More on ‘Kiwi values’ and NZ First and MPs

One of the things to come out of the NZ First conference last weekend was a call for legislation to ensure immigrants comply with some vague ‘Kiwi values’. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it from Labour, Greens and National, but they weren’t the voter demographic that NZ First would have been targeting.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff):  Whistling on migration yet leaving migration high: what’s Winston playing at?

But here’s the thing about Peters’ perennial race-baiting – given airing most recently following a remit at the party’s 25th birthday over the weekend. He campaigns on the immigration issue every election, but Peters has been in the powerbroker position in government three times now, and each of those governments has seen very high levels of net migration of what his supporters and voters consider “the wrong sort” of people.

There are a few reasons for this. Most populist, anti-migrant politicians believe what they say about “our values” and “preserving our way of life”, and at least attempt to reduce migration when they get into office. Trump has his Muslim-ban; the conservatives have Brexit. But Peters’ statements about migrants appear to be as meaningful as so much else he says, ie nothing. It is useful for him to race-bait by grandstanding about immigration but never useful for him to ever do anything about the issue.

He could probably make the government reduce its intake of non-white migrants, if he was so inclined: we’ve just seen the passage of the waka-jumping bill; it appears that Peters can get Labour and the Greens to do pretty much anything. But so long as his voters and the true-believers in his party never figure out the nature of his MO there’s no incentive for him to act.

If Peters actually forced a significant reduction in immigration it would remove one of his campaign tools – attacking immigrants to attract votes from suckers.

…New Zealand First’s donors in the fishing and forestry sectors rely on high levels of migration to preserve a low-wage workforce working in high risk conditions. Maintaining those conditions is core business for Peters and Shane Jones. The people who pay for the party, who occupy the boardrooms of the fishing industry, are far more exacting than the suckers occupying the TV rooms of the retirement villages, who vote for it.

And talking about values, Andrea Vance (Stuff):  NZ First MP campaigning for ‘Kiwi values’ was ruled unfit to run a pub

The NZ First MP behind a “values” bill which could expel migrants was once judged unfit to run pubs because of his criminal record.

Clayton Mitchell wants new migrants to sign up to a cultural “code of conduct” that includes a commitment not to campaign against the legality of alcohol.

Mitchell is a former publican – but his licence to run a bar was cancelled after a series of incidents. They included a suspended prison sentence for assault – which a judge called an act of serious violence – and a dangerous driving conviction.

Two years later, Mitchell won back his certificate –  supported by a reference from former police officer Brad Shipton, who was subsequently disgraced over a rape conviction.

Those values have been under a lot of criticism lately, with #meto and the controversy over the appointment of Wally Haumata as Deputy Police Commissioner – Haumata has what looks like close links with Peters and another NZ First MP, Fletcher Tabuteau.

A couple of ex-MPs joined the discussion on Twitter:

 

Perhaps we need better vetting of the values of party list MPs before we worry too much about immigrants.

Oh, and talking of MP values, this is what Mitchell said when informed Vance was investigating his past:

The second term MP initially didn’t want to be interviewed by Stuff. “Is this one of your dirty little stories? You better get your facts right, because I tell you what, you better get your facts right or you’ll get yourself in a hell of a lot of trouble,” he said.

Taht sort of threat ois more likely to get Mitchell in trouble, but that’s unlikely with Peters who often attacks and threatens journalists.

Vance hopefully got these facts right.

In a subsequent response to emailed questions, however, he acknowledged:

* A conviction of assault with intent to injure in what a judge described as an “act of serious violence on your part.”
* A conviction for dangerous driving.
* A conviction for a “lock-in” at one of his bars – allowing customers to drink outside of the licensed hours.

They came from Mitchell so they should be accurate.

 

 

“National struggles to fill list”

Tracey Watkins has written about Aaron Gilmore and the quality of MPs in National struggles to fill list despite healthy pay.

The money’s good, the hours are flexible and the job comes with influence and power. But apparently it’s a struggle finding decent applicants for a job as an MP, even on a hefty pay packet of $142,000 a year, plus expenses.

National also runs an “integrated list” – which means candidates prepared to put their hand up in unwinnable seats are rewarded with a list placing as well.

That was how Mr Gilmore got a place on the party list, because he stood for Christchurch East, where National had no chance of winning.

In safe seats like Tamaki, however, four or five high-quality candidates would jostle for selection – but only one would make the cut.

