Donald Brash, racism, and political advantage

I almost feel sorry for ordinary members and supporters of the Act party.  Most of them base their support on a shared belief in laissez faire free market capitalism; a preference for a small, ‘non-interventionist’ state; and a form of social liberalism that gives primacy to the rights of the individual.

That’s not a worldview that I could ever sign up for, but nor is it one that gives cause for offence in an open democracy.

Unfortunately for them, Act supporters are at risk of being tarred with the racist brush, probably unfairly for the most part, given the latest outpouring of anti-Māori bile from their ‘leader’ Donald Thomas Brash.

A few months ago the best political theatre in town was the high farce of a former National party leader taking over the leadership of a party of which he was not a member, offering the MAD (mutually assured destruction) option of ‘make me your leader or I will call upon my rich mates to fund an alternative right wing party’.

Donald spoke of the renaissance of the right, a leap up the polls to 15% or more, of a new coalition that would put steel in the spine of the NACT coalition, etc, etc, etc….

In the real world of course Act continues to bounce along the bottom of the margin of error in the polls.  It has a much less assured grip on its security blanket electorate as some ambitious National party aspirants vie for the Epsom candidacy, and are unlikely to want to give Banks, that other former-Nat, the easy ride that Richard Worth allowed Rodney Hide in 2008.

Desperate times, so Donald reaches into his bag of dirty tricks and pulls out the race card, the same trick that worked (a bit) for him in 2004.  Māori, apparently, are a privileged lot who live off the fat of the land and enjoy enormous rights and privileges not available to non-Māori, and Donald doesn’t think it’s ‘fair’.

What seems to elude Donald Thomas is the reality of Māori featuring at the wrong end of all the statistics about health, education, employment, life expectancy, incarceration, housing, income – but then when did he ever let the facts get in the way of a politically expedient tall story?

For their own sake, you would think that a posse of Act-ites would lock their leader in a room with a couple of  Treaty educators, copies of some good social histories of New Zealand, a set of social and economic statistics, and maybe a copy of the new Wai 262 report.  Maybe if he worked his way through that lot he might get a clearer picture of reality – or could it be that he knows the truth already, but is willing to deny it and assert the opposite purely in the forlorn hope of political gain?

56 thoughts on “Donald Brash, racism, and political advantage

  1. The only connecting issue for ACT and those is represents is the RMA and easing regulatory conditions for capital to exploit resources, the rest is base populism – bash the “indigenous people” for getting uppity.

    This is simply a case of Maori guardianship being one of the regulatory blocks on capitalist privilege and thus the Treaty being a problem (backed by UN positions on the rights of indigenous eoples) – posing one law for all is part of the electoral reform, that has as an end goal removing both the Maori and Green presence in parliament.

    Posing the issue in an inflammatory way is for the same purpose as ACT’s focus on law and order – bring out base racism against the underclass to mobilise white voters behind capitalist elitism. In the USA the Republican Party uses fundamentalist end-time “dominionism” religion to deliver the votes of the underclass whites for the cause of the capitalist corporate plutocracy.

  2. “I am aware of what happened, and while what happened needs to be fixed, it should not be used as an excuse not to work hard and actually make something of yourself.”

    It isn’t an excuse, it’s a cause. Plenty of Maori do work hard and make something of themselves. But to do that in the present system requires a confidence that many people (both Maori and Pakeha) lack. Confidence in a social paradigm that reflects the values and practices of a different culture, and belittles your own, is rare.

    Assets help as well – the guy with the cattle farm on marginal land might be doing well while farm product prices are high, but will be first to go if they fall. And, unless he’s lucky enough to have other skills and assets, the economic consequences of business failure will will probably hit his family hard. I’d guess he doesn’t have a bunch of business mates to help him out with a new venture if his current one goes.

    ” the fact that Maori have chosen to smoke, have chosen to engage in consumption of illicit drugs and have chosen to eat food in excess has virtually nothing to do with location in the socio-economic ladder – a rich white person who chooses to smoke is also going to have negative health results.”

