NZ POLITICS DAILY: Has there ever been an MP so widely condemned?

Richard Prosser

Has there ever been an MP so widely condemned?

David Garrett may be the only one to have come close for managing to build a complete consensus of vilification upon himself.

The backlash against Richard Prosser’s bizarre statements on race and religion has been so incredibly strong that there is a sense of MPs actually revelling in their condemnation, seizing the chance to prove how progressive and anti-racist they are. This is an argument I make in my blogpost, Richard Prosser’s role in making mainstream politicians look progressive. I also point out how much more muted politicians were in response to the Government’s new refugee policy aligning New Zealand with Australia’s reactionary asylum system - i.e. a current policy that actually has an effect.

For the opposite view, see Morgan Godfery’s blogpost, Richard Prosser and white privilege, in which he argues that Prosser’s statements are being excused as ‘just one man’s opinions’. Godfery argues that this indicates how ‘white privilege’ reigns supreme in New Zealand because white men are allowed to say what Maori would be vilified for. 

There seems plenty of evidence, however, that Prosser hasn’t gotten away with his xenophobic and bigoted statements at all. After all, those bastions of ‘white privilege’ and the Establishment – the newspaper editorials – are powerfully condemning of Prosser – see, for example, the Press’ Prosser not needed, the Dominion Post’s Terrorists borne from intolerance, the ODT’s Ignorant and prejudiced and the Southland Times’ Prosser is a nasty prat. What’s more, even voters in Prosser’s ‘own electorate’ of provincial Waimakariri are appalled– such as ‘72-year old shopper Maureen Paterson’ who is reported by Kurt Bayer as exclaiming: ‘He's a w*****, and he should know better’ – see: Prosser's electorate unimpressed by 'Wogistan'. As Tahu Potiki points out today: ‘Note that not one person has come to his rescue. His comments are so clearly inappropriate that he has not found even one ally’ – see: Prosser offensive and 'ridiculously flawed'
So what does the strength of this backlash say about New Zealand politics and society in 2013? Perhaps it’s a useful barometer of New Zealand race relations – even better than Waitangi Day – and an indication of the strength of our ‘intolerance of intolerance’. The backlash might also suggest just how quickly attitudes are changing. It was only a decade ago that the Helen Clark Labour Government was locking up the Muslim refugee, Ahmed Zaoui, and treating him in a manner in which Prosser might well approve. This is an argument put very strongly by Paul Buchanan in an excellent blogpost, With stereotypes, timing is everything. He says that Zaoui’s ‘arrival was met with official alarm and a chorus of exactly the sort of xenophobic invective that Prosser has voiced’, and that ‘Back then Islamophobia ran rampant and it was fine if not fashionable to Muslim-bash, which the Clark government did adroitly and with aplomb’. Buchanan says that Prosser’s biggest mistake is his timing: ‘Had he made his remarks ten years ago he would have fared far better in the court of public and political opinion’.
You don’t have to look too far from Prosser to find evidence of this. Russell Brown relates his experience with Winston Peters a decade ago and quotes from a speech Peters gave to Kaitaia Grey Power in 2005: ‘In New Zealand the Muslim community has been quick to show us their more moderate face, but there is a militant underbelly here as well. These two groups, the moderate and militant, fit hand and glove’ – see: The Wogistan form book. So, as Matthew Hooton says in a (pay-walled) NBR article today, ‘you can imagine poor old Mr Prosser, he must have said “boy what have I done wrong, I’m just doing what the leader does”’ – see: Rod Vaughan’s Winston Peters to be kingmaker again
And, predictably, the outrage from party leaders didn’t extend to endangering any coalition deals with Prosser’s party. As Jane Clifton writes in the latest Listener, ‘While being all self-righteous about Prosser, they also realised that come the next election, NZ First’s bigot could well become their bigot. Labour, the Greens and this time National have not ruled out going into coalition with NZ First, because the way the poll numbers are filleting up these days, the next Government probably could not be formed without it’ – see: NZ Government: Theatre of the absurd [paywalled]. See also, Patrick Gower’s Key open to a deal with 'Wogistan Party'
If you are looking for any sympathisers for Prosser’s views, you could look at the comments section of Kiwiblog, but you should also read David Farrar’s very strong reaction to such comments: The nature of bigotry.
