Last weekend, when he said Indian students had “ruined” many of our education institutions, he barely even bothered with nuance.
This was racism, plain as day. He has not resiled from it – saying only that if others think he’s been racist, he will live with it.
The only person who seems to think it wasn’t racist is the PM.
She needs to do a lot more than that. Jones was banging the bigots’ drum – and serving notice that he intends to continue doing it.
When it comes to NZ First, Ardern is showing the lack of authority more readily associated with a relieving teacher unable to deal with the boys in the back row who will go on disrupting the class until the end of term because they know she cannot control them.
She needs to censure Jones publicly and strongly. It hardly matters whether he believes what he is saying or is just practising his lines for NZ First’s tactics in the coming election campaign. The party is free to talk about a population policy and immigration, but singling out a particular ethnicity crosses a bright line that is unacceptable to the public and is embarrassing for the Government.
This is the key. It is not racist to say we should have less immigration. It is not racist to say we should have a population policy. It is racist to scapegoat Indians.
She should demand that Jones apologise. Peters’ behaviour is damaging enough, but Jones’ utterances are a stain on New Zealand’s tolerance and inclusion. If he must indulge himself, he should do so from the backbenches until voters decide his fate.
I predict this will not happen.