I sometimes quip that the National Party is just Labour without the identity politics – and now that National has taken Labour’s soul and turned it into a three-term Government and the Greens have been outflanking it over on the hard left, it now looks like it is embracing this misbegotten mire of identity politics simply because it is all the political territory it has left.
Leader Andrew Little has begun his election year, the most important year of his political life, by courting open revolt in his party. Not to rush through important policy; nor to take a controversial stand against the government; but to select a man for a high list place in his party.
A man who has no qualifications for the role except for his lifetime role as a professional Maori.
A man who’s made a career out of his race.
Selected, because his selection plants another flag in the mire.
This is bad enough. Yet the revolt from the grassroots against Willy Jackson’s ascension is if anything worse. Those revolting are not dismayed about Willy Jackson being a no-talent blowhard nor at his lifetime of identity politics – nor even that his selection would leave no place on the list for the great talent that the party has been incubating. No, they are upset because his selection offends the teachers unions and the party’s other identitarian wings:
Four main concerns are raised [by Jackson’s opponent: His ‘abhorrent’ Roast Busters interview [three years ago], a lack of ‘courage to fight homophobia’, his advocacy for charter schools and a lack of gender balance in Labour's caucus should Mr Jackson obtain a high position on the list.
Their mire grows ever deeper.
UPDATE: Former Labour MP MAryan Street confirms it’s identity politics all the way down.