The headline says it all. I could just stop here and not bother writing anything more about this sordid example of a political party making a cascading bungle. However it is important that people know what happened.
The plan was to have 87 paid interns from the United States and other countries visit New Zealand. Whilst here they would be housed on a Marae and be given lectures by former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark.
The reality was starkly different.
What is wrong with this?
Everything. Not least:
- What was Labour doing importing students from around the world for this? Assuming the scheme worked – which it clearly did not – why could they have not given New Zealanders this chance?
- The accommodation should have been thoroughly vetted before any decision was made about where they would stay – could the Marae handle so many people?
- Communications. Clearly at multiple points this broke down – between the unions and Labour; between Labour and the interns; between the Marae and Labour. The words epic fail spring to mind.
- Who was doing the vetting of all of this? Was there even any vetting done? On the surface it would appear not.
Whilst Andrew Little is right to stand up and say Labour has to take moral responsibility for the whole thing, there needs to be an inquiry into how such a poorly planned event got off the ground in the first place. Right from the start it looks like a massive communications failure, a list of unrealistic expectations and people making assumptions that they had no right to.
The irony, given the principles on which Labour were founded as a party, will not be lost on the Government or the other parties in Parliament.
There is no doubt that this week has – much as Prime Minister Bill English and out going M.P. Todd Barclay will try to deny it – belonged to the National Party for all the wrong reasons. They committed an act that might result in – should the Police decide it is worth the effort – criminal charges against Mr Barclay and bring the National Party into serious disrepute.
However it should by equally dubious measure belong to the Labour Party. Mr Little and the Labour Party Board and caucus will be wanting to shut this down firmly and as fast as possible. The potential damage to a party already in trouble in the polls so close to an election that it needs to do well in is considerable. There is no doubt that all in the party will wish to see the next few several weeks be as blemish free as possible.
But as the headline says, what were Labour thinking when it imported these American students?