Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.
Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.
Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:
Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.
“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”
There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.
Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.
What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).
But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.
A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.
More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.
Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass
A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.
Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.
Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.
“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”
“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”
Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.
The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.
Judith Collins had a dig at Nash
Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.
“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”
After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.
Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.
“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.
Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.
“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.
“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”
Collins pinged him again:
Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.
“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.
Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.
…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.
That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.