    That’s rather stating the obvious. Actually socio-economic position has everything to do with it – rich people tend to choose less harmful luxuries (at least, less harmful for themselves), and live in circumstances where cheap harmful luxuries are frowned upon, poor people choose cheap luxuries, such as tobacco, cannabis and junk food, and live in circumstances that this is normalised.

  3. Johnstone, many do get on with it, but after five generations or so of marginalization it takes a while to turn things around. The breakdown of family structures, the issues around health and education have come about through enforced poverty. These issues are not a natural part of Maori Culture but have become their culture due to many things beyond their control. It is one thing to have the opportunity to succeed but it is another to believe you can.

    Ka Hikitia is all about building up Maori children in “mainstream” schools so that they are proud of who they are and can succeed. It doesn’t help Maori children when they hear constantly through the media that their culture and language has no value and despite the fact that they are living in challenging environments that they are somehow privileged and undeserving of support.

    I agree with you about the success stories, we need to hear more of them. NZEI is currently focussing on success stories within Maori education to reverse the very negative and deficit thinking that is a daily reality.

  4. Because John-ston, the lower you are in the socio-economic ladder and also being a minority culture, the choices and opportunities are different.

    In terms of healthcare, the fact that Maori have chosen to smoke, have chosen to engage in consumption of illicit drugs and have chosen to eat food in excess has virtually nothing to do with location in the socio-economic ladder – a rich white person who chooses to smoke is also going to have negative health results.

    In terms of education, while the opportunities might have been different more than twenty years ago, with a bit of hard work and determination, anyone who is at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder can get a decent University education and get into a decent job (or they can even work in the trades). The problem is that we are still seeing Maori who are not choosing to make the most of the available opportunities.

    Please read Claudia Orange’s book “The Treaty of Waitangi” (The illustrated version has excellent supporting illustrations) and find out for yourself how Maori had their successful businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives shut down and restricted, how they were excluded from the same financial support for their farms that were available to pakeha farmers, how they were forced out of their most arable land into less productive land, how their family structures and culture was dismantled and how several generations of poverty and dysfunctional family structures can remove self determination and hope.

    I am aware of what happened, and while what happened needs to be fixed, it should not be used as an excuse not to work hard and actually make something of yourself.

    I do hope you don’t think Maori are struggling just because they have collectively made bad choices and they just need to pull their socks up get on with it. If so, I wonder what historical research, evidence and first hand knowledge you base your views on.

    Maori fifty years ago were struggling because of a system that disadvantaged them. Maori today are struggling because of collective bad decision making.

    And if you wonder what I base my views on, I will use my own story. My mother’s family were classified as Coloureds in South Africa and so had the system stacked up against them. Yet none of them have moaned about the fact that they were forced to live on the Cape Flats and lacked opportunties for promotion or got paid less than an a white person. They pulled up their socks and got on with it – my grandfather worked in education; aunts and uncles have worked in the trades and other professions, and I have cousins who are working in various professions. I suspect a similar situation exists for other people who were classified as Coloured under the Apartheid system.

    If you want another story, I recently had to do some research for an assignment about Maori land and I met a Maori guy who had engaged in cattle farming on some of the worst land possible and had worked hard to make a success of himself – and while he might not be a millionaire, nevertheless he seemed to live in reasonably comfortable conditions.

    Sure, I agree that the wrongs of the past need to be fixed – but after that has been fixed, Maori need to then realise that what was done was done and that it is time to pull up their socks and get on with it.

  5. Brash’s latest claim, that the ads are “not divisive” tends to confirm my view that he’s a rather isolated , out of touch kind of guy, rather out of depth when politics goes beyond statistics and numbers. Still, to be expected from a guy who spent much of his career as one the country’s highest paid public servants, and now spends his time ranting about other people being privileged and demanding a smaller state sector.

    At least John Ansell is honest, saying the ads were deliberately divisive: “it magnetises people for and against you”.

