Alf is a great admirer of the National Party’s female cabinet ministers (although with enough whisky on board he might concede he harbours just a wee tinge of envy that they have been promoted ahead of him).
He has especially admired the feistiness of Anne Tolley and Judith Collins in recent days in putting them Green tossers in their place.
Anne kicked things off in Parliament by saying something Alf has always wanted to say but wouldn’t, lest the Opposition harpies accuse him of sexism, which is bound to put him in bad odour with local members of the Women’s Institute or Rural Women.
What Alf had always wanted to say is that Metiria Turei shouldn’t kit herself out in very expensive clobber whenever she goes out to bat for the poor people.
Anne Tolley could say this, of course, because she is a woman, and women can say things about their political sisters without being accused of sexism just as certain coloured people can use the “N” word without being denounced as racists and Jews can make jokes about Jews without being accused of antisemitism.
Alf did not anticipate that Anne would be denounced not of sexism but (in vituperative terms) of being a racist and a bully.
Pete George has done us a favour by reproducing what Anne actually said, so we can all see for ourselves what the fuss was all about.
Tolley’s full comments that sparked the claims of racism by Metiria Turei:
DEBATE ON PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT
15:15:58~Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Police)
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Police): Well, the 2014 election year has begun predictably. National led off and announced its education policy, which was focused on lifting educational achievement for all New Zealand children. It was well targeted and as a result parents, teachers, and school leaders love it. It was well-thought-through and it was well costed, and we know how we are going to fund it.
The Greens—well, the Greens held a picnic and I think what resulted from that was that they gave the kids a sandwich, actually—they gave four kids a sandwich. [Interruption]
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Order! Can I have some respect for the member trying to address the House? Courtesy is contagious, Mr Mallard.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Thank you Mr Speaker. They insulted all the parents of kids in low-decile schools by saying essentially that those people cannot feed their kids and that their kids are unhealthy.
More important, the Greens reinforced their lack of ambition for these kids by confirming their belief that poor kids cannot learn. It is not that the poor kids are not bright or that they are not hard working; they simply cannot learn because their parents do not earn enough dollars. I find that insulting.
While we are on insults, I am actually rather insulted as a constituent MP. I serve an electorate day after day, week after week, meeting and talking with people in my home communities. I have to say that they are not well off. In my electorate, I represent some of the poorest communities in New Zealand.
I am actually insulted to be lectured on how out of touch I am with average New Zealanders by a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle, and comes to the House dressed in $2,000 designer jackets, and tells me that I am out of touch.
Well, actually, I say to the Green MPs: “Come into my patch and have a look. Come into my patch.”
Anne didn’t name names.
Who was she banging on about, when she referred to a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle, and comes to the House dressed in $2,000 designer jackets and tells her she is out of touch?????
Alf was curious and had arranged to have a chat with Anne to find out who she was criticising.
The guilty party put her hand up.
It was Metiria Turei (and she threw in the racism accusation to inflame things).
“I’m shocked that the National Party would attack me and my home and my appearance. I think it is a racist attack,” she said. “I think they seem to think it is all right for them to wear perfectly good suits for their professional job but that a Maori woman from a working-class background is not entitled to do the same. I think it is pure racism.”
Asked how the attack was racist, Ms Turei said she shopped at the same places some of her opponents did.
Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme fleshed out this remark.
She said other women in Parliament shop at the same stores as she does and speak out about poverty, but don’t receive the same criticism.
She says it can only be racism.
“I am the only one to which they have directed these very personal and very petty attacks. The only difference I can see is the fact that I’m a Maori woman from a working class background. So I can’t come to any other conclusion.
She also said the bullying and attacks on her personally by National ministers have been happening for the past year.
Mrs Turei believes she is being singled out by government ministers for personal criticism and there are other MPs who speak out against poverty but no one is subjected to the same attacks.
The absurdity of this accusation is palpable, of course.
Crusher Collins came out to bat for Anne.
“Anne is not a racist and Metiria cries racist every time someone points out her sanctimonious hypocrisy.”
Mrs Turei was being “a sensitive little sausage”, and if she was so concerned about poverty, “she could always sell a jacket and feed a child for a year”.
But Alf has one reservation about all this.
He is bothered by the thought that Turei is a hypocrite for championing poor people while wearing expensive clothes.
Alf’s togs are modestly priced and he does not claim to be an example of sartorial splendour.
He prefers gumboots to designer shoes.
This should not disqualify him from championing the interests of rich people.