Don Brash attracts near-universal derision just suggesting One Law for All

Karl du Fresne is somewhat taken aback by the cross spectrum venom on display

It?s hard to recall a more concerted gang-up against a public figure than the one that followed last week?s launch of former National Party leader Don Brash?s Hobson?s Pledge movement, which wants an end to race-based preference.

The mild-mannered Brash is no stranger to public kickings, but even he must have been taken aback by the sheer venom of the backlash.

Maori broadcaster Willie Jackson said he was crazy. Labour leader Andrew Little called him racist (now that?s original). Prime minister John Key, Brash?s successor as National leader, belittled him by saying he sounded like a broken record.

Almost without exception, the media reaction was contemptuous. One political editor dismissed Brash as a jack-in-the-box ? ?wind him up and out he pops, shouting ?boo? over race relations?.

Columnist Toby Manhire suggested Brash and his supporters should start a colony on Mars. Hone Harawira labelled him a redneck ? the default option for Maori activists stumped for a proper argument.

Media interviewers, including Radio New Zealand?s Mihingarangi Forbes and TV3?s Lisa Owen, were openly hostile. There was no pretence of the journalistic neutrality once required of broadcasters. No surprises there.

It is remarkable that wanting a non-apartheid solution to New Zealand legislation can produce that much upset. ?

…make no mistake: Brash?s attackers want you to believe that we?ve ?moved on? since 2004 and that Brash is just an irritating anachronism.

They all have their own reasons for wanting to shut him down.

For Key, the India rubber man of politics, it?s all about political practicalities. The Maori Party, whose existence depends on Maori seats, are National’s allies.It?s only a few years since National officially favoured the abolition of Maori seats in Parliament, but ssshhh ? we?re not supposed to remember that.

For Brash?s Maori critics, the sentiment expressed by Captain William Hobson on the original Waitangi Day ? ?now we are one people? ? must be resisted because if it caught on, it could undermine Maoridom?s increasingly pervasive exercise of political power through the back door.

As for left-wing Pakeha, their bitter dislike of Brash can be attributed to blind adherence to the prevailing ideology of the day, which elevates fashionable identity politics over long-standing democratic fundamentals that guarantee equal rights for all.

Winston Peters is best placed to mine this constant vein of national dissatisfaction. ?Before, most people simply didn’t care. ?But as Maori interest are just about to claim the air we breathe (they are already working on the water we drink), the general unease with Maori pandering by successive governments is going to find a political expression.


Karl du Fresne