Trump administration low on ethics

A Gallup poll rates the Trump administration the lowest on ethics of an administration since polling on ethics began in the 1980s.

Overall, how would you rate the ethical standards of top Trump administration officials — as excellent, good, not good or poor?

  • Excellent 7%
  • Good 30%
  • TOTAL FAVOURABLE 37%
  • Not good 19%
  • Poor 40%
  • TOTAL UNFAVOURABLE 59%

Gallup: Trump Administration Officials Get Low Marks on Ethics

  • Lowest administration ethics rating Gallup has measured
  • Contrary to typical pattern, Trump job approval exceeds ethics rating
  • May 1-10 Gallup poll.

With Trump approval ratings averaging on the low forties that suggests that some people don’t care  much about ethics.

Past poll results:

The only other president below 50% was Bill Clinton and he recovered significantly.

Why do our MPs behave so badly?

Sue Kedgley asks this question. It’s not all MPs that behave badly, I’ve had communication with a number of MPs who strongly support better parliamentary behaviour – see Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill.

But some MPs do behave badly, and behaviour in parliament, especially during question time, often seems dominated by the bad behavers.

It’s no wonder we don’t trust MPs

Why do our MPs behave so badly?

I seldom watch Question Time in Parliament these days.

I sometimes wonder who does, other than the press gallery, parliamentary staff, lobbyists and those with a masochistic streak.

It’s supposed to be the high point of the parliamentary day – a time when the opposition can grill the government and hold it to account.

But more often than not it’s a low point – an hour when MPs let off steam by shouting, jeering, point scoring, hurling abuse and bickering with each other.

Few questions are actually answered during Question Time, either, as most ministers are trained in the art of evading rather than answering questions. And some questions aren’t intended to solicit answers, but simply to score points or attack the Government.

A lot of time is wasted on points of order, too, or barracking or interrupting the other side. And the general impression is that nobody is listening, or is there learn. So I decided to watch Question Time the other day, to see if it had improved at all in recent months.

Sadly, it hadn’t. The session was banal, frustrating and pointless.

Sadly that’s the impression of parliament that a lot of people get. Much parliamentary work goes on away from the cameras and media coverage.

But what should be the showpiece of Parliament is odten a shampiece.

To be fair, the present Speaker, Dr Lockwood Smith, has tried harder than most of his predecessors to get ministers to answer questions.

But despite his best efforts, Question Time remains a hopelessly unsatisfying political game. For most MPs, the objective is not to elicit or divulge genuine information, but to score points and attack the other side.

This is a real pity, as Question Time is one of the few times when the House is full, and the press gallery is in attendance. Most of the rest of the time the House is deserted.

Yes, if you watch parliamentary television coverage, apart from question time the house looks mostly deserted.

It’s easy for MPs to get caught up in the daily ritual of Question time, and to end up thinking that the shouting and abuse is normal and acceptable behaviour.

But outside of Parliament, many find it off-putting and even pathetic.

Yes. Many of those outside the political beltway and bubbles often see it as pathetic.

Back in 2002 a group of Wellington High school pupils observed Question Time, and wrote a report about it, expressing their shock at the aggressive, bullying culture in Parliament.

“There was a lot of verbal violence. MPs shouted at each other and abused each other. They would groan or jeer or interrupt if they disagreed with what was being said.

“They didn’t listen to each other and there was no sense of working toward anything.”

The behaviour in the House would not be accepted in the classroom, they concluded, or even the playground.

Fairly typical observations of people not familiar with ‘normal’ parliament.

Many MPs dismiss these sorts of criticism, and defend Question Time, arguing that it is all part of the robust cut and thrust of politics. But I believe the constant sniping and personal attacks have a corrosive effect on public perceptions of parliament and politicians.

Political activists also think that negative, attack politics and bad behaviour is “the robust cut and thrust of politics”.

