Labour’s Janus faces

Gareth Morgan has been in trouble for suggesting, in a sexist tweet, that Jacinda Ardern has the face of a pig.

If I were to characterise the Labour Party of the Ardern era, then I would use a different metaphor. I think that the party is a little like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces.
Janus was a confusing, and perhaps confused, god. While one of his faces smiled, the other might scowl. While one of his tongues spoke sweetly, the other might curse.
Jacinda Ardern is a talented and charismatic leader who has brought a smile and a message of hope to the election campaign. She is deservedly surging in the polls.

But at the same time as Ardern smiles and promotes progressive ideas like reducing child poverty and ameliorating Auckland’s housing crisis, Labour continues to run a troubling crusade against both immigration and immigrants. Labour has for the last couple of years been complaining that too many immigrants are entering New Zealand, and the party’s election manifesto promises to cut migrant numbers by almost half.

I disagree with Labour’s plans to cut immigration, but I accept that New Zealanders have the right to debate the subject, and that our various political parties have the right to put forward different policies on the subject.

What I find very ugly, and very ominous, is the rhetoric that Labour has used when it has promoted its immigration policy.

Labour has blamed, without evidence, problems as different including New Zealand’s high youth suicide rate and Auckland’s gridlocked roads on recent migrants to this country. And as they campaign for re-election the party’s MPs continue to use language that stigmatises and dehumanises migrants. In a recent forum of parliamentary candidates, for example, MP Louisa Wall complained that National had ‘flooded’ the country with ‘low-quality’ migrants. By using the word ‘flooded’ Wall compared migrants to a natural disaster, and suggested that New Zealanders’ safety is threatened by the new arrivals. When she used the phrase ‘low-quality’, Wall likened tens of thousands of migrants to defective goods, or inefficient machines. Without having met the vast majority of these people, she is ready to characterise them as less than fully human, and as undeserving of New Zealand citizenship.

Opinion polling shows that a huge majority of New Zealanders dislike Donald Trump and the policies he has pursued as American president. Trump’s ally and ambassador to New Zealand was booed by crowds when he drove from Wellington’s airport to his embassy. A number of Labour politicians have criticised the xenophobia of the Trump regime. Yet Labour, like Trump, is calling for drastic cuts to immigration. And Labour, like Trump, is using irresponsible and ugly rhetoric against migrants.

If Jacinda Ardern is serious about running a positive and hopeful election campaign, why won’t she stop the verbal attacks on new New Zealanders, and reverse Labour’s Trump-like policy on migration? I wouldn’t vote for Trump, and I can’t vote for Labour as long as the party runs this Janus-faced campaign.

Post by Scott Hamilton


  1. Corky

     /  August 23, 2017

    Great post although I’m surprised given Scott’s age and demographic he doesn’t realise the Left are renowned for their nastiness.

    , His appraisal of MP Louisa Wall is correct. Maori will increasingly carry the torch of anti immigration as they come to realise, regardless of legislation, they will become a more marginalised minority as European wake up to the fact they get on better with other minorities…and without the drama.

    • duperez

       /  August 23, 2017

      There’s a lot of nastiness in the world. Naturally that applies to our part of it too.

      To attribute renown ‘to the Left’ for their nastiness as if they have or perpetrate more of it, or theirs has some special quality, is just silly.

      • Corky

         /  August 23, 2017

        No, it’s the truth. They do perpetrate more nastiness. They can’t bear to lose.

        • duperez

           /  August 24, 2017

          The comment suggests you’re deep in a pool of arrant piffle. But it does bring to mind the saddest reaction I’ve ever seen from a public figure on losing – the Queen of losing – Michelle Boag.

          And as a group I would say many Cantabrians on an All Blacks Rugby World Cup loss when John Hart was coach.

        • Blazer

           /  August 24, 2017

          you have no evidence Corky,yet evidence about empathy and tolerance, highlighting that it is the wealthy who actually have very little has been presented.

  2. Brown

     /  August 23, 2017

    I see the great mistake here – while people from a foreign country and culture are outside NZ but wanting to come here they are not NZr’s so you cannot pick on NZr’s when you talk about them. To argue otherwise is saying we have a population of 7 billion or whatever lesser number it is who want to live here.

  3. Patzcuaro

     /  August 23, 2017

    When Morgan referred to “lipstick on a pig” I read it as Ardern being the lipstick on the pig, the pig being the Labour Party and Ardern being the lipstick which are it more attractive.

  4. Patzcuaro

     /  August 23, 2017

    In a small country like NZ immigration can be used to stimulate the economy but take the immigration out and the economy could fall on it’s face. It is not immigration that is the problem but the rate of immigration or rather population increase. If you increase the population without increasing the infra structure at a similar rate you end up with over valued housing and insufficient infrastructure.

  5. Blazer

     /  August 23, 2017

    ‘without evidence’….clearly you do not live in…Auckland.

  6. duperez

     /  August 23, 2017

    I’m still coming to terms with not being able to say a group was having a ‘gay’ old time.

    Now it looks like I can’t use the term “flooded’ in writing accounts of events when many visitors come into town for such as a Lions rugby game or Ed Sheeran.

    And of course I already can’t say ‘flocked’ for someone taking offence they were called sheep.

  7. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  August 23, 2017

    Labour have historically only supported the “correct” type of immigrant.

    I remember being very surprised to discover why my in-laws voted National.

    I hadn’t realised that WW2 War displaced persons weren’t able to come to NZ until the 1st Labour Government was overthrown.

    • Blazer

       /  August 24, 2017

      a policy from 70 years ago in a volatile world is your basis for an absolutely mischievious and completely false….claim.You should be ashamed of…yourself.

  8. sorethumb

     /  August 24, 2017

    It appears that gareth Morgan is Janis faced
    “The TOP test for immigrants is: if you can improve our standard of living we welcome you. If not, thanks but no thanks.”
    “We need to focus on skilled people that are looking for a more liberal and tolerant society in the wake of Brexit, Trump and the march of ugly nationalism engulfing Europe. We must seize this opportunity to make New Zealand the place where ‘talent wants to live’. Why “talent”? Because it creates jobs and incomes for New Zealanders.”
    [I’m claims about our great life style given that it has changed for the worse over the last 30 years. It seems to me that people can keep making these claims but the world just exists in their head. We used to get Mercer Reports but they werefor top flight people who lived in the best locations etc.]
    [I’m also sckeptical of optimistic scenarios like “knowlege economy – didn’t happen. The best idea was Sir Paul Callahagn’s]
    “There’s a big downside from too many migrants, particularly if they are working in low-skilled jobs.”
    [same as “low quality people” but is semantics?]

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