Aaron Gilmore looks set to remain in Parliament, at least until his party can dig up more dirt on him and compel him to resign. This has always seemed like a pretty stupid story to me: total nobody is mildly offensive. What’s more interesting is how comprehensively the lawyer who dined with Gilmore – Andrew Riches – has destroyed this idiot’s career.
Riches left a note for staff at the restaurant apologising for Gilmore’s behavior He also seems to have been the person who took the story to the media. Then, when Gilmore made a public apology Riches came forwards, contradicted the apology and expanded the story, adding that Gilmore invoked the name of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Then several days of media feeding frenzy later, Gilmore makes another public apology via a press conference. The next day Riches leaks the text messages between Gilmore and himself which contradict the version of events that Gilmore gave at the press conference.
It’s that final bit that interests me. It wasn’t unreasonable for Riches to go public contradicting Gilmore’s first version of events. Like he said, he was just defending his own name, standing up for the truth, or whatever.
But making an accusation, waiting for the denial and then leaking proof of your accusation isn’t standard ‘standing up for the truth’ behavior. It’s a political communications strategy. It’s what you do when you want to destroy someone’s credibility and career.
Which is not to express sympathy for Gilmore who could have avoided all this with a simple and heartfelt apology. I think he should resign – for his own good, as much as anything else: he doesn’t look like he’s coping very well. But the guy has been played.
(I don’t think this is all a National Party trick to distract the public from the GCSB or Mighty River Power: if Gilmore splits from his party and stays in Parliament as an independent and John Banks is convicted in court, the Nats could lose their majority.)
Josie Pagani has a post up on Pundit regurgitating her one big idea about political strategy: that Labour needs to move to the right and embrace National’s ‘get tough’ policies on crime and welfare.
The Paganis have been saying this for years and it still makes very little sense to me. The National Party wants to get tough on welfare, criminals (and teachers) to distract people from their actual policies, or the failures thereof. The number of unemployed rises and falls with the economy, crime has been trending down for many years across the entire western world, and our education system is regularly rated as one of the best in the OECD.
If you’re a National politician you try and solve these problems that don’t actually exist because it’s part of a wider strategy to promote other policies that are unpopular with the general public but benefit your donors and core voter demographics. But why would a (nominally) left-wing politician buy into that scam? Why not address real problems that would help your constituency? Or, failing that, create your own fake problems that advance your own political agenda instead of your opponents? Or – if you’re not inclined to help your voters or advance your own values – just leave politics and go and do something else with your life? I genuinely don’t get it.
Update: Josie responds. Opening quote:
If you think crime, welfare and unemployment are ‘problems that don’t actually exist’ you are out of touch with the facts as well as public opinion.
If anything will resolve the high exchange rate, urban housing crisis, low wages and exodus to Australia, surely it’s convict labour.
I don’t have any moral/philosophical objection to making prisoners work to offset the cost of their imprisonment, or help skill them up to re-integrate them ‘back into society’, but if you combine it with National’s policy of private prison management, it’s not hard to see how the goals of rehabilitating and releasing prisoners could clash with the prospect of having a subsidised compulsory zero-cost workforce.
If you are in a car and there is a rush of blood to the head and Labour and the Greens do get there, you had better like your radio station because you will spend a long time in a traffic jam, because the first thing that will be gone with those people are the roads.
Prime Minister John Key in his Opening Statement to Parliament yesterday, in which the PM traditionally lays out his policy agenda for the year, our current Prime Minister . . . not so much.
John Tamihere is back in the Labour Party:
So can he get on with his fellow Labourites?
“Look, I don’t have to get on with these people. I’m joining the Labour Party. I’m not joining the ‘Women’s Party’, I’m not joining the ‘Union Party’, I’m not joining the ‘Gay Party’, I’m joining the Labour Party.
On the one hand, mainstream parties have to be broad churches and accommodate a wide range of views. On the other hand, you don’t see a lot of potential National candidates joining up because they hate farmers and the Auckland business community and want to sort them all out.
Gerry Brownlee on inner city rail in Auckland. Skip forwards to 3:25.
Because what can one say? John Armstrong on John Key’s ‘pragmatism‘:
Some on the left have long argued that Key’s portrayal of himself as a moderate conservative is a front and that behind the friendly visage lurks a cool-blooded animal as keen to push a free market-oriented agenda as any disciple of the New Right.
But Key is into his fourth year as prime minister, so that alleged alter ego would surely have emerged long before now.
Sure, the National minority government has undergone a slight lurch to the right since last year’s election, beating the drum on welfare reform, getting more hard-nosed on housing the poor, seeking to break the power of the teacher unions, slowly privatising the public service, and floating portions of state-owned companies on the stock market . . .
Image by Joe Wylie, based on a comment by Idiot Savant, who has a variation on this theme here.
Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed the unemployed will face drug tests to get the benefit.
I’m pretty sure National’s policy development process now consists of flashing ideas like this on a projector in front of a focus group of talk-back radio fans, and measuring how much drool and semen collects in a trough running beneath the chairs.
Last week National announced that they were going to reduce the number of unemployment beneficiaries by 30,000, because they cared about them SO much. Now we’ve seen how they’ll do it, I dread to see their solution for reducing childhood rheumatic fever rates.
National’s third term will just consist of Key, Paula Bennett and Judith Collins standing at the podium in the Beehive media room announcing ‘plans’ to get tough on criminals and/or beneficiaries and/or teenagers, in rotating eight hour shifts, twenty-four hours a day for three years.