Another National embarrassment

When things swing against political parties it can be hard to turn it around – especially when they keeping doing or saying silly things.

Steven Joyce dragged National down last week when they were already flagging behind Labour in the polls.

Today 38th ranked MP Simon O’Connor has National in the negative news column after a Facebook comment on Sunday night:

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With opponents and journalists looking for something to kick of the week with this got a good airing.

Newshub:  No apology from National MP Simon O’Connor over suicide comments

Hundreds gathered outside Parliament on Sunday to urge the Government to do more on mental health. New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with more than 600 victims in the past year.

O’Connor’s tweet was in response to Jacinda Ardern’s involvment in that.

“It’s strange that Jacinda is so concerned about youth suicide but is happy to encourage the suicide of the elderly, disabled, and sick. Perhaps she just values one group more than the others? Just saying.”

Not surprisingly:

Hundreds expressed outrage on social media, including a number of MPs.

Ardern responded:

Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB on Monday morning euthanasia and suicide were “completely different issues”.

“The 600 people in New Zealand who have taken their own lives will shock and appal all New Zealanders. The fact our mental health services aren’t doing enough for those people, that’s something we should be talking about this election.

“To draw then a comparison to the issue of the people having the ability to make choices about their own end of life if they’re facing terminal illness, is absolutely a completely different issue again.

“I’ve said openly that I believe people should be able to make their own choices in those circumstances. Mr O’Connor disagrees, he chaired a select committee on this issue and disagreed there too. That’s a conscience vote for us all.”

O’Connor said that no apology was necessary.

But rather than withdraw the comments Mr O’Connor is doubling-down, telling Newshub on Monday he had nothing to apologise for.

Mr O’Connor said he didn’t doubt Ms Ardern’s sincerity, but said she should “also be sad about those who are old or depressed or disabled who are also looking to suicide”, and called her views “inconsistent”.

“The intention of taking one’s life is called suicide. There are some who say that there are legitimate opportunities where it should be allowed, and we call that euthanasia or physician-assisted dying. So no, it’s just an inconsistent approach.”

“At one level saying youth suicide is bad, but saying other forms of suicide are acceptable, that’s an inconsistency. That’s always been the approach I’ve had,” he said.

“You cannot allow suicide for some and prevent it for others”.

Predictably Bill English was asked about it and all he could do was lamely slap O’Connor’s hand:

NZH: Bill English tells Simon O’Connor he’s wrong over euthanasia comments

National leader Bill English says he has texted his colleague Simon O’Connor to tell him it was wrong to link suicide and euthanasia.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, English said he didn’t agree with O’Connor.

“We don’t link euthanasia and suicide,” he said.

“In both cases, what’s important here is compassion for people who are vulnerable.

“For suicide, we’re trying to find better and wider solutions as a practical expression of that support for people who are at risk.”

But the damage had been done. This makes National look out of control and out of touch.

O’Connor completed training as a Catholic priest but didn’t seek ordination. He has previously expressed strong views against euthanasia.

But he isn’t totally devout in catholic practices.

Stuff in February last year: National MP Simon O’Connor to marry Minister Simon Bridges’ sister

National MP Simon O’Connor kicked off the new year proposing to Transport Minister Simon Bridges’ sister.

O’Connor’s fiance, Rachel Trimble, who still uses her ex-husband’s name, says politics really runs in the family and she’s joked to O’Connor that he should take her maiden name for fun.

“It’s quite confusing, I’ve had people think that I’m dating Simon Bridges, and I have to explain that he’s my brother,” Trimble said.

“I’m quite surprised he even likes me, considering I have five children…he’s a really kind and caring guy,” she said.

The kids are “great” and “fundamentally they still have a Dad, and it’s not me,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor admits when he was studying to be a priest in the seminary a decade ago he didn’t expect he’d end up marrying an older woman with five children.

Between 1995 and the end of 2004 O’Connor was studying for the priesthood with the Society of Mary.

He completed his studies but when it came to being ordained he decided it wasn’t for him.

“I’m still a man who has beliefs but it’s not a big part of who I am.”