David Shearer’s initial reaction was interesting and revealing. As No Right Turn points out, it was initially hesitant, as had been his response to the refugee deal – see: As useless as a proverbial useless thing II. The most telling comment on this was a sarcastic tweet from Danyl Mclauchlan (@danylmc): ‘If only Labour had a leader who had experience working with terrorism/refugees and could speak on those subjects with authority’. On the issues that Shearer should be most comfortable and knowledgeable with, he still appears afraid of his own shadow.
For a lighter take on the Prosser controversy – but equally political – see Scott Yorke’s satirical Richard Prosser's top tips for flying and RadioLive’s Where is Wogistan? A guide by MP Richard Prosser
But, in the end, it is all ‘so 2000s’ for most politicians. Just as it is hard these days to find someone who supported the Vietnam war and the Springbok Tour, the ‘War on Terror’ has become very passé. Not so easy are the current issues for which there’s clearly no consensus, such as West Papua. Gordon Campbell skewers Murray McCully for describing New Zealand’s approach to Indonesia’s human rights record as one of ‘constructive engagement’ – the phrase coined by Ronald Reagan to describe his opposition to boycotts and dis-investment against apartheid South Africa: ‘Could someone please tell our Foreign Affairs Minister about the discredited history of a term he seems so happy to use? Before he starts talking happily about the “final solution” for West Papua’ – see: On Richard Prosser, and West Papua.
Other recent articles include: 
* Shane Jones is positioning himself for a return to Labour’s frontbench, based on apparent good news being leaked about the Auditor-General’s upcoming report on his involvement in the Bill Liu immigration controversy. But David Farrar says Beware the spin. Another useful news items says: Jones immigration report conclusions 'complex'.
* What’s happening in the manufacturing sector? Jobs appear to be disappearing fast, but the industry itself seems to be expanding – see James Weir’s Gloom lifts for manufacturing.
* The living wage campaign is really getting some traction at the moment. Colin Espiner thinks a radical approach to unemployment is the best solution – see: How to earn a living wage. Tim Watkin quotes Obama in nailing the core idea behind the Living Wage: ‘if you work full-time, you shouldn’t be in poverty’ – see: A living wage: There are no reasons not to, and the Dominion Post editorial criticises employers who offer hollow excuses for low pay – see: Tough choices in quest for a living wage. The campaign could signal the start of an alliance that could seriously challenge the government says Colin James – see: Coalition-building from the bottom up
* With the focus on the ‘working poor’ questions are increasingly being asked about how taxpayers effectively subsidise wages for many large profitable companies – see Deborah Russell’s Why businesses should reject subsidies and embrace the living wage campaign and No Right Turn’s A living wage and the sin of cheapness
* But is it all just talk? The Greens are criticising the Government for paying some workers less than $19/hour, labelling it ‘unethical’. Logically if the Greens were involved in governing they will ensure that all those employed directly or indirectly by the Government would be paid at least $19 – see: Lloyd Burr’s  English: 'Some employers are greedy'. That could be a challenge for the new ‘fiscally responsible’ image that Russel Norman has fostered.
* Poverty-related illnesses and ‘Third World diseases’ among children are worrying Christchurch health professionals and community workers – see: Olivia Carville’s Poverty strikes at home, children first victims. This reinforces another report criticising the Government’s record: Government gets a 'D' for child poverty
* We can, and should, do better argues Brian Rudman in NZ can afford to care more about refugees. We are just trying to frighten off ‘boat people’ before they even try reaching us thinks Andrew Geddes in Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines. But, why all the fuss when John Key is just doing what Helen Clark did with the Tampa refugees? See David Farrar’s Thoughts on the asylum seekers deal with Australia.
* For the latest on how politicians are spending our money, see Claire Trevett’s Gifts reflect ministers' generosity and Hamish Rutherford’s Maori Party leaders, Prosser big spenders