  6. Here’s Patrick Gower’s list of ACT “successes” leading up to the racist advertising debacle since the Brash takeover:

    * No re-branding of the ACT party.
    * No significant speech on economic issues by Dr Brash.
    * In fact we are still due a centrepiece speech on where ACT is going full stop.
    * No high-calibre new candidates have come forward.
    * Heather Roy has done a runner. Sinking ship stuff?
    * Brash has left the door open for a comeback by disgraced former MP David Garrett after police cleared him of fraud. In fact, Brash said he was “absolutely delighted” for Garrett and for ACT. Uh-oh.
    * Sir Roger Douglas emerges as Alasdair Thompson’s only supporter saying he was “destroyed by lynch mobs”. Uh-oh.

  7. and campbell…that you choose to lie down with/support those dogs..?..

    (apologies to the canine varieties of dog..bless them..!..eh..?)

    ..what does that say about you..?

    ..eh..?

    ..shouldn’t you be hiving yrslf off to a white-supremicist website…?

    ..to be with yr own..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  8. (heh..!..)…and you forsee a big jump for brash/act in the polls..?

    ..and i think he is presuming a tad too far…with his assumption the voters of epsom..are in the main…racist scumbags…like him/ansell..

    ..who will vote for the national front in drag…

    ..and i understand boscowan..(he who bought his list-placing in act..going rate:..$100,000..)

    ..even he is horrified by all this race-baiting…

    ..what a little ripper of a party..eh..?..that act..?

    ..and why is that prick brash never held to account for his key role in growing/fostering the housing bubble/crash…?

    ..he just gets to walk away from that ongoing festering-mess..?

    ..the economic genius who thought it was a brilliant idea to grow the economy by having new zealanders sell houses to each other..?

    ..the man is a sick joke..on so many levels…

    ..and the racist scumbag ansell…is just his alter-ego/id..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  9. Phil

    The poll was taken before this advert came out right? Ansell is telling the truth but has not been supported when the going got tough.

    At the end of the day Act is polling poorly because the voter does not yet know what they stand for and governance has been woeful. You will say that the voter does know and doesnt like it of course.

  10. “..Well done that man John Ansell for simply standing up and saying what 80% of NZ already know…”

    so..campbell…why the (since brash coup) drop in support from 2.4% to 1.7%..

    dosen’t that kinda fly in the face of yr 80% claims…there..eh..?

    …(just saying/asking..!..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  11. Andrew, clearly you are either on P or have no grip on reality with those comments. Hysteria doesnt help this massively important debate and at least David has a civil tongue in his head. Spewing hateful bile does not elevate your credibility.

    [frog: As I suggested to Andrew, please argue the issue. Let's not start a flame war.]

  12. A question for all the pathetic Tory trolls on this page: Why do you bother? Wouldn’t it be a better to frequent the pro animal cruelty and [deleted] websites, rather than bombarding us with your vile stench here? [frog: Remainder deleted - going too far. Please argue the issue, not abuse other commenters.]

  13. Hi David. I have great respect for your work, but I have to pull you up for being far too polite. Do you really “almost feel sorry for ACT members”? Sorry, but ALL Act members are racist-right-wing-cracker-red-neck-nut-jobs by definition! The act party is nothing more that a far-right extremist political party, no different to the National Front, or Nazi Party. How can you feel sorry for them? They are the lowest of the low, and I as a Pakeha am embarrassed to be the same race as those small minded bigots. All this recent bile spewed by that evil sack of shit just underlines their fascist ideology. By you humanising their vile membership you are doing the country a disservice. I have to ask the question… would you be so nice to the British National Party, or German Nazi Party? ACT are no different to these two, so why so you humanise them? Supposed “free market capitalism” and “fascism” are one and the same thing. Just ask all the business owners under the Nazis. They all made massive profits from fascism, just as ACT hope to achieve in NZ!

  14. “Why have Maori failed to make the right choices in health and education, and why are Maori still failing to make those right choices?”
    Because John-ston, the lower you are in the socio-economic ladder and also being a minority culture, the choices and opportunities are different. For example evidence and research show that Maori children learn best in environments that better suit their needs and the recent review of the Education Ministry revealed that:
    “If the Ministry were to adopt the same attention, drive and focus on Ka Hikitia as it did on National Standards, there would be a step- change in progress.”