“I don’t regret a day of being in the seminary but you can’t be a politico and a cleric.”

Trimble and O’Connor married in December last year. Unless rules have changed they would not have been able to get married in a Catholic Church.

This latest controversy is a relatively minor embarrassment for National but it could be another nail in their campaign coffin.

20 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  September 11, 2017

    the National candidates get more embarrassing by the day.Dinosaurs is an apt description…they are rooted in the 50’s and about to be rooted on Sept 23rd.

  2. Tipene

     /  September 11, 2017

    The reasons people choose to enact euthanasia and suicide are identical, both result in the decision to end ones life, yet they are not the same issue?

    Existential cognitive dissonance appears to be the new cause célèbre.

  3. Ray

     /  September 11, 2017

    So Labour wants the suicide rate to be zero but wants it to be ok for euthanise sick people.
    What they going to do, make it illegal to attempt suicide, a hanging offence!

    • Blazer

       /  September 11, 2017

      the suicide rate in NZ is not a laughing matter Ray.It is on the rise,and the rate for farmers is out of kilter.I’m sure you know the difference about suicide,euthenasia and…abortion.

  4. chrism56

     /  September 11, 2017

    There is a large social conservative constituency out there. Many practicing Catholics, fundamentalists and churchgoing PIs would agree with Mr O’Connor. I note even Family First support him.
    http://bobmccoskrie.com/?p=20289#sthash.aXjNo3RZ.dpbs
    Whether one agrees with their views or not (I don’t), they are potentially a lot of votes. If Gloriavale or the Exclusive Brethren voted, they could easily swing several electorates

    • Blazer

       /  September 11, 2017

      Is ‘hopeless Christian’ really that influential.?The exclusive Brethren are hypocrites of the highest order.I see where you come from..now.

  5. Patzcuaro

     /  September 11, 2017

    There seems to have been an outbreak of the foot in mouth virus in the National caucus of late. A touch of empathy wouldn’t go amiss. They may have plenty of time for recuperation from next month on.

  6. Gezza

     /  September 11, 2017

    THE BUNG

    A boat’s no good without its bung
    In fact it’s flamin hopeless
    Just when you sit back with your rod
    You find you’re bloody boatless!

    Where did I put that bleedin bung
    You think as your boat’s sinking
    My flippin boots are filling up
    I’m going down you’re thinking

    Oh shit my life vest’s on the boat
    This could get feckin gory
    I’m miles out here from anywhere
    And no one saves a Tory!

    by His Holiness, the Most Excellent
    Sir Gerald Ormsby Battersea Bradders
    UE, RSVP, 2IC, & UFB

  7. John W

     /  September 12, 2017

    Pete,

    As a catholic I want to point out your comment is not strictly correct about O’Conner and Bridge’s marriage. There are a multitude of cases where he would be able to be validly married within the church. The most obvious one is if Bridge’s never married the biological father of her children. The less obvious ones include if Bridge’s was not baptized at the point of her first marriage, or if she entered into a marriage outside the catholic church.

    The Church says marriage is permanent if it is a sacrament (between two baptized people intending for it to be perminant).

    Thirty years ago when almost all Christians were baptized and had a greater view of the permanency of marriage you would have been correct, marrying someone who had a living partner was close to impossible.

    These days, from personal experience it’s doubtful if any of the non Catholic weddings I’ve attended would hold up as a sacrament.

    Now I couldn’t tell you O’Conner’s or Bridge’s situation from soap, so your claim may be correct but there isn’t enough information to go on from the article.

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 12, 2017

    Storm in a teacup?

    • Patzcuaro

       /  September 12, 2017

      I agree but it shows a lack of discipline/thought and must be frustrating for English as he tries to keep the campaign going forward. A unnecessary distraction for him.

      There is a massive difference between a young person committing suicide and a person nearing the end of their life wanting to die with dignity.

  9. artcroft

     /  September 12, 2017

    Lisa Owen did a spot on this on one of the news shows last night. As per usual she erred on the side of advocacy rather than reporting. Someone should let her know Mike Hosking got the pundit’s role at 7. She only needs to report the news.