Russell McVeagh or Jacinda Ardern's Labour? Who Did It Better? - Updated
Could Jacinda Ardern's Labour actually end the extremist #nzmetoo movement for good?
To ponder this eventuality, let us cast our minds back to what kicked off the #metoo movement in New Zealand and the steaming pile of outrage centring around Russell McVeagh.
One of the central complaints was not against a white middle class dirty old male. The accused was actually of a minority ethnicity. Not that we were told of that. There was pile in after pile politically in assuming they were all predatory dirty old white men. They copped it for months.
Fast forward to Labour's recent case and the alleged recidivist creep is again I can tell you not a white middle class dirty old male. Why does this matter?
Because so much of what is assumed of these men is that they are. They are running the companies, performing the sexual harassment and then sanctioning it and covering it up. I do not wish to get too down on Alison Mau as I didn't mind listening to her in her pre-woke days and women need support when raped, abused and harassed, but her involvement in #nzmetoo seemed to coincide conveniently with the decline of her career in more commercial enterprises. It seemed a useful re-brand to be the face of #nzmetoo.
But what happens when an organisation proud of its own diversity has the same problem and they deal with it badly?
We were conned into the assumption for a while that all old white male lawyers needed to change their behaviour. Then it was CEO's and directors, then it was well.....what happened?
Stories quietly came out the handsy rapey men could actually be minorities too. This never fits the #nzmetoo narrative. They could be gay men, they could be Maori, Island, Asian, Pakistani and Indian men. The cover up and obfuscation as it seems in Labour can occur from women, Maori, Indian, lesbian, homosexuals. A bad alcohol culture existed in youth politics overseen by adults in the Party. Their own interns were abused by seniors.
Russell McVeagh and lawyers got all the bad, sensationalised press. The world was ending, clients were pressured by social justice warriors to end relationships with the firm, any man was a target in a position of power in New Zealand if women didn't think he measured up to their level of wokeness. Every man but the liquid steel-blooded colossus that is Sir Bob Jones appeared worried quietly to sympathisers that a touch or a comment they made 20 years ago was going to come back to haunt them.
Who said this at the time about the Russell McVeagh report?
The culture and conduct described in the report is totally unacceptable and although it isn't a government report he will be looking closely at all the recommendations.
He said as justice minister, his specific interest is in the Law Society and whether it has the right powers and capability to respond to claims of wrongful conduct towards employees of law firms.
Mr Little said he's met with whistle-blowers including Olivia Wensley and Zoe Lawton about changes that need to occur to ensure a safer environment for women working in the legal profession.
Yes, Andrew Little. The same Andrew Little who at the time was sitting around victims in his own Party and in Wellington working in close quarters to the alleged scumbag. He claims to have met with activists Wensley and Lawton yet no one in Labour would meet with the victims of their own inquiry and take their complaints seriously enough to satisfy them? What did Andrew Little think of the Berryman Report? Or as Justice Minister have they kept that from him as well as part of a see-no-evil policy?
Are left wing leaning New Zealand universities going to cut ties with the Labour Party like they did with Russell McVeagh when they didn't think their students were safe? Are Unions going to boycott Labour in support of the victims?
Because I ask you right now, who actually handled and is handling sexual harassment claims and the victims better?
1. Who sacked more leaders and Partners and ended the multi-million dollar glistening careers of those who had been a part of the furniture for years? Those who had overseen or participated in cover-ups and harassment? The equivalent of senior MP's, Cabinet Ministers.
2. Who chose not an employment barrister and then an employment QC but a formidable competent person of repute from the community to lead an inquiry, demand employees co-operate with it and from that inquiry actually take the recommendations under advisement and clean out those at the very senior level? Not the scapegoat managers and Chairmen or Presidents or staffers but the actual lawyers or actual MP's?
3. Who actually has given legal help to complainants and compensation, not just made empty promises?
4. Who released their report publicly? Regardless of the embarrassment caused.
5. Who effectively paid a senior respected ex-public servant to give them a pre-planned solid public spanking, rather than an employment lawyer and then an employment QC to provide secret reports with questionable terms of references to attempt to provide evidence that can be released selectively to clear their sole prized political asset in Jacinda Ardern?
Russell McVeagh or Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party?
Because right now even before Russell McVeagh announced the appointment of Dame Margaret Bazley they were handling their crisis better than Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party. And that is astonishing.
So the next time a New Zealand corporate is accused by the more rabid extremities of the #nzmetoo movement of unacceptable practice they need to not panic and spend small fortunes on handlers and reputation and crisis managers to manage their way out of it, they can breathe through it and point to the poster children in the Labour Party as the standard bearers for how to treat victims and those responsible for encouraging and covering up unacceptable behaviour. What they have done and how they have handle it cannot possibly be worse than Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party and she is an international UN approved symbol of #metoo and diversity and all that is kind and virtuous in our world for youth and womens rights.
Labour set themselves up gushingly over the horror of the Russell McVeagh report for this. They know now that when the hoards start a tidal wave of abuse and kōhimuhimu your way, there is nothing to stop it. They wallow in white middle class old dirty men getting caught up in these scandals. The shoe is on the other foot now and they just do not like it. They are meant to be the Party that fights for the powerless against the powerful.
Which is why the next #nzmetoo scandal to hit just will not matter, the media will not be in shock and awe and the movement itself is other than Alison Mau clinging on for dear relevance before Stuff slowly make her position redundant. It will no longer be clickbait. The outrage will be over.
Jacinda Ardern has succeeded in one thing this year that I never thought she could and that is in leading the country to a Peak #nzmetoo
And for the many women especially young women with genuine grievances in the workplace or against men in society for sexual assault, rape and harassment this is the worst thing she could have achieved.
Footnote - an eagle eyed reader sent me this from Helen Clark at the time of the Russell McVeagh review. Funny how things change for our former Dear Leader, because this past week all she keeps repeating as she inserts herself back into the limelight as Princess Cindy is about to leave the country, is how things are all ok in the Labour Party and her charge is doing a fine job. Where are all the resignations and the fresh start that Labour need? And how huge is the current "trust deficit" in Labour?
But Clark appeared unimpressed with the response, simple replying there was a "huge trust deficit after what has happened".