Tracy Watkins writes:
John Banks’ resignation may be the least surprising outcome of the last few days.
The more revealing responses have been those of many of Banks’ allies.
John Key did not resile from his view that Banks was an honest man. Former ACT leader Richard Prebble insisted that Banks’ crime was nothing more than a clerical error.
Given the propensity of both ACT and National to play the law and order card you would think the fact that Banks had been found guilty of a crime punishable by two years in prison or a hefty fine would have resonated more strongly.
Even more telling was Prebbles defence on Q+A that he had seen any number of electoral returns over the years that were works of fiction.
He has not been the first to make that observation amid the fallout over Banks’ trial.
Loads of people have argued that Banks should have clemency because the law he broke is a silly one. As Andrew Geddis points out, Banks’ opponent in the mayoralty race also concealed the identity of his donors but he did so through a trust so he couldn’t be charged.
But loads of people who get caught breaking, say, our drug laws do so because they think those laws are silly. They still get charged and the state still crushes them. They don’t get loads of opinion writers wringing their hands and demanding that the madness stop because they’ve suffered enough, dammit, because they’re primarily brown and poor while Banks is rich and white.
Secondly, like most of the laws that politicians design to regulate themselves (electoral finance laws especially) they’re silly and broken for a reason – to allow politicians to solicit money from the people they intend to govern without the appearance of open corruption. And Banks isn’t some innocent victim of that law – he’s a high-standing member of the political class that designed it: former Cabinet Minister, MP for twenty years, former mayor of Auckland etc. If politicians are going to introduce laws that are deliberately stupid and pointless the least they can do is abide by them and get punished when they don’t – not break them at a whim and then whine about how the law is an ass when they’re the ones who fucking wrote it.