Many high-fliers, meanwhile, were not prepared to give up their other lives for an uncertain political future.

Watkins quotes David Farrar who had blogged on this in List Ranking:

“Unless you really rate yourself to become a minister and, more importantly, you can see yourself becoming a minister in three or four years, the salary doesn’t attract some of the high-fliers”.

“The reality is … you go in at the bottom of the pile and if you’re lucky, or like Nikki Kaye work really hard, you get to become a minister. But if National had lost the last election, she also could have spent the next six or seven years in Opposition.”

There are major time and financial commitments in standing for Parliament. Farrar has previously said that a candidate needs to dedicate at least six months leading up to an election. And many people having their first attempt will be low on the list and/or will be standing in an unwinnable seat, so the chances of success are limited.

People wanting to maintain business activity or employment simply can’t afford the time off that campaigning requires, especially if standing for one of the major parties.

Watkins also says former Labour Party president Mike Williams…

…says Labour doesn’t have the same problem because for most of its candidates $142,000 is a lot of money.

But Labour candidates also have the time commitment problem – and they are not guaranteed to get the $142,000 salary at the end of the campaign. Over half their candidates in 2011 failed to make it into Parliament.

Labour may have less of a problem getting candidates – but they have at least as much of a problem getting quality candidates. Even though they have not much more than half the MPs that National has the depth of quality is hardly stellar. There are calls from within Labour ranks to revitalise their line up of MPs.

Another aspect regarding quality of lists is that how a successful candidate will measure up as an MP is a lottery.It is a totally different job for all new MPs. Some rise to the task, some don’t – like Aaron Gilmore up until now.

Greens have weaknesses in their list of MPs.

And all the small parties have real difficulty in getting quality candidates.

I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to improve the quality of MPs. Maybe we just have to accept the system as it is and take our chances with who we get to represent us in Parliament.

 

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.

Conflicting Gilmore claims

Did Aaron Gilmore threaten he would get the prime Minister to end a waiter’s employment?

According to Andrew Riches’ statement:

I felt compelled to leave a private note of apology directly in relation to one incident at the conclusion of the night where Mr Gilmore attempted to use his status as a Member of Parliament to his own advantage once he had been denied further alcohol service.

He threatened to have the Prime Minister’s Office intervene and end the waiter’s employment.

His business card was presented to verify his identity.

John Key’s statement:

“My Chief of Staff has rung Mr Gilmore this afternoon and Mr Gilmore refuted the allegation.

Mr Gilmore indicated that he did not believe that he used the words claimed in Mr Riches statement.”

One person’s word against another.

Without the waiter giving his version it may remain at that, Key has said that he has to accept Gilmore’s assurance without getting a formal complaint. Presumably Andrew Riches could make such a complaint. There is no indication that he will.

How convincing is Gilmore’s denial? From the original news report (Aaron Gilmore – dickhead unapologetic):

Gilmore told The Press restaurant staff had unfairly blamed him for the behaviour of the whole group, and there was “no story” in what occurred.

He said he had apologised to the hotel staff after two members of the dining party became “grossly intoxicated”, with one needing to be escorted away.

However, he was “not aware” of being rude or making the alleged comments to the barman.

He could not be sure if he or another member of his party told the waiter to “stop being a dickhead” while discussing liquor-licensing laws.“I don’t know if that was said by me or another colleague. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.”

He later said, “It may well have been me.”

However, he later retracted the comment.

Take from that what you like.

Helen Kelly right and wrong on Gilmore

Helen Kelly has added to the growing criticisms of Aaron Gilmore – Unions call for Gilmore to resign

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said Gilmore’s behaviour toward the waiter demonstrated his ”completely unacceptable attitude”.

Gilmore had abused a position of power, she said, and shown an ”absolute disregard for the law, and the respect for working people”.

He had also not considered the impact the ordeal would have on the waiter and his livelihood, she said.

”You put yourself in this young person’s position and that’s a very very difficult position to be in.

”In a place like Hanmer where employment is not plentiful it’s a huge threat.”

Kelly believed Gilmore should face serious consequences for his actions.

So far Kelly is right.

”If he won’t resign I think they should kick him out,” she said.

No, Gilmore is a list MP and can’t be kicked out,. That’s why Brendon Horan remains an MP despite Winston’s disapproval of him.

”This issue raises questions on the nature of the National Party.”

