Monday, July 7, 2008

A dig too far

Like several commentators I have to say that the Labour
Government is going too far in trying to demolish John
Key’s personal credibility. I agree with John Armstrong
of the New Zealand Herald when he concludes that the
Prime Minister's attack on Key last week may have done
more damage to her credibility than his. It smacks of
unsavoury politics, digging for dirt like this.

I can understand how Helen Clark must feel: more than
any politician in living memory she has suffered, and had
to survive, a series of vicious personal attacks and nasty
innuendoes. Even her husband has been dragged through
the mire. As a female Prime Minister she has had to bear
the brunt of a powerful undertow of sexism and
anti-feminism that, while it may be nowhere near so bad
as it was when she started out in politics in the 1970s, is
still very much there in the minds of men. So she may well
have thought, fair’s fair, no holds barred etc. But two
wrongs don’t make a right, and her best strategy—not to
say the decent human thing—would be to keep herself and
her government well out of that kind of politics.

Even leaving aside the morality of it, it just looks plain
desperate. Coupled with a recent tendency to arrogance,
into which both Clark and Michael Cullen have lapsed at
times, such tactics demean a government with a proud
record of social-democratic progress. It owes itself and its
potential voters a clean hard-fought campaign based on
policies, not personalities.

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