Felix Marwick: Astounding levels of idiocy in Tapegate scandal

Author
Felix Marwick,
Publish Date
Mon, 26 Jun 2017, 5:43AM
First off, the set-to between Todd Barclay and Glenys Dickson never should have escalated to the degree that it did. (Photo \ Supplied)
First off, the set-to between Todd Barclay and Glenys Dickson never should have escalated to the degree that it did. (Photo \ Supplied)

Felix Marwick: Astounding levels of idiocy in Tapegate scandal

Author
Felix Marwick,
Publish Date
Mon, 26 Jun 2017, 5:43AM

OPINION

If there's anything that should strike you about the Todd Barclay scandal, it's the utter banality and stupidity of the whole affair.

It is, in essence, a series of events that should never have happened if a small amount of common sense had been applied. The mess we've seen in the last week is the perfect example of what happens when politicians put politicking and self interest ahead of honesty and integrity. There's simply no other explanation for the astounding level of idiocy that's been on display from all involved.

First off, the set-to between Todd Barclay and Glenys Dickson never should have escalated to the degree that it did. There are clear provisions in contracts between MPs and their staff that cater for these situations. When an irreconcilable difference arises, when trust is lost, and relationships go sour, MPs have the ability to remove that person from their office. For some incomprehensible reason this never occurred at an early stage.

Secondly, junior MPs (of which Barclay is definitely one) are supposed to be guided and supported by their older and more experienced colleagues. Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has been clear that the National Party has such a system. That leaves only two conclusions: either they don't work, or Barclay ignored advice he was given.

Thirdly, in what universe is the decision to secretly record a member of their staff ever going to end well? You don't have to be a neurosurgeon to work out the answer to that one. To even contemplate such a course of action displays an almost wilful level of ignorance and removal from reality.

But once the deed was (allegedly) done, the response of the National Party and its now leader was even worse. Instead of dealing with the problem, they tried to use politics to make it go away. The re-selection challenge in Clutha-Southland should be seen for what it was - an attempt to remove Todd Barclay from the picture so as to make him and his problems go away.

When that gambit failed, the party made a rod for its own back as it gave extra impetus to Glenys Dickson to push her case further. And when extra details were revealed it blew the whole gory spectacle wide open. The delay in their reveal makes the earlier actions to sweep the issue under the carpet look even worse.

As a result we've see the Prime Minister make a series of changing, and at times conflicting, statements on what he knew, and when, about the matter. In short his credibility, and that of the government he leads, has been severely tested.

The strongest currency any politician can ever have is the truth. They debase it at their peril.