… and apparently hasn’t figured out that the Internet never forgets. Um, especially when you publish transcripts of your own dog-whistling bullshit on your own website.
For the benefit of comparison, here’s what David Shearer said in the infamous roof-painter anecdote:
From what he told me, he was right, it wasn’t bloody fair, and I said so. I have little tolerance for people who don’t pull their weight.
And here’s what he said when finally cornered on it (after some marvellous persistence from Gio) today:
and the point was, I mean, wasn’t actually… whether this guy was right or not I don’t know,
Hawkins: So you don’t know if it’s true, at no point did you go talk to the beneficiary in question?
Shearer: No, the point was Aaron – the point was how people perceive others not playing by the rules, that’s all I was saying.
So now, after a substantial amount of backlash, this is apparently all about “how people perceive things” and “he didn’t conduct a police investigation into anyone” or anything.
But he was more than happy to say “From what he told me, he was right, it wasn’t bloody fair, and I said so.” and follow it up with “I have little tolerance for people who don’t pull their weight.”
Sure, there’s weasel-words enough in there for his defenders to say “but he said from what he told me, so he was just talking about another person’s opinion!”
Yes, and he didn’t question that opinion. He thought that opinion was good enough to stick it right up front in a prepared speech, not questioning it, not considering that maybe since he’s the leader of the Labour Party he might want to say, oh,
From what this guy said, I could see that he had a strong sense of fairness. But that sense of fairness had been manipulated by people like the National and Act Parties. They’d used this hardworking man’s sense of fairness and justice and convinced him that anyone who could – at his own pace, in his own time – paint a roof must automatically be able to work.
We don’t know who that man was – I didn’t want to invade his privacy by demanding he justify his illness to me. I already knew that under a National government, it would be hard enough getting the kind of support he was entitled to, the kind of support he needed to live a basic life, much less rip off the system. After all, we’ve become a country where people’s neighbours – like the guy I was talking to – are probably more than happy to pass judgement on people they don’t know and report them to WINZ.
I talked with this guy some more, and I appealed to that sense of fairness, that common decency he clearly felt. I said, “hey, you don’t know this guy that well. Maybe he’s got a condition which means sometimes, he can paint a roof, and sometimes he’s stuck in his house in a huge amount of pain. Do you think any employer’s going to give a job to someone who has a 50-50 chance of being able to show up on any given day?
“That’s why we have a strong social safety net,” I said. “That’s why Labour is committed to helping the people who need it, even if sometimes they can look like they’re fine.”
I can tell you, like I told this guy, that that person is getting checked on and audited and inspected and sometimes he may even be denied his basic dignity because our Government wants to treat him like a thief, just because he’s had a hard run of luck.
Our Government wants to turn us from being a caring society – the kind of society where you’d know he wasn’t a bludger because he’s your neighbour, and that means he’s your friend, and you know there are the days he can’t get out of bed and that’s when you pop over to make him a cuppa or get your kids to bring in his recycling bin – into a society that sits back and sees someone in need and says “We don’t care, you should just try harder.”
Of course, all that would rely on David Shearer giving a fuck about the undertrodden, instead of rarking up Grey Power about Evil Bludging Beneficiaries Who Don’t Know How Easy They’ve Got It. But a blogger can dream.