Thursday, September 03, 2020

When you are in a hole, stop digging

Just when it looked like James Shaw had apologised for his private school funding scandal and might be able to move on, the Greens have leaked footage from their crisis meeting in an effort to throw some of the blame back on Labour:

A leaked video of last week's Green Party crisis call shows James Shaw claimed the controversial Green School funding was given "verbal sign-off" by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

The comments contradict Hipkins who's repeatedly stated he did not back the proposal.

RNZ has been sent footage of the Friday night Zoom meeting in which Shaw sought to assuage party members who were furious at his advocacy for a nearly $12 million funding package for the private Green School in Taranaki.

In the video clip, Shaw tells members that Hipkins "wasn't intimately involved in the decision" but gave it tacit approval in a conversation.

"He did, sort of, give at least a verbal sign-off to the project," Shaw said.

I understand Shaw providing the context of his fuckup to his members, and I understand some people in the Greens being angry at Hipkins for so publicly throwing Shaw under a bus when the news first emerged. What I don't understand is anyone thinking that this excuses Shaw's poor judgement in any way, or somehow takes the blame off him. Sure, Hipkins did his best to screw the Greens: that's his job, he's the enemy! (and any Green supporter who doesn't understand that Labour is an enemy has not been paying attention). But it wasn't Hipkins who was bound by a party policy of opposition to private schools, for example. And it wasn't Hipkins who was digging in his heels on something contrary to party policy, while surrendering utterly on core policy issues.

By shopping this around to the media, the Greens have just kept Shaw's mistake in the public eye, while undermining the sincerity of his apology to his voters. It makes them look dirty and insincere as well as being sellouts. And as a party which trades on its reputation for integrity and doing politics differently, they really can't afford that at the moment.