    Ka Hikitia was designed to lift Maori achievement and where it has been implemented fully it has been highly successful, but the government feels it is better to put money into a flawed assessment system instead.

    Please read Claudia Orange’s book “The Treaty of Waitangi” (The illustrated version has excellent supporting illustrations) and find out for yourself how Maori had their successful businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives shut down and restricted, how they were excluded from the same financial support for their farms that were available to pakeha farmers, how they were forced out of their most arable land into less productive land, how their family structures and culture was dismantled and how several generations of poverty and dysfunctional family structures can remove self determination and hope.

    I do hope you don’t think Maori are struggling just because they have collectively made bad choices and they just need to pull their socks up get on with it. If so, I wonder what historical research, evidence and first hand knowledge you base your views on.

  15. From a strategic point of view, this is probably a failure. I would compare Don Brash and Maori with Winston Peters and Asian Immigration – it leapt them into the spotlight when it first came out and scored them votes, but the more they bring it out, the less of an impact it has. Remember in 2004 when Brash did the Orewa speech, it was not long after the High Court decision on the Seabed and Foreshore and much of the country feared that they were going to have to pay to access the beach (in much the same way that much of the country feared that we were going to be swamped with Asians back in 1996).

    What seems to elude Donald Thomas is the reality of Māori featuring at the wrong end of all the statistics about health, education, employment, life expectancy, incarceration, housing, income – but then when did he ever let the facts get in the way of a politically expedient tall story?

    But then the question is why are Maori at the wrong end of those social statistics? Why have Maori failed to make the right choices in health and education, and why are Maori still failing to make those right choices?

  16. Wow! There’s some real nut jobs in the Facebook comments for this thread. This one by Stuart Clark is a crack up:

    The greens are just a bunch of old time socialist/commies but to scared to actually say so…and like all of the losers adhering to that BS and drugs can never come clean and say so. Just the same tired old marxist stuff. FFS capitisim won, the wall came down. East germany. Russia. Hellooooo. Russell Norman…….failure.

    I suppose he’s the typical Act supporter… Delusional, prejudiced and insane.

  17. @Andy 7:43 PM

    In my world, a troll is someone who deliberately sets out to disrupt an internet discussion forum.

    Nope, that’s a threadjacker.

    A troll can also be someone who put up in comments bullshit that has no evidential basis (and when challenged, can’t link to any).

  18. katie
    Posted July 9, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Looks like you hit a nerve there, Dave.

    All the trolls have come out to play.

    In my world, a troll is someone who deliberately sets out to disrupt an internet discussion forum.

    In Katie’s world, a troll is anyone who disagrees with her world view.
    Welcome to democracy, Green style.

  19. David Garrett on Kiwiblog, on Ansell,
    “the thrust of the ad is spot on”.

    Hee haw hee haw hee haw!

  20. no michaela, the Treaty was a treaty between Maori Iwi and the British Crown. There was no general consent given by settlers, and most at the time had come here to eScape British Fascism.

  21. One law for all eh? Who’s law? Victorian laisse-faire? 20th century corporates? Current US lobbyists? Most of our laws have been written to suit commercial and allied vested interests at the expense of the interests of the general population. The Treaty of Waitangi was a treaty between two cultures, the signatories signing on behalf of their respective peoples. So before rabbiting on about “one law for all” please specify who’s law you refer to.

  22. Samian-the principal of one law for all only works when the law works for all people, laws can be discriminatory and biased and is dependent on the values and intentions of those who make them. This isn’t an historical issue, bad law is being legislated all the time. When Don Brash says “one law for all” I’m sure he is thinking of something much different than what you and I may support (I hope).

  23. David, mischief. But you have identified one issue that is clear. Act still does not know what it stands for yet.

  24. Kei te mihi nui ki a koutou – is everyone feeling just a little more Maorified this morning? It’s a relief in a way that Mr Ansell has ‘outed’ our cunning plan to reverse-colonise Aotearoa. But don’t worry, we will wait a couple more years before we make kids who come to school speaking English sit on the naughty chair.

