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Editorial: Brash shows lack of leadership

Wed 1 Dec 2004 In: Features

In his statement declaring that the nation is "deeply divided" over the issue of equal rights and responsibilities for glbt relationships National Party leader Don Brash is clearly pandering to the most naive political motives. His statement language reeks of the heavy handed and manipulative tracts of religious fundamentalists such as the Maxim Institute. But he is also showing a lack of political vision and leadership, two qualities the National Party has desperately needed for years. National has a big, big problem. Labour has become the party of the left and centre of New Zealand's political spectrum. Increasingly right-wing parties such as National, ACT, NZ First and United Future are squabbling over whatever they can get of the extreme right vote. All recent polls show that, despite the controversial nature of the Civil Unions and other government-led legislation in some quarters, the majority of New Zealanders remain comfortable with Labour's direction. Labour, the party which is pushing ahead with this important piece of social reform legislation, is picking up more and more kudos for its legislative programme. It is way out ahead of National and Helen Clark, who continues to stand firm behind the Civil Unions legislation, is way out ahead of Don Brash as preferred prime minister. Wake up Don! Don Brash is the leader of the most significant right-wing party in the country, still the only opposition party with any real chance at governing. His media-catching views and voting record set the public agenda for the party, influencing any public perception of National as a reasonable option to govern. But to govern it will need to be steered towards middle New Zealand where there are more potential votes than out at the extreme, bigoted right. But what does National's leader do? He chooses to listen to the shrill and calculated voices of misinformation and bigotry and position his party even more firmly out on the loony right where it will continue to squabble with the leftovers while Labour sails ahead for yet another term in power with the mandate of the left and centre of New Zealand. On the other hand it is clear that Ashraf Choudhary MP is a man with a vision which is not clouded by the rantings of the extreme, intollerant right in his NZ Muslim constituence and can see the need for an all embracing equality in law and a separation of religion and state. His decision to support Civil Unions to foster the spirit of inclusivness which has seen Muslim immigrants welcomed to this predominantly non-Muslim country is laudable. But by his callow and shortsighted turnaround on the Civil Unions legislation Don Brash is highlighting his lack of leadership ability. The sad thing for National is that he truly was their best chance of charting a course back from the far right wilderness to a position of political strength and respect. Jay Bennie - 1st December 2004    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Wednesday, 1st December 2004 - 12:00pm

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