James Shaw’s mea culpa on Green School funding exposed his lack of political nous



James Shaw standing in front of a building: Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

When Green party leader, James Shaw, apologised for backing the use of public funds for a private school last week, he ventured down a well-trodden path of the political mea culpa to save his own skin before October’s election. While he’s not the first person to row back a policy in New Zealand politics, or during this Covid pandemic, whether he survives may have as much to do with how he manages the public’s perception of him as a leader, as it does with the nature of his mistake.



James Shaw standing in front of a building: James Shaw came under fire for effectively backing a private school with public funds.


© Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
James Shaw came under fire for effectively backing a private school with public funds.

Of the current party leaders in the New Zealand parliament, James Shaw is probably the least comfortable public communicator. Over his parliamentary career he has never shown much understanding of the art of

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