* Regrets? He’s had a few and mentioned them in his final speech to Parliament, namely voting against the Homosexual Law Reform bill and means testing student allowances – see: Claire Trevett’s Lockwood Smith delivers final speech to Parliament
Bryce Edwards
Richard Prosser and ‘Wogistan’
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Winston on Wogistan
Pete George (YourNZ): Other parties on Prosser
Steven Price (Media Law Journal): Heal thyself
Adam Bennett (Herald): Muslim rant goes global
The Standard: Our International Shame
Katie Bradford-Crozier (Newstalk ZB): Pressure mounts on Richard Prosser
Pete George (YourNZ): The Muslim Peril
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Random Impertinent Questions
Russell Brown (Publicaddress): The Wogistan form book
Paul Buchanan (Kiwipolitico): With stereotypes, timing is everything.
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On Richard Prosser, and West Papua
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Richard Prosser and white privilege
David Farrar (Kiwiblog):NZ First MPs
Robert Winter (Idlethoughts): The Ugly Truth of Mr Prosser
Adam Bennett (Herald): Prosser vows to stay in Parliament
Scott Yorke (Imperatorfish): Richard Prosser's top tips for flying
Will de Cleene (goNZo): NZ First's Next Prosser-cution
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Prosser makes name for himself
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The nature of bigotry
Pete George (YourNZ): Blog of bigotry
Waikato Times: Prosser talk of the town
Vernon Small (The Press): Prosser condemns himself to wilderness
Jane Clifton (Listener): NZ Government: Theatre of the absurd
Inequality, poverty, employment
Peter Cresswell (Not PC): Wishing for a “living wage”
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Living wage only part of solution
Katie Chapman (Stuff): $18.40 an hour needed for living wage
Simon Collins (Herald): Industries quail at pay cost
Colin Espiner (Stuff): How to earn a living wage
The Standard: Espiner on wages
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The living wage
Katie Chapman (Stuff): $18.40 an hour needed for living wage
Mainzeal collapse
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Much ado about nothing
Tamsyn Parker (Herald): PM stands by Shipley
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): No conflict of interest – Shipley
Refugee deal
No Right Turn: Worse and worse
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Novopay: Joyce can't rely on Ministry data
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Charter schools exemption from OIAs defended
Shane Jones report
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Beware the spin
Claire Trevett (Herald): Shane Jones report: What's in it?
Maori politics
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): What post-settlement iwi should look like
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): The Hypocrisy of the Maori and Mana Parties
Labour Party
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Top Cunliffe Strategist Steps Down
Anthony Robins (TheStandard): Bomber, Tumeke and the next step…
Twistedhive: One step forward
Robert Winter (Idlethoughts): Where is Labour? (contd.)
Robert Winter (Idlethoughts): Twitter Twits
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Job snapshot puts youth in the picture
James Weir and Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Axed jobs shows privatisation danger – MP
Brian Fallow (Herald): NZ too small for big risks: English
Newswire (TV3): 400 jobs lost in four days
James Weir (Stuff): Gloom lifts for manufacturing
Corporate tax avoidance
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Company tax rorts undermine confidence
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Tech company rorts 'threaten global tax take'
MP spending
Claire Trevett (Herald): Gifts reflect ministers' generosity
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Maori Party leaders, Prosser big spenders
Simon Collins (Herald): House supply gap begins to close
Benny Wenda/Human Rights
Isaac Davison (Herald): McCully snubs West Papuan
Kim Dotcom
Rebecca Quilliam (Herald): Kim Dotcom's lawyer denies delaying tactics
UN Security Council bid
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): January Public Polls
Stuff: Today in politics: Wednesday, February 13
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): More on Seven Sharp
Brian Edwards (Brianedwardsmedia): Better! Better! Better! (‘Seven Sharp’ last night)
Katie Bradford-Crozier (NewstalkZB): National down, Labour up in latest poll
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Lockwood’s valedictory
Brian Rudman (Herald): Best to get our hands on the tiller
Anthony Robbins (TheStandard): Poll of polls looking good


