that this bill, which has been written for no other reason than to give Labour an advantage during next year’s election campaign, is the most serious attack on human rights in this country that has ever been mounted.
It is an assault on democracy every bit as dangerous as the antics of Frank Bainimarama, for it is the sort of legislation that prospective dictators force through to shut down public dissent.
And it is an insult to the thousands of New Zealanders who died in two world wars to turn back those who would have enslaved us and preserve our democracy and our human rights.
I have contempt, too, for the Labour running dogs who have indicated they will support this Government bill – the MPs of United Future, NZ First and the Greens.
I suppose it is expected of that master of self-interested compromise, Winston Peters, who is about to visit North Korea as our non-Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs.
If Kim Jong-il hears about the Electoral Finance Bill, he’ll probably invite Winston to dinner.
Peter Dunne has never been anything but Labour lite and can be trusted only to lick the Government’s boots.
But I must say I’m a bit surprised at the Greens. I would have thought blokes like Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos, those champions of the underdog, would have cavilled at this piece of legislation. But no. Politics overrides principle yet again.
It is ironic, isn’t it, that the excuse being used to put this bill forward is the activities of the leaders of an obscure religious cult during the last election campaign who wanted rid of Labour and the Greens and were prepared to put their money where their mouths were to the tune of $1.2 million.
Setting aside the fact that they were perfectly entitled to carry out this democratic activity, the irony is that it backfired on National and probably cost it that election.
The other thing, of course, that is pricking Clark and Co to go through with this bill – in spite of the opposition, some of it from Labour-friendly sources such as the Law and Human Rights Commissions – is simmering resentment over having to pay back $1.2 million for illegal taxpayer-funded election advertising last time.
So the Dear Leader and her minions are determined that next time advertising condemning or criticising the Government will be heavily restricted, while the Government will be able to spend what it likes promoting its own policies at no cost to the party.
If ever there was a misuse of political power, this is it. As this newspaper said in only its second front-page editorial in five years, “democracy is not a device to keep Labour in power”.
And, as with all addictions, the longer it is practised the worse it gets. Thus, the dumping of Labour a year from now would really be a humane act. Its members need saving from themselves.
I am intrigued that one of the Dear Leader’s arguments in favour of the bill is that “the National Party benefits enormously from big money in New Zealand politics”.
If that is true, how come National was almost wiped out in 2002 and failed to win Government in 2005?
Labour strategists seem to think that anger over this bill, if it becomes law in the next few weeks, will be forgotten come next year.
Not so. I, for one, certainly won’t forget. But who knows?
Perhaps by then this column will be banned by law, too.
Labour’s hopes are that this issue will go away in a few weeks. They thought that also with the pledge card. They were wrong. They thought they could stand up for Taito Philip Field and that would go away. They were wrong.