Thursday, December 3, 2009

Left hand, meet right hand

Now, I'm not trying to say that all the people writing in the same newspaper have to interpret things in the same way. I'm certainly not saying that everyone has to agree on every single aspect of everything. But I going to say that I find it a bit odd when the writer(s) of the editorial don't seem to have read their own newspaper.

It's not even that unusual. The editorial is usually, although not always, a reasonably sober reflection on the issues that are at the same time being manically screamed about on the front pages and the website. What interested me today about this was reading the Herald's two musings on the Maori Party's dealing with Hone Harawira, the party having announced that Harawira would be staying on. Let's just say that they took a rather divergent view of the outcome.

John Armstrong, "Political Commentator of the Year", wrote a piece entitled, "Maori Party flouting fundamental law of politics", where he argued that the Maori Party "made a complete hash of" the situation. The editorial, meanwhile, is headlined, "Party gets full marks for Harawira test" and claims that the party has "handled this affair well".

Put that down to inexperience, a lack of established procedures for maintaining discipline, plus being a small party constantly distracted by other priorities - points made by co-leader Pita Sharples. However, he also insisted the party had handled the Harawira problem "our way". The question is whether in choosing "our way", the Maori Party can flout a fundamental law of politics, namely that disunity both personnel-wise and policy-wise is death.
Yesterday, he issued his third apology and this time it was unequivocal. In the way of these things it seemed more abject than the offence warranted but this incident was about more than meets the eye. It has been a test of the Maori Party's status as a competent, respectable and effective participant in national politics. It may even prove to be the last gasp of mindless antagonism.
Of course, political predictions are a chump's game. Much like short-term weather forecasting, the best 'prediction' strategy is usually to claim that tomorrow's political situation (and weather) will be much the same as today's; you miss all the turning points, but at least you right more often than not, just like I was right about it being overcast in Auckland today. What, to me, that means is that how this series of Hone-Harawira-related events will affect the future of the Maori Party, the current parliament, and NZ politics in general is pretty inscrutable, and I don't think there's any more reason to accept Armstrong's account, or the editorial's, than there is to believe the one scrawled on the toilet cubicle wall.

Presumably, however, that's not going to be the position of the Herald editorial board, employers as they are of a collection of political experts whose job it is to interpret political events. So I do find it odd that, in writing 'their' editorial, 'they' haven't really bothered to find out what their leading political 'expert' thinks of the issue. Maybe they have, of course, and I'm not going to call a side that I think is 'correct', but it's odd to see two positions in the same paper that are less 'divergent', and more 'completely opposite'.


  1. With that Editorial on one side and Garth George's rubbishing of the Brash Report on the other, today's opinion pages were like entering Bizarro World.

    The Editorial is obviously passed around the paper's opinion writers - you can always tell when John Roughan's done one. I'd love to know who wrote today's.

  2. Was it just me, or did Garth actually make some sort of sense today?

    Although I thought it was a bit hypocritical.

  3. Says Garth: "Absurdities abound, the first of which was the appointment of people like Dr Brash and Mr Caygill who, along with their soulmate, Act Party seat-warmer Roger Douglas, are not just yesterday's men but last century's men."

    Which would make Garth...?

  4. you could hardly fail having a go at the 2025 report.