05 May 2011

"I ain't no great fan of diplomacy neither"

There's no need for me to join the chorus of condemnation of Harawira's comments about bin Laden, but perhaps someone should have a word with him about not putting his foot in it, and about grammar (don't use double negatives!)

Oddly enough, he could take some succour from the fact that the US military inappropriately used the code-name 'Geronimo' for bin Laden. According to the amusing notes on the Guardian website, Geronimo was indeed a defender of indigenous rights who fled US forces for the cause. But I'm afraid that that's as close as the comparison gets. Osama bin Laden comes from one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families, he inherited a fortune, and he used that for terrorist activity with the aim of establishing Islamic theocracy, and not 'freedom' as I would understand that word.

Bin Laden is hardly a freedom fighter, and the revolutionary events in the Middle East recently just show us further evidence of how wrong and how irrelevant his approach had become.

The sad thing about Harawira (to get back to NZ) is that, even though he may be a great guy, his ineffective leadership style has proven already to be a disaster for a party that could have provided a real alternative for working-class disfranchised people. (And I'm already using the past tense!) It's unfortunate for low-income New Zealanders (of any ethnicity) that the emerging alternative has such a loose cannon for a leader.

It's also unfortunate that Don Brash is able to use race relations as the most prominent plank for the debate so far, thus obscuring debate about and analysis of his proposed economic policies. I'd say it suits him quite nicely to have lefties and Maoris calling him a racist, as that just reinforces support for him on the right.

A quick judgement on Brash's economic ideas, however, might go something like: Brash wants to use ultra-dry economic liberalism to help NZ 'catch up with Australia', but this pushes policies that no Federal Australian government has adopted. If we want to emulate Australia, that hardly sounds like a good way to begin. In any case, we all know that the consequences of Brash-style liberalism will mean widening gaps between rich and poor. That's a predictable outcome, and that's the ground on which the Mana Party ought to be tackling him, if they can.

For different reasons than Harawira, though, history tells us that Don Brash has rather unfortunate leadership qualities too. Do you recall the 'walking the plank' photo opportunity, or the pre-election quote "I am not a liar"? It will be interesting to wait and see if Brash can overcome the 'foot-in-mouth' disease that Harawira and he seem to share.


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