Duncan Garner: Brickbat for Metiria Turei, bouquet for Jacinda Ardern

Metiria Turei's implosion from a poorly judged and executed political campaign was the worst I've seen, writes Duncan Garner.


Metiria Turei’s implosion from a poorly judged and executed political campaign was the worst I’ve seen, writes Duncan Garner.

OPINION: Winners and losers, the buffoons and the brilliant: it’s time to highlight the best and worst of the last Parliament.

The class of 2014 has come to an end, replaced by a street fight to determine who gets the best seats when the House sits again.

But just imagine if Parliament had a piece of recycled mahogany on its walls, inscribed with the names of the biggest losers of each term. 

Duncan Garner on the set of The AM Show.


Duncan Garner on the set of The AM Show.

Metiria Turei’s name would be carved prominently into it, when humiliation and the fall from grace becomes official. 

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Tuku Morgan in 2003.


I have never witnessed such an implosion from a poorly judged and executed political campaign. 

And to those who claim sexism and media mistreatment and bullying of Turei, go and see what the media did to Tuku Morgan over a pair of lawful $89 underpants in 1996. 

We crucified him. I was there, I was shamefully part of it. 

If I haven’t already apologised to Tuku, I do so today. Sorry. You didn’t help yourself, but you didn’t deserve those king-hits.

Because the media and a few hitmen in the Labour Party were nothing short of racist beat-up merchants.

The campaign sought cheap Maori-bashing headlines and ultimately it was Labour’s political gain. All involved know it.

So there’s plenty of precedent for politicians getting hammered. But I struggle to have sympathy for Turei, who quite frankly always got a free ride from a few fawning fruitcakes in the press who loved calling her “Met”. 

Turei threw herself out there, she got what all self-serving and ultimately selfish politicians deserve – a feral and feverish examination by the media. 

She failed spectacularly. Her story failed to stand up and two normally mild-mannered Greens called Ken and Dave were told to shelve their principles under the section, “silence”. 

Good on them that they didn’t become blind sycophants like the others. Principles matter – please add intolerance to the Greens’ list of work-ons. 

Yes, Turei’s welfare fraud admission was brave and risky but two things matter: a decent strategy and telling the whole truth. 

From the real chance of a role in victory, the Greens might all be heading back to the welfare queue. Oh the irony.  

Can you believe the Greens may actually lose all their MPs at the election? It’s entirely possible based on the latest polling. Talk about an environmental disaster, the planet needs a powerful Green lobby present in Parliament.

But you can’t blame Turei entirely. There’s the Jacinda effect too and more on that shortly. 

But the Greens had blinkers on.  A small but rowdy bunch of Turei’s supporters on the social media platform Twitter backed her with a mix of anger and racism directed at the cheeky privileged “whities” who, god forbid, dared to have a view. 

Stupidly, the Greens mistook the Twitter action as reflecting wider voter support. Be that a lesson for all the players in the coming week. 

A Twitter hero does not mean you are either popular or doing the right thing. The biggest political losers are the ones who take the greatest fall. That’s Turei this past term. No debate needed.

It’s an insult to the New Zealander of Year Awards that she’s been nominated. She’s no hero.

And the winner of the past three years is obvious. Jacinda Ardern goes from bit-player list MP, to now being our next prime minister.

How good is she? I asked former prime minister John Key that question on The AM Show this week. He said the camera loves her. He rates her. It was high praise.

Her handling of the Aussie mini-scandal was Helen Clark-like, no surprise given Clark’s former spin mastermind, Mike Munro, is now on Ardern’s staff. 

Even National Party diehard Michelle “Bleed Blue” Boag was effusive in her praise, likening Ardern and her rise to another former PM: David Lange.  

But surely Arden’s opponents in the blue corner will try to now expose her failings over the campaign. They must find them first. 

So the narrative has been written. The “Rock” Bill English, versus the emerging “Rock star”, Ardern. 

Is it time to risk it all?  Is Ardern too inexperienced? Not from what I’ve seen. 

Crucially, Labour understands personality won’t win it on its own.

So stand by, I expect Labour to throw cash at the students this week. Oink oink – pork barrel politics at its finest.

The battle has hit the streets – two main street gangs and the same old stragglers, riff-raff and motley crew. 

Who are you going to choose to lead the class of 2017? I sense National is in trouble. 

 – Stuff