Labour joins swoon for random American "expert" on TPPA

As I explained in an earlier post, Jane Kelsey's anti-TPPA roadshow features a minor anti-trade activist called Lori Wallach, described most flatteringly by the NZ Herald as a "leading expert". It's abundantly obvious that Wallach's credentials have been greatly inflated by Kelsey and others; and that, predictably enough, the NZ media have fallen under The Spell of the International Expert, a peculiar form of colonial cringe that involves imbuing anyone with a foreign accent instant gravitas whether they deserve it or not. Wallach is a casebook study. 

I'm late to this, but conservative commentator Matthew Hooton was leaked an email that shows Labour has fallen for the trick too.   

Matt McCarten, Andrew Little's chief of staff, wrote* to all Labour employees: 

Hi All

The leading critic of TPPA, Jane Kelsey has offered to brief Labour Party staff at 4pm today with Lori Wallach (the American trade analyst/commentator) before their Wellington public meeting.  

Grant Robertson who spoke for us at the Auckland public meeting found Lori quite useful and interesting, especially her analysis of the US Congress and political situation.   

I think this is a great opportunity for staff to hear from both experts and encourage you to attend....

* the punctuation's all Matt's.


This is fairly alarming. 

Wallach is a fringe activist from the Nader-left in the US. There are plenty of serious trade critics in Washington, largely from within organised labour and the Democratic Party establishment, but Wallach is not one of them. As I wrote earlier, she may be an unheralded genius -- but, make no mistake, Wallach is decidedly, utterly, unheralded. The idea that Labour would take a steer from Lori Wallach on the TPPA should be troubling to anyone who cares about the state of that party. Wallach is simply not a credible voice outside of alternative media circles and the far-left flank of the US political spectrum.  

A related issue: Kelsey and Wallach oppose every trade deal out of principle. There is no conceivable version of the TPPA that either could support. To that extent, how useful is their counsel to a party that claims to support free trade in principle? The answer, quite clearly, is not at all. When you call in Kelsey and Wallach for advice, you must know what form it will take. Just more evidence, if it were needed, that the protectionist elements of the former Alliance have staged what amounts to a silent coup within Labour on trade policy.