On Friday, DPF revealed that Prosser was to be the headline speaker at a public meeting in Aro Valley, near Wellington yesterday. His brief was to talk about how NZ First's policies would move "New Zealand ahead economically, socially and environmentally".
Aro Valley has seen some pretty robust candidate debates at past General Elections. So it seems that Mr Prosser decided that discretion was the better part of valour; One News reports:
New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser has been labelled a coward after failing to front up for a public meeting.Locals were greeted with a "cancelled" sign outside the meeting venue, the Aro Valley Community Centre in Wellington this afternoon, and Prosser did not turn up.New Zealand First has admitted his no show was because of the backlash over his controversial comments about Muslims.A local outside the meeting venue said she thought the no show was "a bit cowardly".Another local said it was a really bad look and made Prosser "look like a chicken".Prosser was meant to be giving his first speech this afternoon since the controversy over comments he made about Muslims in a column in Investigate magazine.He wrote: "If the greatest identifiable threat to modern aviation security is posed by young Muslim males, then surely the answer is to prohibit young Muslim males from flying on aeroplanes."He went on to add: "If the belief systems of ancient history are so important to you, and the advances of the decadent West so abhorrent, go ride a camel instead.""He's not welcome here because we don't want that sort of attitude. We don't need neo-fascists here or anywhere else in New Zealand." a man told ONE News outside the meeting.Prosser's speech was meant to be about how New Zealand First will move the country forward, but the party was not so forward about the cancellation of the meeting.ONE News repeatedly called the number on a notice advertising the meeting to find out the reason for Prosser's no show. At first the number just rang, then it went straight to voicemail.Then our reporter rang Prosser directly, but he wasn't answering his phone.Eventually a member of New Zealand First, Brent Pierson, did show up at the meeting venue. He said the meeting had been cancelled on Thursday as a direct result of the outrage over Prosser's Investigate column."We're not interested in conflict. We want to have a proper debate, but people are not in that mood at the moment," said Pierson.
We're sure that the good folk of Aro Valley would have loved the chance to hear Mr Prosser explain exactly what he meant in the Investigate Magazine column. On the other hand, Prosser will doubtless be aware of Whaleoil's Rules of Politics, #1 of which says "When you're explaining, you're losing".
Richard Prosser was left between a rock and a hard place. Cancelling the meeting was probably a sensible idea, lest he poured fuel on an already raging fire. On the other hand, if he stands by the intent of his remarks, why ought he not defend them?
It's hard to escape the conclusion that an order to cancel this meeting came from higher up the NZF food chain; who might that have been?