Taxpayers' Union not sorry for comparing Phil Twyford to a stroke victim

An earlier version of this story stated that "As of Thursday morning, on Facebook the meme had only 84 likes and 'haha' reactions." The Taxpayers' Union posted the meme twice on Facebook, and we accept that there may have been other more favourable reactions to the meme.

The Taxpayers' Union is refusing to apologise after comparing Housing Minister Phil Twyford to a stroke victim.

The Taxpayers Union posted the meme twice on Facebook, and we accept that there may have been other more favourable reactions to the meme.

In posts on its social media pages on Thursday, the right-wing lobby group uploaded a four-panel comic showing the signs of a stroke, including 'twisted mouth' and 'arm paralysis'.

But it's the last frame that has caused offence - under the heading 'incoherent speech', the cartoon character is saying "KiwiBuild is good value for money".

Stroke Foundation chief executive Mark Vivian says it beggars belief.

"I was gobsmacked - it's extremely insensitive and very offensive," he told Newshub. "People have been offended by this, and understandably."

But Taxpayers' Union founder Jordan Williams isn't backing down, saying most political cartoons offend somebody.

"The overwhelming feedback that we're getting is it's a very common meme and it pokes fun at Kiwibuild."

He said only one person had "expressed concern" and the post had "hundreds of likes" before "a young journalist proactively reached out to the Stroke Foundation" and turned it into a news story.

On Twitter, the meme had 18 likes - but twice as many angry responses, users of the site calling the group "idiots" and "shit hoses".

"I think Williams shows a serious lack of judgement," said Vivian. "It's not a joke for those affected by stroke. The reality is in New Zealand, one in eight New Zealanders will experience a stroke at some stage in their life...

"The meme might be about Phil Twyford, but the issue is not about Phil Twyford. The issue is about offence about people affected in significant ways in their lives."

Jordan Williams.
Jordan Williams. Photo credit: The AM Show

Williams said Vivian is missing the point.

"I think most taxpayers are offended at the waste of money that is Kiwibuild, and this meme takes the mickey out of that - and Phil Twyford, who is responsible."

There is speculation Twyford could lose the housing portfolio in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, with the Government's flagship KiwiBuild scheme off to a shaky start.

Newsh

 

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