The Dim-Post

May 10, 2013

What this scandal needs is a good conspiracy theory

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 6:23 am

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.)


  1. I was also fascinated by this aspect. The one comment about Riches I have come across is that he a lawyer who got a bravery award for rescue work during the Christchurch earthquake, something I took at face value but now looks like a careful bit of reputation management on his behalf while he cheerfully and ruthlessly demolished Aaron Gilmores. From a five minute Google Mr. Riches seems the very pillar of local establishment down in slopehead land and as a default I would guess his politics are pretty much your cookie cutter provincial Tory in flavour? Perhaps one of your better informed Christchurch readers could give us the dirt on why he demolished the career of Aaron Gilmore. After all, as the revelations of Charles Ramsey’s past informs us – no good deed ever goes unpunished in the age of the internet.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 10, 2013 @ 7:17 am

  2. Maybe the required conspiracy theory is that while some NATs have recently embraced their inner sordid queer desires and noting that they have long proven to pander to hordes of special voters of race, the party internal focus polling outcomes will have changed.

    Polls have determined that they need to be seen to actively catering to Maori lesbians and lo, they have one of those next up on the list. Unfortunately for Aaron, he was the first expendable scum list MP to blot his copybook so to speak and could be fired to make room for the desired new entrant.

    And unfortunately for the party, is now a major distraction in what should have been John Boy’s week in the limelight, he has flatly refused to depart gracefully. After all, he’s done nothing really wrong and he obviously likes the pay. But the party machine says there is an election coming up and votes must be won.

    Comment by pmofnz — May 10, 2013 @ 7:35 am

  3. @pmofnz – I am always in awe of people who can stretch Thursday night drinks into Friday.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 10, 2013 @ 7:46 am

  4. What did he do (or not do) at mbie?

    Comment by Ian — May 10, 2013 @ 7:48 am

  5. I think this lawyer hated Gilmore and he didn’t know that.when the incidence happened he took advantage of it.
    Any one who believes this is some conspiracy to do with hateing gays, MRP
    Or whatever is nuts

    Comment by Graham — May 10, 2013 @ 8:06 am

  6. mbie?

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 10, 2013 @ 8:07 am

  7. @ Sanctuary – No drink was involved, but the request was for something left field. In politics, probably more like the truth than far fetched.

    Comment by pmofnz — May 10, 2013 @ 8:08 am

  8. MBIE = Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment I think.

    As for why Riches has thrown Gilmore under the bus it could just be that Gilmore pissed him off that night. I don’t think there’s necessarily some sort of cabalistic National Party plot at work. After all if the National Party high-ups want to be rid of him all they need to do is just keep him in the same list spot for the next election.

    Comment by Conrad — May 10, 2013 @ 8:39 am

  9. I understood it concerned the wife of Riches, heard something about it on air. I am presuming she was at the function with Riches & Gilmore.
    If so it could certainly explain the saga

    Comment by Ron — May 10, 2013 @ 8:59 am

  10. I get the feeling that Riches is outright affronted. Gilmore’s constant conditional hedging in making a drawn out apology has annoyed him personally, and by association, exposed him to ridicule. I would do exactly the same thing, particularly if I had longer term ambitions in mind.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 10, 2013 @ 9:02 am

  11. i would have to agree with Gregor, the apology went on way to long.

    Comment by Gail — May 10, 2013 @ 9:15 am

  12. It’s what you do when you want to destroy someone’s credibility and career.

    Further, this statement presupposes that Gilmore had any political credibility or career.
    Given that he was shoved down the list last election, this is unlikely.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 10, 2013 @ 9:41 am

  13. So, a couple of Christchurch Tory silver spooners are engaged in a hubristic squabble over inappropriate drunken comments about one their wives? Were they wearing MCC blazers at the time as well?

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 10, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  14. Scuttlebutt is MBIE is _not_ to be referred to as MoBIE, pronounced “Moby” as allusions to insane captains with malignant, ruthless, insular intentions could be constructed. As well as numerous jokes about big white dicks.

    Comment by Someone who does not work at MBIE — May 10, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  15. Do you think that Mr Riches will offer to be a Nat Candidate? Would he be acceptable or would he be in the same category as that of whistleblowers or Union activists?

    Comment by xianmac — May 10, 2013 @ 9:51 am

  16. I think Riches is looking pretty good right now. Gilmore’s a dork, everyone in the National knew it, and the words “ticking time bomb” come to mind. I would have done exactly the same thing if I were Riches. No doubt internally there will be a pile of sh*t land on him in the short term (assuming that this wasn’t a National Party plan to get rid of Gilmore and Key is genuinely worried about his majority) but in the long term, I can’t help but think his mana in Christchurch Tory circles will be enhanced. Gilmore was never well liked, except by the one board member that got him into Parliament.

    (an ex-Nat)

    Comment by Thomas — May 10, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  17. I think the real conspiracy theory is Danyl ending the week by trolling his own blog…

    Comment by Grant — May 10, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  18. I thought a MBIE might be something you got after writing out a cheque for fifty grand to any leading NZ university.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 10, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  19. If only it were than straightforward, Sanc. They’re actually making me sit exams ffs.
    Market failure IMO.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 10, 2013 @ 11:13 am

  20. It’s called apophenia

    Comment by NeilM — May 10, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  21. pronounced “Moby”… As well as numerous jokes about big white dicks.

    hey, some of us like his music!