Not really, no more than Kelly getting involved in petty political pointscoring would raise questions about the nature of the Council of Trade Unions.

This is clearly the actions of one MP who wouldn’t have been returned to Parliament if Kelly’s Labour Party hadn’t done so badly in the last election.

Whether Gilmore resigns or not his political future looks short. Colin Espiner explains:

There isn’t an awful lot Key can do to Gilmore in the short term, given he has no portfolios to be stripped of and no real responsibility for anything besides his account at Bellamy’s. The Heritage Hotel has said it is unlikely to file a complaint that could trigger disciplinary procedures against him.

But list MPs live or die by the party’s favour, and Gilmore shouldn’t expect a particularly high list ranking next year.

National are most likley going to have less MPs after the election next year anyway, and if Gilmore makes it onto the list it sounds like it will be too low to make the cut.

In 2011 Gilmore was the lowest ranked sitting MP on National’s list at 53.

More on Gilmore

The Aaron Gilmore train wreck continues. He has posted yet another version of an apology on his Facebook page:

I wish to offer my wholehearted apology for my comments given to a barman following a recent private dinner. They were inappropriate and given recent media comments wish to make clear the offending were due to my comments and not those of any one of my friends.

I am sorry for any offense taken by the hotel staff and others.

I have written a formal apology to the Hotel and the Prime Minister.

I am also sorry that this behavior has brought shame to me, my family, friends and my work as a MP.

The whole episode has been a learning lesson and I wish to move on.

I’m sure he does wish the attention moved on to something else. This apology could be too little too late.

A more detailed post at coNZervative: Aaron’s Contradictory Apologies

Gilmore digs deeper with half arsed apologies

Aaron Gilmore “apologised” in Twitter:

Aaron Gilmore ‏@aarongilmore

I’ve apologised again for any offence that may have been taken from the behaviour of my group and I that a waiter may have received on Sat.

That’s no better than his last attempt, and repeating the same mistake makes it worse.

Toby Manhire at The Listener: “which frankly amounts to a fraction rather less than half-arsed”.

A fairly big fraction.

Gilmore has been reported to be refusing to do any interviews, but has issued a media statement.

Aaron Gilmore
National Party MP

Media Statement

2 May 2013

MP Aaron Gilmore apologises

National List MP Aaron Gilmore is this morning apologising to staff and patrons at the Heritage Hotel Hamner Springs following a dinner he atended there on Saturday 27 April.

“As a group of diners our behaviour was at times boisterous and I sincerely apologise for any offence this may have caused any staff and/or patrons”, Mt Gilmore said.

“I intend to convey my apologies on behalf of the group to hotel staff and understand that Members of Parliament should uphold, and be seen to uphold, the highest of standards at all times”.

“On this occasion I believe as a group, our behaviour fell short of this mark, and I should have recognised this at the time”.

“I also plan to pass my apologies on to the Prime Minister for failing to meet the standards I believe National MP’s should uphold.

That’s another half arsed apology, trying to spread the blame across the whole group and failing to accept full responsibility for his own behaviour. As per my previous post – Aaron Gilmore – dickhead unapologetic – one of that group was embarassed by Gilmores own specific behaviour:

A lawyer friend of Christchurch-based MP Aaron Gilmore was so embarrassed by the politician’s behaviour after a bottle and a half of wine that he wrote an apology to hotel staff.

Riches last night confirmed he left the note for the waiter, saying he did so because he felt Gilmore had been “a bit rude” and he felt “a bit embarrassed by what happened”.

The Press understands the note apologised on behalf of Gilmore for his “appalling” conduct and congratulated the waiter on his professionalism.

Gilmore is still failing to meet the standards expected of any MP.

And MP mistakes lead to a lot more scrutiny. Toby Manhire has added to his post at The Listener:

Postscript: An afterthought. Maybe it was all just research. For guess who said:

We cannot legislate away New Zealand’s binge-drinking culture, but legislation can contribute to a culture change.

And:

We are all worried about the impacts of alcohol; we are all worried about the impacts of alcohol on young people in particular. As one of the youngest members of this House, I have recently experienced and seen many of the things that alcohol can do to young people. In my time as a young man, I have been one of the generation that has been a guinea pig for alcohol laws.

