The Gilmore damage

Aaron Gilmore has been back in Parliament just a few months, and is as low and ineffectual as National MP could be. But his drunken stupidity and his subsequent dishonest apologies and possible dishonest assurance to the Prime Minister could have a significant effect on our politics, albeit mostly negative.

Gilmore has damaged his own political career, possibly terminally.

There is also some damage to his party, reinforcing a belief by some that that all of National see themselves as privileged rich pricks. Some critics on the left are trying to inflate this damage.

And there could yet be damage to the National Government. If John Key has no choice but to have Gilmore excommunicated from National and Gilmore remains in Parliament as an independent MP (Key can’t remove him from being a list MP) that could be problematic for a Government that frequently has a majority of one.

There is also wider damage.

Many people outside politics view all MPs in the same light – dimly. Gilmore reinforces a wider impression that all MPs are arrogant and full of self importance.

Gilmore has also highlighted another problem, in two ways.

He is a symptom of the lack of depth of quality of MPs in Parliament. All parties with multiple MPs suffer from this, from NZ First and Greens to Labour and National.

And second, he be helping discourage people putting themselves forward to be an MP.

One probable reason it is hard to recruit quality political candidates is the exposure it gives the people and often to their families. If an MP makes a mistake or few, as Gilmore has, the media switch to over exposure mode. Criticism of Gilmore has now also become ridicule, with Campbell Live running showing Gilmore in a very unflattering way, going through things he has said about himself in the past.

Gilmore has not only trashed his own reputation, he has also impacted on the reputation of National and of Parliament.

Some people may be prepared to put themselves forward to be considered as MP prospects because they think they could at least do better than Gilmore.

But more people are likely to be further warned that the life of a politician can expose you to sometimes extreme scrutiny and criticism.

I’ve had a taste of this, I only operate in a small way on the very periphery of politics, but I have experienced targeted abuse and attempts to discredit simply because of being seen as a potential threat to someone or some party who thinks i could be competition, or could be critical of them.

On a bigger scale media give super exposure to MPs given any excuse. The Gilmore gaffs gave them a license to shrill.

Such is the vagaries of modern society, where one night getting pissed and in this case flaunting political power can potentially cause a lot of flow on damage.

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