Will this election include a campaign on race?

CHRIS TROTTER
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2012

Relevant offers

Chris Trotter

Blair's essay something to retch over Labour's Right should be wary of Left hook Was he really Al Qaeda? Ministers - the tribe has spoken Why did our soldiers really die? Unintended irony in Key Nazi poster Our sense of community is gone Early election call brilliant Revolution backed by the USA Japan doesn't play hardball to lose battle with Sea Shepherd

OPINION: Every student editor dreams of a scoop - a major story that nobody else, especially the mainstream media, knows anything about.

That's exactly what "Treatygate" is - a scoop. Joe Stockman, editor of the Otago University student magazine Critic, and his news editor, Callum Fredric, were first off the mark with a story that has potentially huge ramifications.

In Fredric's own words: "Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2 million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a 'colourblind' (racially neutral) state."

According to Critic, the man with the plan is John Ansell, mastermind of the National Party's very nearly successful "Iwi/Kiwi" billboard campaign of 2005.

If he manages to lay his hands on anything like $2m, Mr Ansell's proposed campaign to "expose the 40-year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations" could gain considerable political traction.

Whatever you think of him, Mr Ansell's propagandist credentials are hard to dispute.

The involvement of Mr Crimp is another matter. The elderly Invercargill millionaire's only foray into national politics could hardly be described as an unqualified success.

Mr Ansell's propaganda would, presumably, be communicated to the public, who might balk at associating themselves with such a controversial duo.

It is also the very real possibility that the Press Council, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Authority or the Human Rights Commission might intervene to ban or modify messages intended to "expose the bias [in favour of Maori] and enrage the public".

Herein lies the difficulty confronting those who remain unconvinced by the bicultural orthodoxy of New Zealand's political establishment.

It has spent the best part of 40 years surrounding itself with laws and conventions, tribunals and authorities, to the point where it is virtually unassailable from without.

Mr Ansell and Mr Crimp are, therefore, likely to discover that any full-scale frontal assault on its institutional walls is easily repelled.

The bicultural consensus is, however, acutely vulnerable to subversion from within. Thinking back over the past eight years, Mr Ansell should ask himself: "Why was my 2005 campaign so effective?" The simple answer is Don Brash.

The mass racial animus that Mr Ansell is so skilful at arousing remains politically accessible, but only to a person with impeccable establishment credentials - someone the opponents of biculturalism can envisage moving into a position of power strong enough to bring down the 40-year bicultural consensus.

Ad Feedback

Neither Mr Ansell nor Mr Crimp is that someone.

There is, however, something already in the political pipeline that might provide the impetus for a politician bearing unimpeachable establishment credentials to avail himself, or herself, of Mr Ansell's skills and Mr Crimp's dollars. That something could very easily be dubbed "Treatygate".

The report of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, due by September 2013, may prove to be a bicultural bridge too far for the Pakeha majority.

Set up at the insistence of the Maori Party after the 2011 general election, the Constitutional Advisory Panel is dominated by individuals sympathetic to the bicultural cause. Their recommendations are, therefore, likely to be challenging.

Mr Ansell and Mr Crimp would probably describe them as a ticking timebomb, but, if so, their casualties will not be found in the National Party.

Indeed, a cynic might say that the National Party could hardly have constructed a situation more certain to rebound to its advantage. Just think about it. A report no National, NZ First or Conservative Party voter will accept, but which no Labour, Green, Mana or Maori Party MP can reject.

And who bears a more unimpeachable set of establishment credentials than the prime minister of New Zealand?

Get ready for another scoop, Critic. The story exposing National's 2014 contract with "Treatygate Productions" and anonymous donations totalling $2m.

- The Dominion Post

Comments

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content