And political activists seem to behave at their worst when defending this bad behaviour, they seem to hate being confronted on it. In my extensive experience on political social media the worst I see sems to be when activists are trying to defend bad behaviour like blatant lying or abuse.

I’ve been banned or blocked from commenting from three major political blogs for confronting nasty politics.

And when I suggested on Trade Me Message Board yesterday that Labour were acting badly I got the usual attacks.

Bad MP behaviour is supported by political activists.

This needs to be countered. ‘Good’ MPs need to be more vocal in demanding better behaviour of their colleagues.

And those commenting in political social media should speak up more demanding a better standard of politics.

Why do our MPs behave so badly? Because we let them keep getting away with it.

Ethical Mallardy for Shearer

Trevor Mallard has questioned the ethics of other MPs a number of times. For example:

TREVOR Well, I think we’ve got a possum in the headlights in John Banks, and we’ve got a contagion on the side of John Key. The longer John Key keeps Banks there, the worse Key looks. And I think in politics, that’s successful. As a parliamentarian, I hate it. Guys who are acting like Banks, who can’t remember, who’s before the police on a serious electoral-fraud charge, someone whose ethics are questionable, someone who lied to the media, just shouldn’t be in Parliament.

(PAUL HOLMES INTERVIEWS TREVOR MALLARD Sunday, 6 May, 2012 )

Mallard has been accusing MPs of various misdeameamours recently, including Judith Collins, John Banks and John Key. Yesterday he publicised and released National party documents. He claims:

Every now and again infighting gets so bad in the Nats that some gems are delivered to me. In this case it is a set of their Board and Board committee minutes.

The contents of these documents appear to mainly trivial (to the public) and are quite dated – March 2011 (EDIT the hading shows 2012, the footers 2011) – although they are presented now as a major revelation, as illustrated by what could be a proxy post by Mallard at The Standard:

Nat Civil War: ceasefire breached

Written By: – Date published: 6:35 am, May 9th, 2012

Well, that didn’t take long. A couple of weeks of quiet (probably thanks to some good polls more than anything) and, now, the National Party Civil War has re-erupted as the Collins and Joyce factions fight over the post-Key future. The leaking of National Party board minutes shows how serious the fighting is and reveals strong opposition to Slater/Lusk’s tactics.

This post claims:

It seems someone has leaked National Party board minutes. There can hardly be a greater breach of the party’s security than having that information in the public eye, except for the leaking of the emails of the leader himself.

The leaking itself highlights the level of factional infighting in National, as do the contents.

Apart from them being historical documents being used to suggest current problems (in typical overdone Standard fashion) there are now reports they could be stolen stolen and not leaked:

Secret Nats documents may have been stolen (TV3)

It’s possible the documents were handed to Mallard giving him no indication of how they were obtained. But it will have been obvious to him that they were confidential, they were very clealry marked with:

CONFIDENTIAL. TO BOARD MEMBERS ONLY. NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED.

Back to ethics. How ethical is it to keep those documents? And to use them in a carefully planned and orchestrated publicity attempt  – I knew this release was imminent over a month ago.

That in itself is highly questionable ethics for anyone, let alone a senior MP.

But it is not just one MP acting alone. Mallard has obviously been involving other’s from Labour in this – including Greg Presland, Chair of the Labour Party’s Auckland-Northland Regional Council, who joins in with:

 Has Banks been training Key how to answer questions about Simon Lusk?

And I also question how ethical it is for the Labour MP run blog Red Alert to have stored on it and made available for public viewing confidential documents obviously belonging to another party.

Hypocrisy is another word that comes to mind – an MP questioning others about their ethics is involved in highly questionable ethics, and also involving the Labour Party directly while doing this.

Important questions for David Shearer:

  1. Is it appropriate for a senior Labour MP to be involved in dealing with leaked and possibly stolen documents?
  2. Isn it appropriate for a Labour MP run website to store and make available to the public documents clealry confidential, clearly belonging to another party, and possible stolen?