    The revelations in the Herald today have upped the ante for Brash in particular. If he / Act continue down the track that Ansell advocates, they will be demonstrating a willingness to take the low road in pursuit of the alleged 20% of voters ((mostly blokes from Pakuranga apparently) who are open to it. I believe the Act caucus would be keen to go into the election fighting hard for their economic platform around property rights and individualism, and extremely reluctant to be going for the lowest common denominator votes that Ansell proposes are out there. It will be interesting (and revealing) to see which approach wins out.

  25. FFS, Ansell really is going for broke:

    People like Sharples are no doubt absolutely genuine in their Maoridom, just like the Pope is genuine in his Catholicism.

    But for purposes of extracting money from non-Maori, he is not a full, or even probably half-Maori. The same goes for most of these latter-day Maori. They say blood quantum doesn’t matter. Well they would, wouldn’t they?

    Our governments think it’s fine to suppress knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi. They don’t mention that the Treaty was the result of Nga Puhi chiefs not wishing to be eaten in retribution for their ethnic cleansing of southern tribes, who were at that time heading north with their new-found muskets to have them for dinner.

  26. yes..i too have been wondering what the ‘manly’ genteel-women voters in epsom are thinking about all this…

    ..about voting in november for ‘the strong-man party’

    (that’s another possible new name for them..)

    ..and calling them the tea-party..is almost an insult to the tea-party..

    (i could be wrong..but i don’t think they race-bait as a raison d’ etre…)

    ..this is klu klux klan territory…

    ..with a lips-foam-flecked ansell urging all to break out the crosses/white robes…

    ..and party down..)

    ..and yes..kucinich does indeed rock…

    ..he is also a vegan…(which warms my cockles..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  27. funniest comment on this:..(from dim-post..)

    “..Man, having Ansell and Perigo in charge of your public image is really…courageous….”

    (heh..!..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  28. in the interests of honesty in advertising..

    ..act should change their name to ‘the racist scumbag party’…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  29. LOLZ! I guess someone has to be to the right of the Act Party! I say go for it, expose yourselves completely, please. Good luck to you and your “men’s” party. Fucking funny!

  30. Ansell said: “These guys (Maori) have gone from the stone age to the space age in 150 years and haven’t said thanks.”

    This is excellent stuff from the actoids and deserves to be widely broadcast.
    It’s like looking right into the depths of an ulcer, rather than the bandage that covers it. Act – suppurating before our very eyes.

  31. Toad, probably because the newspaper has shareholders and stakeholders that have opinions on both sides? Just an idea.

  32. @Kevin Campbell 8:21 AM

    Kevin, Brash/Ansell are free to say whatever they want. But why should a newspaper not be free to not print what they say if they consider it breaches advertising standards.

  33. The real story regarding oppression of free speech in NZ is beginning to appear and its a sad sight. Well done that man John Ansell for simply standing up and saying what 80% of NZ already know.

  34. @ sprout. Yes I did. you appear to confusing polices and history with laws. I’m not debating the pros and cons of past events I am talking about the fundamental bottom line of human rights being underpinned by equality under the law. I marched in 1981 on this issue, I would again today.

  35. I grow tired of people who think freedom of speech means that every paper must report what they say. Freedom of speech means you are free to say what you like. That’s it.

    Freedom of speech does not place any obligation on other people to report your opinion for you.

  36. It’s a sad world indeed when myths are promulgated as fact and get widespread support. Those on benefits are lazy, solo mothers on DPB have babies for the money and an easy life, Maoris are a privileged group who have rights above other New Zealanders, all those who are rich deserve their wealth and shouldn’t have to pay tax on capital gains, unions are evil, the rights of the individual are paramount, women get paid less because….Mr Brash, Mr Thompson, Mr Key, Mr Brownlee, Mrs Tolley-just provide the evidence, the facts and convincing justification!

  37. Looks like you hit a nerve there, Dave.

    All the trolls have come out to play.
    Shame about the wee problem ACT has with acknowledging reality.

