There’s been a lot of praise for Darien Fenton “opening up” about her historic drug addiction and fair enough, good on her for being a little bit open about it.
See NZ Herald: Darien Fenton: ‘It’s a miracle I survived’ – MP Darien Fenton speaks out for the first time about her battle with heroin.
But it’s an odd message. I can understand some defensiveness and self protection, but Fenton plays down her addiction…
So I’m well and truly passed it. It was decades ago, so I’m one of the lucky ones I guess.
… and provides scant details. It comes more as a carefully crafted PR political self promotion rather than a heartfelt revelation.
A comment on Facebook:
The words “public health services, work place accidents, poverty and struggle” appear in the article. This is a Labour Party propaganda article put together by their Comms unit to get publicity after Hoffman’s death.
That’s a fair point, although it isn’t known if it was done by Fenton alone (it doesn’t sound like her language) or by a PR team.
But what really changed me was a job where I experienced first-hand workmates who lost their lives through workplace accidents and coming face to face with families who were struggling.
That is a rather curious explanation for kicking her habit. A workplace death could impact on someone significantly, but it sounds unusual that an addict would give a toss about “families who were struggling”. It’s common for an addict’s own struggles to rule their life.
And it’s not a surprise revelation, I’ve heard it mentioned for years. Ian Wishart revealed Fenton’s addiction and subsequent methadone treatment in his Investigate Magazine in 2008 – Labour MP’s Class-A drug addiction battle.
Fenton has not opened up, she has admitted a little, played down it’s current significance and clammed up – “declined to give further details of her drug use”.
By being vague and not in fact opening up Fenton leaves questions unanswered, so leaves doubts. Should she at least be specific about when she completed her methadone treatment?
This all raises another question – is this just a private issue that Fenton has chosen to reveal a little about? Or is it relevant to Fenton’s job as an MP?
For example in her first term in Parliament Fenton served on the Health Select Committee – was her drug addiction past relevant? Was there any potential conflict of interest?
If Fenton is praised for admitting her past problems and it’s left at that does that show a double standard?
David Garrett got blasted and hounded out of Parliament because of the revelation he had illegally obtained a passport using a false identity – decades ago.
The use of heroin is also illegal, and addicts are often involved in other illegal activities to fund their addiction. Is that a more acceptable breaking of the law than what Garrett did? Garrett claimed his misdemeanour was victimless. Drug addicts impact on more than just themselves, including aiding and abetting other addicts, and making the drug market possible.
Fenton’s experiences with drugs may have been long in the past and could have ended up making her a worthwhile contributor to Parliament. But the same could be said of Garrett. His past, and his failure to be publicly open about his past, were his political downfall and it also severely impacted on the credibility of the Act Party.
I’m in two minds about whether Fenton should actually be open rather than giving a little information along with what seemed like a self serving political promotion – there were mixed messages for sure.
Fenton hasn’t “opened up”, she has confirmed what was already known, with a hint that it’s with political motives, and then clammed up.
And there’s also a very mixed message when a belated slight admission about past misdemeanours is highly praised while the misdemeanour of others were used to destroy their political career due to the impact on their family, with attempts to also destroy their party.