Have MPs got issues taped?
When it happens to elephants, it’s called “musth”.
The Oxford dictionary tells me it’s “a state of frenzy associated with the breeding season”. Crops are damaged, buildings destroyed and odd passers-by get stomped on in a really big way.
With MPs, there’s also a season of frenzy, but it doesn’t involve sex – simply an urge for power, getting it or keeping it. And it happens every three years in the build-up to a general election.
The outcome is that reputations get damaged, commonsense is destroyed and facts get stomped.
No question, we’re in the middle of months of political musth.
For a couple of weeks it was Winstongate with its undertones of party secrets being passed on, presumably in dimly-lit underground carparks. Then, along came The Great Secret Taping Affair – who said what and what did it mean. Is this the worst thing since Watergate and Deep Throat?
This is how an angry longtime Labour MP and former minister Michael Bassett climbed into the topic on his blog at www.michaelbassett. co.nz:
“With the morals of an elderly uninvited funeral-goer he/she helped themselves to the wine and savouries while snuggling alongside private conversations at a private function, recording without permission some comments and probably splicing them to sex up the story:”
Remember, this a longtime Labour stalwart and it was a National conference.
Well, feel free to tape this opinion, if that’s what turns you on:
Votes will not be won or lost over the taping issue. It’s true that the future of Winston and his party may swing on the great serial story from the privileges committee hearing.
But the real need is for the MPs, our employees whose pay, perks and pension we pay for, to undergo a public personality change so they begin concentrating on the issues.
Like the cost of living, fears about safety in the community, public health, the future of our children, that latest report commissioned by Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro and Barnardos, showing about 230,000 New Zealand children, or 22 percent, are living in unacceptable poverty.
And what about the plight of thousands of the elderly, and those battered and dead children whose fate still make regular and disgraceful headlines. In the media: A Christchurch man who was fed-up confronted car tearaways – no boy racers in this column, thank you very much – and as a result faced charges which can put you in jail.
In the mailbag, from a mother: “My son, his girlfriend and friend went to get a video late one Sunday afternoon.
“When they came out there was a gang of scruffy youths hanging around my son’s car, about six of them ranging in age from 14 with an older one in his late 20s.
“They exchanged words, my son and friend were pushed around and up against the window of the shop. Some of the gang were sitting on the car and bouncing on the bonnet.
“Yes, my son and his friend would have probably defended his property – as a 19-year-old working in a good job he paid $14,000 for his car, which is his pride and joy.
“My son’s friend managed to get out a small baseball bat kept under the passenger seat.
“He warned them if they touched the car he would use it. This changed things slightly.
“My son was punched but let go.
“A member of the public rang the police and the gang took off on foot. Thinking all was well, my son got his girlfriend and friend into the car and went to drive home. Moments later sirens screamed.
“My son was made to get out of the car, told to stand still for a body search. His friend, who said no, he hadn’t done anything, was thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
“Being close to our house, my son’s girlfriend was let go and told they were being taken in for questioning regarding the incident.
“My son’s girlfriend believed they were going to be witnesses over the gang of thugs hanging around causing damage and picking on the local young people. We thought nothing other than that it was questioning.
“They were processed and fingerprinted, my stupid son was talked into giving DNA.
“The police station got very busy and they were both put in a cell until the police had time for them. Then, they were told they were going to be charged and that it would be best if they pleaded guilty.
“The police charged my son’s friend with a dangerous weapon offence, and my son with having a dangerous weapon in his car.
“They were both given diversion, and had to pay $600 each.
“What happened to the thugs?
“Probably moved on to some other innocent young people or continued to graffiti the place while claiming the dole each week. “The system is wrong. “My son cannot believe what happened.
It becomes very hard to tell your children to respect police when they use tactics like this. My husband and I are disgusted.”
Are you? Ask your MP, or whoever wants their job, how they feel about what this letter tells us about life in our suburbs, public anger at the way hoons ruin voters’ lives, concern about police staffing, policy and priorities.
Ask them about the real issues, not the campaign charade. Tape their reply to play back this time next year. Tell them: “Get real. Cut out the circus and the comedy and look at the things that really matter.”
It’s not too much to ask.
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