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What a load of garbage!

"Godfery (sic) argues that this indicates how ‘white privilege’ reigns supreme in New Zealand because white men are allowed to say what Maori would be vilified for."

Maori have been "allowed to say" plenty and it seems to me that villifcation is precisely what is happening to Mr Prosser.

"There seems plenty of evidence, however, that Prosser hasn’t gotten away with his xenophobic and bigoted statements at all. After all, those bastions of ‘white privilege’ and the Establishment – the newspaper editorials – are powerfully condemning."

Right on! I am amazed the writer didn't say "white MALE privilege" What a load of Spartist drivel.

All in all the artcicle is a fine example of the phenomenon noted by the author early on - a p*ssing contest amongst those of a soggy liberal persuasion to see who can be most outraged and offended with the less soggy having to join in so as to prevent the said soggies turning on them.


The Richard Prosser fiasco just shows how ludicrous our MMP system is. An idiot like this can get into Parliament with 476 votes!


That is the weakness of MMP, that the majority of the country re-affirmed in the last poll.
MMP has never provided stable responsible government anywhere!


Time to do the honorable thing!


All NZ MPs should show good example and not create unrealistic fear among the people ... putting all expatriate NZers at risk, especially in Islamic nations.


Yes he said a stupid thing. But my goodness at least he had the b*lls to say something in NZ and not be afraid of the political correctness feminist tree hugging gay Maori left which holds the country back from holding open debate; which without a country can not improve.


It's not his b"lls that caused him to say 'a stupid thing', it was his stupidity, his b*lls had nothing to do with it.

'political correctness feminist tree hugging gay Maori left ' says it all.


There's no excuse for Prosser's ridiculous, premeditated ravings and his resignation is the only honourable option now. Oops, I forgot - he's a politician so there'll be no honour.

Why didn't the Greens didn't make such a fuss when Hone Harawira was heard to be referring to white NZers as White MF's?
I think it's because in our society, racism leveled at brown people is rightly unacceptable, but when directed at the fairer races it is much more palatable. So who's racist?


Good strong racist attitude by pakeha against all brown and black people stems from views on Maori people. Has been well imbedded into NZ white culture and is now being openly reflected at highest levels of government. Sad days ahead for NZ.


The guy may be a fool but surely he is allowed to say what he thinks and let us know we still have freedom of speech
After all part of what he said is quite correct - most terrorists are Muslim


The real irony is that if you stuck a tea towel on Peters or Prossers head they would pass for an Arab anywhere!!


Wish they'd put Helen Clarke in a burka. After 3 terms in government her image is still stinging my eyes.


For crying out loud, go to a therapist!


So its okay for Muslims to bomb the world, kill women and children and crash planes into huge buildings in the USA? The Koran preaches care and good, not murder, but there is a group of Muslims who want to, and do, practice the bombing of innocents. If we can't trust them, then they miss out. Should be the same with Maori. If they don't wish to abide by NZ law then we have no reason to keep giving them everything thay want. Dame Whina Cooper did her land marchs but she also keep preaching ONE LAND, ONE PEOPLE. Yes, I'm Maori and, yes, I'm on the Maori electroral roll. Maybe the best thng that could happen in NZ is a Constitution with no reference to the Treaty of Waitangi. No Queen then no more payouts.


So the chap wrote a bit of twaddle. Except I was caught up in the 1970? hijacking, by Moslem extremists, of a BOAC plane in the desert in Jordan. So things do happen. But even more amazing, we can Napalm Afghanis and bomb them without any comment. Yet some half-backed comment gets condemned. Presumable its ok to blow someones brains out with a drone, but not ok to make 'racist' remarks.


Yes indeed. You cant speak your mind in NZ because of political correctness but can sit silent when your government supports government who bomb the cr*p out of people.


Well, Prosser does have a point - not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim. That doesn't make him racist, just makes him a realist.


"All terrorists are Muslim." WTF?? Your ignorance is only equal to your stupidity (and Prosser's). The IRA, various Latin American guerrilla groups, the Tamil Tigers, the Oklahoma City bombers, the Red Army faction, various Greek insurgent groups--the list of non-Muslim terrorists is very long and extends far beyond those just mentioned. Try to read a bit more before you embarrass yourself with this sort of inane statement.


This is a nasty media witch-hunt aimed as much at Investigate magazine. (Ian Wishart brings to the public attention important issues which the usual lazy media reef-fish are far too once-over-lightly to investigate and the hack-pack resent this.)

It's a shame that Prosser's bombastic language dampened down the distinction between good Moslem folk - and the very real threat that Islam itself poses to the West.

We should make no mistake. France, UK and the Netherlands which adopted liberal policies towards Islamic immigration have paid for this dearly and now openly admit that multi-culturalism is a failed and damaging doctrine. Only assimilation, with goodwill, is in the interest of a host country.

Moreover, the US does what Prosser seemed to be advocating; it profiles its plane passengers, particularly scrutinising young Muslim men. Shouldn't we wonder why?

Irrespective of the drummed up-hysteria from the mainstream media and politicians wanting to make headlines, oddly enough, we still have free speech in this country - including the right to offend and misuse one's judgment. It's the overkill reaction, not Prosser's original silly statement, which is the real concern.


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