    Far be it from me to approve a post on kiwiblog (in-joke for the insiders), but if the majority of Nat faithful who frequent Farrar’s site are sucking in a deep breath and going ‘whoa, boy!’, then just maybe the few rich white men who are paid-up supporters of the Brash fan-club might like to reconsider how lonely the party will be at the end of the day.

    Cathy Odgers may have very Libertarian views, and be the nonpareil cheerleader for uncle Don, but if she’s the only woman left in the room on election night, it’s going to be a pretty boring party for you all. She may just end up charging per minute to listen to each of you whine …. ;-)

  38. “…a form of social liberalism that gives primacy to the rights of the individual.

    That’s not a worldview that I could ever sign up for,..”

    Yep, you said it in one mate. This is why I will never ever vote Green, and your brand is so toxic to so many people.

  39. (this comment is from that iwi-kiwi guy..ansell..@kiwiblog..

    the racism/bigotry runs deep in that one…)

    # John Ansell (753) Says:
    July 9th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    The problem with New Zealand is it’s full of white cowards who are too frightened of being called names to stand up for the truth.

    (And that’s just the ACT Party.)

    And the truth (if we are honest enough to admit it) is: for the last quarter-century, our country has been brownwashed by a bunch of scammers (aided and abetted by legions of white ‘useful idiots’) into feeling guilty for the supposed sins of our British great-great-grandparents.

    A sober reading of the facts reveals that some of these sins were actual (though far less sinful than the crimes perpetrated by Maori on Maori). Many others were highly exaggerated and delivered with lashings of emotional blackmail, for the purposes of extorting compensation.

    But of course we are New Zealanders and we are not allowed to tell our truth (as Alasdair Thompson recently found out to his cost).

    We are not allowed to speak out about state suffocation, Maorification, feminazism, National socialism, teacher unionism or any of the other evils that are dragging our country into the third world.

    Those who do have the guts to tell the truth are called nasty names like racists in the hope that, like snails, one light contact with politically-correct criticism will be enough to make them shrink back into their shells.

    And of course it works a treat.

    There are plenty of parties for pessimists, backward-looking Maori and white bedwetters. But there’s only one for optimists, achievement-oriented people and forward-looking Maori.

    ACT will not succeed until it champions the latter and tells the dishonest others to go to Hell.

    In short, their catchment is men and women who think like men. Not men and women who think like women. ACT is the party of the strong father, not the soft mother.

    (By strong father I include strong women like Rand, Richardson and Thatcher, and by soft mother I include weak men like Key.)

    I hope you people will think about that…”

    (whoar..!..eh..?..esp. the ‘strong dad’-stuff..eh..?..)

    interestingly almost all the rightwingers on that thread think the ad sucks..

    with many of them saying it has cost act their vote…

    ..to me..that proves this is no longer brash/orewa-time..

    ..he is yesterdays’ man..with yesterdays’ message..

    ..but whoar..!

    ..that ansell is a fucken ‘case’..eh..?..)

    (and samiam is a racist…?..no surprises there..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  40. “one law for all mantra”, is really another example of not so subtle racism
    WTF??? You have got to be joking. One law for all is the definition of non racism.

  41. If there’s one thing I agree with Brash on it’s race. Any policy that apportions rights on one person over another by virtue of their race is evil to the core.
    I find it unthinkable that The Greenz could think otherwise???

  42. Toad, I have never met a Jew I didnt like, including John Key, not that I would vote for him. Now that your left wing character asassination distraction is behind us how is the truth in this advertisement offensive?

  43. @Kevin Campbell 10:00 AM

    As I understand it, the Dom Post refused to publish the ACT ad because they judged it would be offensive to many (and would therefore likely impact negatively on their circulation). Surely I would have thought that was something those like you on the right would support, after all it is their newspaper so their decision to make.

    BTW, are you the Kevin Campbell of “John the Jew” notoriety?

  44. David, when a newspaper refuses to publish fact just because they dont agree with it is a serious issue for NZ. Your Green utopia is not one I want if the right to free speech is controlled by the media.

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