Pity the Labour Party. Even its embarrassments do not seem as important as National's these days. The complaints from Labour's American "interns" unhappy with the state of their accommodation at a Northcote marae have not received a fraction of the attention paid to National's Barclay incident this week.

The public must be surprised a party would bring in 85 young people from another country to work on its election campaign, and not only because Labour wants to reduce immigration, particularly of students for "low quality" courses who also take low-skilled jobs. The party also stands for fair pay and a living wage. The interns sound more like indentured labour, tied to a sponsor employer who provides them with food and lodgings in lieu of pay.

Labour does not think of them as indentured labour, it thinks of them as volunteers going to work for an overseas charity, namely itself, on a worthwhile project, its election. As a "not for profit" organisation it seems to think it is not subject to employment law. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is not so sure.

But, some may wonder, is it proper to bring in so many campaign workers from another country? Labour would be the first to complain if foreign money was participating in the election, through party donations or any other means. Is a team of foreign volunteers on the ground any different? Labour counts its "ground game" to be better than National's, balancing National's superior funding. All the more reason, surely, for Labour to keep the election to New Zealanders.

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