And:

Youth are not always the sole problem in regard to drinking. I can tell members that the most scared I have ever been in my entire life was when I was a bar manager in Christchurch, on the night of a male strip revue, and 20 middle-aged women were liquored up to the max, to the extent that I was frightened to leave the building and I locked myself in the toilet. I was the most frightened I had ever been in my entire life. When 20 drunken middle-aged women were chasing me, looking for action, I can tell members that that was the most frightening moment of my life.

And:

I have seen many, many middle-aged people out of control from drinking. A number of members of this House have had their problems with drinking, with drink-driving, and with other things needing professional help for their drinking.

And:

I enjoy a social drink with my friends and whānau, and I would hate to see a move to restrict too far the law-abiding people who wish to pick up a bottle of wine at the supermarket and enjoy it with good food, or to see a restriction on my ability to know what is the biggest special on wine at my supermarket.

That’s from A balanced plan for alcohol reform

A balanced to apologies and alcohol reform might be in order.

Aaron Gilmore – dickhead unapologetic

An arrogant returning back bench MP appears to have made a dick of himself, and by association of National.

Aaron Gilmore has been back in parliament just a couple of months (he replaced Lockwood Smith on National’s list) but in his rise to excessive self importance his impact doesn’t look pretty.

Stuff report: Apology over MP’s flare-up in restaurant

Sources close to the Heritage Hanmer Springs hotel said Gilmore called a waiter a “dickhead”, handed over his business card and made a comment along the lines of “Don’t you know who I am? I’m an important politician.”

Gilmore then insulted the waiter, the source said.

This happened when Gilmore was in Hanmer Springs attending the National Party’s mainland region conference.

But it is not Gilmore who has apologised, it was a friend who was with him and seems to have been embarrassed by his behaviour.

A lawyer friend of Christchurch-based MP Aaron Gilmore was so embarrassed by the politician’s behaviour after a bottle and a half of wine that he wrote an apology to hotel staff.

Riches last night confirmed he left the note for the waiter, saying he did so because he felt Gilmore had been “a bit rude” and he felt “a bit embarrassed by what happened”.

The Press understands the note apologised on behalf of Gilmore for his “appalling” conduct and congratulated the waiter on his professionalism.

Not a good look for Gilmore, nor for National. Gilmore’s response has not helped his case.

However, the National Party backbencher yesterday called the incident a “misunderstanding” and denied he used his position as a politician.

While “some inappropriate comments might seem to have been made”, they had been apologised for, he said.

Weasely words, not denying it but not accepting any responsibility for his own behaviour – it wasn’t Gilmore who apologised for that.

Gilmore told The Press restaurant staff had unfairly blamed him for the behaviour of the whole group, and there was “no story” in what occurred.

He said he had apologised to the hotel staff after two members of the dining party became “grossly intoxicated”, with one needing to be escorted away.

However, he was “not aware” of being rude or making the alleged comments to the barman.

He could not be sure if he or another member of his party told the waiter to “stop being a dickhead” while discussing liquor-licensing laws.“I don’t know if that was said by me or another colleague. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.”

He later said, “It may well have been me.”

However, he later retracted the comment.

Gilmore also said: “I can’t be 100 per cent sure of everything I say after having a bottle and a half of wine, but I think someone has misinterpreted what was said.”

Gilmore said he handed the barman his business card, so they could talk the next day if there were any more issues.

The comments at the restaurant must have been “a bit misconstrued”, he said.

Gilmore said he thanked hotel staff the next day, and told them the call to refuse to sell his group more alcohol was “fair enough”.

He said there was no mention of him having behaved poorly.

There is plenty of mention of that now. And he is trying to spread blame across the whole group – while there may be some justification for that he is avoiding dealing with his own behaviour.

Getting pissed is risky for a public figure, even for an obscure back bencher. Being an over important dickhead is a bigger risk.

This may sound worse than what actually happened.

But Gilmore’s fobbing off changing excuses are not helping his case. No matter how much of a dickhead he was, his handling of the ensuing attention he has attracted just increases the dickishness.

A bigger person would deal with this with an appropriate apology – a direct apology, not a “if anyone was inadvertently offended” weasel apology won’t repair all the damage but it will stop the dick erecting more of a low ranked reputation.

A spokeswoman for Key said his office had received no complaints from the hotel, but would look into any that were received.

“The prime minister expects the highest level of behaviour from his caucus,” she said.

Gilmore shouldn’t wait for the possibility this embarrassment will rise through the party channels, or he might find himself dropping off the bottom of the party list. If a decent apology is not already too late.