Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stupid as well as spineless

Labour's leadership contest has seen some useful questions raised about its core policies (and particularly the NeoLiberal policy of raising the retirement age - naturally, after labour's ageing NeoLibs have got theirs). But today, Andrew Little went beyond that, attacking plans for Iain Lees-Galloway to continue with Maryan Street's death with dignity bill:

Labour leadership contender Andrew Little says he does not want a colleague to restart the highly divisive debate on legalising euthanasia when the party is trying to restore confidence with voters.


Mr Little said he supported legalising euthanasia but he would rather the bill was not returned to the ballot.

"The challenge for the next three years is for us to emphasise issues of priority to a broad cross-section of New Zealanders and I'm not sure [euthanasia] is one of them.

"For a party that's at 25 per cent in the polls, where there is a clear issue about the level of trust and confidence in us to lead and be in government, this is not a priority issue."

There's an echo here of Labour conservatives' attacks on members bills on marriage equality and abortion as well: "not a priority, not the right time". Because despite their "personal support", standing up for people's fundamental rights was simply not a risk that those careerist, bigot-pandering politicians were willing to take. Sadly, Little seems to be cut from the same cloth: a cowardly careerist, willing to throw anyone under the bus rather than have a "risky" public debate.

But Little isn't just being spineless here - he's also stupid. Like marriage equality, euthanasia enjoys consistently high public support (63% in 2012, and similar levels all the way back to 1982). This is not an issue which will get Labour offside with "middle New Zealand". Instead, like marriage equality, its a chance to get onside with them, to demonstrate that unlike the rest of Parliament (which lags public opinion precisely because of this risk aversion), they are listening. Or does Little think that a Labour MP leading a campaign on an issue which enjoys broad public support is a bad thing?