Sunday, February 17, 2008

Coddington on Rich

Deborah Coddington writes about Katherine Rich;

Rich is also loyal. She was sacked by Brash, remember, for flatly refusing to go around the country trying to sell a welfare policy stating women on welfare would get no increase for a second child, and single mums should consider adoption.

How could Rich, mother of two very small children and sitting pretty on a substantial taxpayer-funded salary, tell struggling beneficiaries to live on the smell of oily rags? She was correct to refuse, but she was cruelly punished - not only by the party - for sticking to her guns.


This observation is as much about Deborah's discomfit as it is Katherine's. As an MP I believe Deborah felt the same ill-ease. My own earlier comment about Katherine being a loss to National because she is intelligent was genuine. I won't forget that she wrote an excellent report about welfare reform and showed a sound grasp of what should and could be done for starters. But then she bailed on it.

Why should we keep paying women to have more children when already on welfare and what is wrong with a young pregnant single female trying to finish her education, or have a career, or travel, considering adoption as an alternative to getting stuck on welfare for years as an unskilled, unemployable mother?

If Katherine refused to say these things because it made her feel personally hypocritical or, heaven forbid, judgemental, then she was either letting her opponents silence her or she was in the wrong party.

I have two children. I am financially comfortable. I don't feel unqualified to advocate welfare reform because of my personal circumstances. Hell, do we have to find a beneficiary to stand on a soap box before anyone will listen? In fact, that is what political parties do. They buy into this nonsense. Get a Maori or you can't credibly talk about matters Maori. Get someone who used to be on the DPB so we can talk about welfare credibly. Think Donna Awatere Huata, Paula Bennett, Metiria Turei, Sue Bradford. And then they use these people as shields. How can we be racists or beneficiary bashers when we have Maoris and ex-beneficiaries in our midst??

But this is just collectivist crap. Your skin colour, your sex, your sexual orientation are NOT more important than the ideas that drive you.

If you are committed to your beliefs then it doesn't matter that someone rings you up at some ungodly hour and screams "rich bitch" down the phone. Or writes letters about the material symbolism of the wine rack they saw in the photo of you sitting at your living room table. If you really do want better for those people and children who are being hurt by the welfare system then you have to take a deep breath and carry on.

I suspected this was why Katherine and Brash parted company on the reform front. Having had it confirmed I now think she is most definitely doing the right thing.

Until the right starts valuing MPs like Rich for their loveliness, as equally as they promote MPs like Judith Collins for their balls, they'll never get women like me to vote for them.

I care neither for "loveliness" nor "balls" . I want the truth and I don't care whose mouth it comes out of.

Coddington's column really tells us what is wrong with politics right now. There is precious little courage of conviction.

5 comments:

James said...

Until the right starts valuing MPs like Rich for their loveliness, as equally as they promote MPs like Judith Collins for their balls, they'll never get women like me to vote for them."

So Debs is saying that Women are mindless dollies who want warm fuzzys and pay and pray welfarism rather that truth and reality based solutions to problems because these are too hard and upset the poor diddum widdum girlies....collectivist, sexist bullshit I think...


silly cow...

Cactus Kate said...

If Coddington could write a column without mentioning Bob Jones, her "QC husband" or her former partners, then one might take her more seriously as an individual.

"Women like me" I see it with Coddington are the spineless, lack of principled, man-will do it for me if I flatter my eyelids at them, I think I am right wing but what about welfare? privileged women who should stay at home and bake cakes.

I thought Rich was a little better than this to be honest.

So Coddington won't vote ACT or National (now all the flakey women have departed) and left the Libertarianz. Who on earth is left?

Blue Belle said...

It's easy to feel sorry for someone in difficult circumstances - it's easy to throw money their way. It's much harder to look at the causes and to say; no, you will not be rewarded for making poor choices, we will not allow you to make a career of being a beneficiary, so start making better choices right now.

The experiment has failed. Unlimited welfare hurts far more people than it helps. 8 years of Labour has seen no improvement in social stats - it's time for a new approach and if Katherine cannot face that then I guess she made the right decision. I wish her well.

Anonymous said...

From Deborah Coddington:
Lindsay your points are good ones, but they miss my point, which is that as a politician, you have to "sell" policies. Rodney Hide once told me, and he was right, that the most important thing an MP can do is get votes. That's why Rodney and Muriel Newman were so good for ACT - they could get support and votes because they both love campaigning. To get something from someone, eg a vote, you have to be able to sell them something, and both Hide and Newman, again, are great salesmen. However, they both knew how hard it is to go round and sell ANY welfare policy - it just turns people off because welfare is now so prevalent, most people all know someone on welfare and feel they are attacking or undermining them. I'm not saying it's morally right to expect a handout, or a larger handout when you have more kids - you know I wrote about that before I was an MP because I quoted you in the article. But you're not going to get votes by being hardline, no matter how principled that may be. A few weeks back you wrote a good post, entitled "Why I Miss Act", and you disagreed with Rodney's claim that ACT never got anywhere by attacking people. It might have reinforced support from the few principled people like you, but he's right, it didn't increase ACT's support.
And to those anonymous comments who come over all emotional and personal, you give me great comfort as it is true that when your opponents resort to ad hominem attacks, you know they've lost the argument.

Lindsay said...

Deborah, The point I made in the post about ACT was quite clear but has been overlooked by you and at least one other blogger. I never advocated attacking "people". I want ACT to attack policies and practices.

I have a very close friend who is on the DPB. She knows how I view aspects of the benefit system. I don't shy away from talking about it. It doesn't follow that because I attack the welfare system I am attacking her personally. But she can see, possibly assisted by our conversations, that welfare is the last thing she wants for her kids.

Muriel Newman is a good example of what Katherine Rich wasn't. She would never let her income as an MP compromise her convictions and outspokeness about welfare.

I can't go along with telling people only what they want to hear in an attempt to get votes. Or watering down policy to widen the potential net. I'm just not interested in that kind of politics. But there are other ways to influence change apart from being a politician. As you know.