Life Bill Ralston
Distracting though the beach is, there’s only so long you can shut up about the Ross affair.
Is it safe to come out yet? The political brouhaha of the past fortnight persuaded me it might be safer to leave our house and head for the wilds of Ocean Beach, where we have a bach. Actually, the house we have just left is also a bach, on another beach on the other side of Cape Kidnappers, which is kind of weird, I know.
Bach No 1 at Te Awanga is about to get a dramatic facelift. Well, it’s effectively being demolished and rebuilt and, out of respect for the builders, we thought it best not to be inside when it happened, hence we headed for bach No 2. Besides, summer seems to have made an early arrival.
Nope, it’s no use. I cannot babble on about the joys of Hawke’s Bay in good weather because I cannot ignore the Jami-Lee Ross issue, even though, since he was compulsorily admitted to a mental health unit, almost everyone seems to be of the opinion that commentators should ignore the affair. “Move on, nothing to see here.”
The Mental Health Foundation warned the likes of me against “weaponising Mr Ross’ distress against him”, which is a little harsh as
Ross seemed to weaponise his own distress against his former leader, party and colleagues and anyone else who poked their heads above the parapet during his very public meltdown.
Still, I will not become a weaponiser.
I may, however, be critical of the people behind the scenes who appear to have provided Ross with the arms, ammunition and tactics for his recent spray. Simon Lusk, I’m looking at you. Cameron Slater, aka Whale Oil, you are getting my suspicious side-eye as well. For anyone who does not know this pair of political hucksters, good. You are better off in a state of ignorance.
The National Party is attracting blame for putting too much pressure on Ross once he went public with his allegations against Simon Bridges. To be frank, he had put a blowtorch down Bridges’ Y-fronts with allegations of violating the Electoral Act’s political donations rules and it was only to be expected National would strike back, especially when Ross released a secret recording of his leader.
Also, shagging two of your female colleagues while still married to someone else, and apparently being complained about by others, is probably not the wisest course of action when you are portraying yourself as a crusading knight on a white horse and a whistle-blower.
The whole affair is most unsatisfactory. At the time of writing, we do not know what Ross had done to be “sectioned” by the police. We do not know what other recordings and material damaging to National he may have.
What is clear is that the furore will continue to damage National’s public support. Voters are prone to punishing parties that have internal strife. And no one will be surprised if, now as an independent MP,
Ross continues to attack his former party for kicking him while he was mentally unwell.
Meanwhile, the Government is keeping quiet on the matter. Apart from Jacinda Ardern, no ministers or MPs commented and the Prime Minister confined herself to remarking on the need for greater care for the mental health of MPs and a mild defence of the current political donation system.
Media attention is firmly focused on National’s troubles; the Ross ructions are the best gift Labour has received since it came to power 12 months ago.
To be frank, Ross had put a blowtorch down Bridges’ Y-fronts.
“I had that nightmare again last night. The one about the budgie smugglers.”