Have MPs got is­sues taped?

Central Leader - - News -

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.

Email off­pat@snl.co.nz. All replies open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less marked oth­er­wise.

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