A decidedly unofficial repository of the news, views, and attitudes of some young people who quite like NZ First.
Monday, September 28, 2015
On Tracey Martin's Recent A-Gender: "Death Is As Nothing Compared To Vindication"
Early on Sunday morning, I received a text from a friend and political comrade which simply read: "Tracey's had a melt-down".
It was not until I hit stuff.co.nz a little later on in the day that I worked out what he was on about.
Splashed across the top of the link was, variously, '1950s respect for women' and 'NZ First MP Tracey Martin accept she could be gone at the next election'; with a byline of 'Former NZ First Deputy Leader Tracey Martin is pushing back at her Party's disregard for women'.
Now that caused my hackles to rise - and not just for the immediately obvious reason that we don't, as a Party, have a "disregard for women".
This is not to say we haven't had some problems in recent years - but as you'll go on to see, in my view, these were far more *Tracey-related* than the result of any actual serious structural discrimination going on within New Zealand First.
But first-up, let's consider the facts.
Going in to the last Election, New Zealand First's Parliamentary Caucus was nearly 50% female. We had a female Deputy Leader, a female Whip, a female President, a female Director-General, a small legion of well-respected Kuia, and many more strong women in positions of power, influence, and authority besides.
Even though it was never likely to attract as much immediate attention as the gender-split co-leadership positions of entities like the Green Party (or, for that matter, the Maori Party) ... I feel fairly comfortable in stating that New Zealand First was an organization which recognized competence and promoted success without regard to gender or race.
Unfortunately, round about mid-way through last year, things started to slip.
Tracey was newly-minted as our Deputy Leader. (And let me put it this way: if we had such a problem with women, why would we promote her to the position over the demonstrably more-performing Andrew Williams)
She'd always been an avowed and ardent feminist - but whereas before, this ideological affectation was used positively to support and empower ideas and other women ... now it was used to shut down dissent and silence criticism in her direction.
I still vividly remember, at our 2014 Convention, Tracey taking exception to a Youth Wing-authored policy remit about Parliamentary Kawa protocol. The NZ First member and Convention delegate speaking to it was a girl of Maori extraction. Tracey had previously argued with myself and some others from the Wing about the topic (before defriending us all on principle), so must have therefore assumed the remit was my doing.
Because no sooner had my comrade finished speaking, than Tracey leaped to her feet and started shouting at the poor girl (who had to leave the room in tears) about how she was letting herself be used as a tool of the "white-man's colonialist agenda" - which was said while looking at me square in the eye.
If you *dared* to disagree with her, in other words, you were not a fellow woman voicing a legitimate opinion - you were a brainwashed and subversive agent of Patriarchy, and fit only to be brutally if not mercilessly beaten and opposed.
In that situation, at least, the only efforts at female-marginalization I saw coming from *anywhere* within the Party emitted directly from Tracey herself.
In addition to this, subsequent conversations with a variety of figures have confirmed that Tracey allegedly saw fit to spread some *pretty* scurrilous rumours about Ria in order to try and end or limit her political involvement and career. It wouldn't be fair to Ria to air these in public - but suffice to say I'm thoroughly unimpressed with what appears to have gone on here; and the depths Tracey appears to have been prepared to plumb in order to keep another (younger) woman from assuming her rightful place in Parliament.
So when Tracey talks about there being an entrenched culture against women in the highest echelons of NZ First - I have to respectfully disagree.
One person is not a "culture".
Even if it *did* seem at times that she was able to wield disproportionate influence over the rest of us.
In any case, a couple of months ago the situation changed once again - and hopefully for the better.
Tracey found herself replaced as Deputy Leader by Ron Mark. At the time, she made a number of moves which appeared to indicate that an outward image of graceful dignity in defeat was the order of the day. She gave public interviews in which she cited him as the more experienced option - indeed, the "right person [for the] job".
It ain't hard to see who's got the profile and the ability necessary to carry us forward on into the future. And that's particularly the case given Tracey's curiously phrased sentiment about refusing to "go out on a limb for any of [us]" - which, needless to say, is antithetical in spirit to the Army-style comradeship and mutual loyalty which Ron Mark brings to proceedings.
As for her comments on Winston ... well, she's entitled to her opinion. But I somehow doubt that Winston opposed underage forced marriages, or supported paid parental leave purely because of the political capital to be made from either cause. Rather, I'd like to think that he did so, in each case, because it was the *right* thing to do.
Although as applies "seeing politics in everything" ... this is also something I'd not infrequently found Tracey capable of. She is, for all her faults, often quite a sharp lady - and very, very much capable of forward-thinking, planning and the pursuit of long-term goals.
My first reaction upon reading this article based on an interview with her, was to quote Metternich referring to the death of Talleyrand - "I wonder what [she] meant by that?"
In this instance, it seems altogether *far* too simplistic an explanation to blithely assume that Tracey would be so careless as to inadvertently get off-side with her Leader (as well as a large chunk of the rest of the Party) by tacitly insulting him with comments about gender-bias and his social views allegedly being stuck in the 1950s.
It's possible that the stress of her job has been getting to her and perhaps impairing her judgement - a supposition arguably supported by her comments about considering leaving Parliament when Winston goes (assuming, of course, that her other prognostication about finding herself down around Number 30 on the List doesn't come to pass first). But that doesn't seem quite the case, either. You don't - unless you're particularly neurotic and/or deranged - go out of your way to seek interviews with the Sunday Star when you're feeling a bit tired and emotional.
Instead, what I think might have happened, is this: Tracey has decided she's seen the 'writing on the wall' about some future calamity to afflict her (potentially assuming Ron Mark is about to do to her what she did to her own Deputy Leadership rival, Andrew Williams) - and rather than let it consume her gracefully, has instead decided to commit an egregious combination of "suicide by cop" and "dramatic, self-referential exit".
She's already predicted a substantial List demotion. This way, if/when it happens ... she can turn around and say "I told you so" - and point towards her alleged running afoul of an entrenched hypothetical culture of misogyny as reasoning for it.
The narrative's already handily out there in the media and percolating about the traps for when it happens - and she won't have to risk it fading quickly into obscurity like Asenati's attempt of the same trick when the latter accused the NZ First Party Board of Directors of being racist.