Change of heart? What has prompted Grant Robertson, the "reluctant radical" of the 1990s, to suddenly become the MP for the Commissariat?
IT’S A FUNNY OLD WORLD. There was a time when I would have given a great deal to hear Grant Robertson make a forceful, take-no-prisoners, stand against injustice.
Like the day after the Police had battoned, kicked and punched Otago students protesting outside the University Registry against tuition-fee increases. On that day, 29 September 1993, he had a crowd of 1,000+ angry students standing before him in the Union Hall; students who, just minutes before, had forced two plain-clothes cops to creep, shame-faced out of the building.
How hard would it have been to persuade those students to return to the Registry to demonstrate their disgust at the University of Otago Council’s complicity in the Police assault on the young OUSA members who, just 12 months earlier, had elected him their President?
What did he do?
He introduced Winston Peters.
It was after that performance that I dubbed Grant the "reluctant radical". Well, it would seem that Grant ain’t reluctant anymore. Now, we are told, he is leading the charge against Phil Goff, his own party leader, for daring to call the Maori Party to account over Hone Harawira and the ETS legislation, and for questioning the wisdom of repealing the Foreshore & Seabed Act.
It seems I was wrong when I said that the "Liberal Left" lacked influence. For reasons I have my strong suspicions about (but will reserve judgment on for the time-being) it would seem that the "Commissariat" (a much better description DYT?) has found itself a champion.
Way-to-go Grant! Introduce all the viciousness of the culture-wars that tore the Left apart in the 1980s to your own caucus. Undermine the only Labour leader with the remotest chance of winning back the 150,000–200,000 voters John Key wooed away in 2008. Display for all the world to see the one thing guaranteed to turn voters off in their thousands – disunity.
Yeah, Grant, that’s truly "radical". That’ll help.