    Comment by Phil — May 10, 2013 @ 11:57 am

  22. @Gregor: should have done a BCom?

    OTT, I don’t think Banks has much chance of being convicted, and if it starts to look bad, they’ll drag the case out past the election (Supreme Court appeal, extraordinary rendition of Kim Dotcom, whatever it takes).

    I assume that Gilmour is a member of the National faction that dress to the right, and he made the mistake of going out on the piss with someone who dresses to the left without checking his trouser area thoroughly. Or vice versa.

    Comment by rich — May 10, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  23. Riches is keen on the job isn’t he?? Talk abouit poop in your nest – before you have an actual nest…

    Comment by Roz — May 10, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  24. Umm, apart from Sanctuary’s assumption at the top of this thread, who said Riches is a Nat, let alone trying for an MP’s spot? But I do agree with Danyl that Riches played this to destroy Gilmore; he could have clarified just the once after Gilmore’s first appalling apology. Holding back the texts (which are a bit ambiguous as to whether Gilmore was agreeing he had bullied the staff) shows Riches wanted to set Gilmore up. Possible sleaze towards Riches’ missus may motivate that.

    But Matthew Hooten was vocal in his demands for Gilmore to go, to an extent I wouldn’t have expected a prominent Nat-aligned PR whizz to be unless the party were backing his sacking. Then Farrar and Slater, then ex-Nats President Michelle Boag. And just now we have a former boss of Gilmore on National Radio claiming Gilmore tried to bully staff in the past. Sure, Aaron may be nasty, but this is just a little too concerted and well-staged to be a whole bunch of people coincidentally putting their two cents in…

    Comment by bob — May 10, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  25. Graeme Henry MP

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — May 10, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  26. What I like is that in the case of Banks, Key told us that the only ethical standard he has to apply is whether the behaviour is legal or not. But in the case of one of his own backbenchers, the standard s rather different (though still motivated more by PM embarrassment than anything involving ethics or truthfulness).

    Comment by Dr Foster — May 10, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

  27. This was obviously all engineered from the very beginning by Patrick Gower, who was also the “waiter”.

    Comment by George D — May 10, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  28. Can someone tell me what the difference is between John Key and Aaron Gilmore? They both tell lies. They both use their position for unethical purposes. The only difference I can see is that Aaron Gilmore uses his power and position to fire people and John Key uses his power and position to hire people. Apart from that small difference in semantics they are both carved from the same block of rotten wood. Gilmore hasn’t done anything that Key hasn’t done. If Gilmore should go then so should Key.

    Key is quoted today as saying “To make a contribution, you have to have integrity, and to have integrity there has to be a directness and fullness in your answers”. This from the guy who has spent the last 6 months giving us evasive un-full answers and brain fades about the GCSB and Dotcom. Gilmore is nothing more than a chip off the old block and is just following in his Master’s footsteps. None of which excuses any of his behaviour but it sure shows John Key up for the two-faced hypocrite he is.

    Comment by Daisy — May 10, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

  29. Dr Foster, regarding the difference between the treatment of Banks and Gilmore standard for members of a PM’s party is higher than the standard for allies; cf Helen Clark’s treatment of David Benson-Pope and Winston Peters.

    Comment by Grant Michael McKenna — May 10, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

  30. Spot on Daisy. The wide-eyed “candid” remarks and “I don’t remember any” s to journos as he departed were almost uncannily Key-like (some clever young thing could do a telling mock-up). The difference is that in Gilly’s case, the journos dug deeper and continue to highlight the lies. The other difference, which may explain the former, is that Key has the power to end careers, whereas poor old Hapless does not.

    Comment by ak — May 11, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

  31. “were almost uncannily Key-like”

    I think a few of the younger Nat MPs like Gilmore, and especially Simon Bridges pretend to be John Key in the mirror when no one’s watching. I heard Bridges on the radio a couple of weeks and I thought at first that it was Key. He seemed to be deliberately mangling words…

    Comment by nommopilot — May 11, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  32. … of course constantly repeating highly scripted talking points will tend to make a lot of politicians sound alike

    Comment by nommopilot — May 11, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  33. @31 Bridges could be the next Key too. Reasonably inoffensive, good at sticking to a script and seems be happy enough to not rock the boat.

    Comment by Alex Braae — May 11, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  34. This is why (except for nerds) people don’t bother voting anymore.

    Comment by Grant — May 12, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  35. UTU! Sounds like Gilmore is planning on airing some dirty laundry in his valedictory speech tomorrow. We’ll probably end up disappointed though.

    Comment by JBGoode — May 13, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

  36. We’ll probably end up disappointed though.

    I’m hoping for a truly bathetic performance; grandiloquent, tearful self-pity mixed with vengeful, vitriolic tirade.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 13, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  37. Ooh! Ooh! And he’ll announce the creation of a new political party!

    Comment by Phil — May 13, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

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