“The rot is very deep. [The] party is allergic to women.”
Those are powerful words from a former Beehive aide, appalled by how the Labour party has handled allegations of sexual assault by a staffer.
Read that again. This is how someone who actually worked for Labour in the Beehive describes them.
Is it any wonder then, that some complainants turned to National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett for help?
It’s hard to imagine how frustrated they must have been to take such an unprecedented step.
Jacinda Ardern has pledged two – secret – inquiries. It’s the bare minimum, and the cookie-cutter response to a PR crisis.
But look past the PM’s soothing platitudes, to the party’s defensive behaviour over the last fortnight. It reveals MPs and members are in denial about how badly they wronged these young volunteers.
Ardern, who chooses her words with care, dismissed the original media reporting, and interviews with complainants, as “speculation.”
Kelvin Davis went further, calling the allegations rumours. When he was called out for disrespect, he tried to minimise the harm by playing victim.
Next to wade in was Willie Jackson. It was a devastatingly insensitive PR strategy from Labour: wheeling out the man who victim blamed and supported rape culture during the Roastbusters scandal.
And people wonder why the victims are upset.
Then, with all the sensitivity of your misogynistic old uncle, Peters stepped up to defend his coalition partners. He labelled the allegations “unfounded fiction”, an “orgy of speculation”, and “innuendo”.
In staggeringly boorish fashion, his MP Shane Jones followed up. He was “more worried about Spark, whether or not I can watch the World Cup Rugby than hearing any more about she said, he said.”
And Tracey Martin, chimed in: “[Peters has] got a point – I haven’t seen any evidence be produced.” Suggesting these young people must prove they were abused is an odd position for the Minister of Children to adopt.
Instead of trashing Paula Bennett, perhaps female Labour, NZ First and Green MPs should reflect on why the complainants choose her, and not them, as their advocate.
Remember this is a Government of kindness!