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.
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