In an NZ Herald article on David Shearer’s demise as Labour leader a sad observation is made:
The Mana Party’s Hone Harawira said he always found Mr Shearer to be “very, very friendly and very open”.
“I think that was probably his downfall. Nice guys don’t last long in this game.”
That’s how Harawira sees it, and I know others in politics see it that way. I was this told myself recently on Whale Oil.
This sounds to me like it is an attempt to excuse bad behaviour, to excuse politicians who act awfully.
Some of the longest standing politicians in Parliament are widely regarded as decent, nice people – for example Phil Goff and Peter Dunne, both MPs since the 1980s.
There are also long serving MPs with reputations of being not so nice at times, like Trevor Mallard, Winston Peters and Clayton Cosgrove.
Politicians can be strong and still by nice. That means standing up and challenging the nastiness, and make it clear it doesn’t belong in Parliament. MPs are the people’s representatives, so they should represent decent and honourable behaviour.
Politics needs more nice guys and women. Strong and principled works best with nice.