• What Was He Doing?

    Simon Bridges’ explanation that his hitting of the “like” button on Cameron Slater’s Twitter post ridiculing the Prime Minister’s partner, Clarke Gayford, was “accidental” should no doubt be taken at face value.  It beggars belief that the National party leader would allow himself to be seen as openly supporting such a disreputable campaign, especially after he had so publicly warned his party against being associated with it in any way.

    But, even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, his admission raises a number of questions which need answering.  Any association between senior members of the National party and Cameron Slater will revive memories of the allegations made before the last election that “dirty tricks” and “the black arts” were employed by the party and that Cameron Slater was their attack dog of choice.

    Slater was known to be particularly close to Judith Collins; they are on record as instructing each other on how to treat their opponents and congratulating each other on their “successes”.    Slater regarded Collins as his mentor, while she saw him as a partner in crime, prepared to use any means to inflict damage on those who could be seen as enemies.  She advocated what she called the Double Rule, meaning that if someone attacked you or was opposed to you, you hit them back twice as hard. “If you can’t be loved, then best to be feared,” she said.

    With this link fresh in the public mind, why, in other words, was Simon Bridges following Cameron Slater on Twitter in the first place?  It was surely sailing too close to the wind to run the risk of re-establishing in the public mind the impression that National’s leadership was still working closely with the notorious blogger.  Bridges has his hands full enough in trying to establish himself favourably in the public mind without making the task more difficult by rubbing shoulders with such unhelpful “allies”.

    And when Simon Bridges identified Slater’s post concerning Clarke Gayford and its import, why did he linger long enough to allow his thumb to wander to an inappropriate button?  And if he can’t control his own thumb, what chance does he have of controlling his party, Judith Collins and all?

    The whole episode is a sad commentary on the state of New Zealand politics and public life.  Politics is a tough business, and there is a tendency on the part of its practitioners (and perhaps of the public as well) to believe that “all’s fair in love and war – and politics” and that “the ends justify the means”.  But once we allow this to be accepted, we have lost one of the most valued principles of our public life and one that we have traditionally celebrated – that we have the right to expect of our political leaders that they should conduct themselves with honesty and decency.

    If that is once lost, then “anything goes”, no one can be trusted, and the whole point and purpose of democratic government is cast aside and destroyed.  The episode tells us that it is not just Simon Bridges’ reputation that is at stake but that important standards are at risk – and that we are at least entitled to say to him, when assessing (and accepting) his explanation, “not good enough – must try harder”.

    Bryan Gould

    10 May 2018

     

     

1 Comment

  1. Jon says: May 11, 2018 at 4:05 amReply

    Bryan what is your view on male suicide rates and boys failing in education and left wing women condeming blue collar men and academics at large. Since you care so much about society? All this is doing is paving the way for trump and orban and the right wing. Because people struggling especially boys have no voice and online right wingers are the only option.

    Shame on you