Let’s not play politics

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The government is finally moving to increase the intake of refugees from Syria, after being attacked from all sides for its inaction.

John Key has announced a special intake of 600 Syrian refugees over three years, as an addition to the existing refugee quota. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

It would be easy to point-score on this issue, and castigate John Key for showing a marked unwillingness to deal with the refugee crisis. But this issue is bigger than politics. The opposition must resist the temptation to gloat over Key’s moral cowardice, his lack of empathy for suffering families, and his utter disdain for anyone who doesn’t help him stay in power.

Let’s keep personality politics out of this. Why don’t we instead just celebrate this day for what it is: a small step in the right direction?

Let’s not keep bringing up the fact that John Key’s moral compass desperately needs to be recalibrated. It would also be churlish of us to keep mentioning Key’s inability to express any sort of opinion that hasn’t first been thoroughly focus-grouped.

Let’s give the man credit for changing his mind on this issue, even if his change of heart was forced upon him by public opinion and almost certainly wasn’t the result of an epiphany, a realisation that helping these people is the right thing to do. Why keep bringing up the fact that our Prime Minister is an international embarrassment, lecturing fellow Security Council members on their obligations regarding Syria while steadfastly refusing to commit New Zealand to any meaningful response to the refugee crisis?

I don’t want to hear anyone giving Key a hard time for being completely insensitive to the plight of refugees, and for only taking action when he realised public opinion was totally against him.

We certainly shouldn’t throw the “get some guts” line back in John Key’s face. Nor should we point out that our nation’s leader appears to have few discernable moral convictions, or highlight the fact that on this issue he has come across as bereft of humanity, empathy and basic decency, and still appears to be in denial over the scale of the crisis and New Zealand’s pitiful refugee quota.

The opposition must not play games here. Labour and the Greens must avoid using the refugee crisis to highlight everything wrong with the leadership of this country, if what we have witnessed these last few weeks can even be called “leadership.”

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