Worn down by a campaign that began in 2005

The Dominion Post 10 November 2008

Well, the grinding and the clanking of the stage machinery has finally come to an end, and the curtain has gone up on a new play. After nine years of left-wing government, New Zealanders by the narrowest of margins have elected a government of the Right. Quite what would have happened had they failed to follow the stage directions written for them by the impresarios of conservatism is an interesting point to ponder. Because the 2008 election campaign really began the night the 2005 general election ended; the night when New Zealanders courageously refused to stick to the Right’s carefully crafted and lavishly funded script and returned Helen Clark’s government to office. In the intervening three years, the angry drumming of the Right’s multi- faceted campaign has never ceased to assail our ears.

Talkback radio: hard-right from one end of the dial to the other. The daily press: partisanship on a scale not seen by New Zealanders in more than 30 years. Television: dumb and dumber. Right-wing lobby groups: the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Family First, the Free Speech Coalition quoted, feted and funded as if their reactionary gobbets of fear and rage were the products of sage and sober reflection. (!!!!)

It was the news media that dubbed Sue Bradford’s attempt to confer upon children the same protections against assault and battery that adults enjoy “the anti-smacking bill”, faithfully reproducing Family First’s public relations talking-points. More than any other factor, it was this misrepresentation of Ms Bradford’s bill as an attack on parents’ rights that soured so many of Labour’s traditional supporters, especially in its crucial working-class heartland. The drop of eight percentage points in Labour’s share of the party vote in Auckland represents a huge victory for a resurgent Christian Right.
Family First Comment: Sounds like sour grapes!!! But Chris, it was Sue who called it the anti-smacking bill. Not the media, not the so-called Right, not Family First. But hey – facts are irrelevant aren’t they Chris.