Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The politics of personal destruction again

"Mike Moore is a former Labour Prime Minister" was the byline on his opinion-piece in the Herald this morning. Having read it, the Herald should have added another bit: "who still hasn't gotten over being rolled by Helen Clark in 1993". While ostensibly criticising a return to Muldoonism and the politics of personal destruction, Moore immediately descends to them himself, and in a very nasty way. I mean, what exactly is this supposed to mean?

Exactly what does the "consort" Judith Tizard and the legion of Ministers outside Cabinet actually do?

Naturally, DPF is fawning over it.

As for the broader issue, the government has at least avoided attacking Key's personal life (something I take a very dim view of). But as with National's attack on David Parker, they've gone too far. As I said then, it's one thing to call people to account for malfeasance or incompetence in office, personal failings while actually in Parliament, or serious allegations which call into question their suitability to be a Minister or MP. It's quite another to dig up and inflate minor offences from long ago - or in this case, attempt to beat up things which aren't an offence at all. So John Key doesn't actually live in his electorate? Big deal - neither have dozens of other MPs over the years. It's perfectly legal, and his constituents seem quite comfortable with it. If this qualifies as "dirt", then its below even parking-tickets.

At the same time, the stench of rank hypocrisy from the right is overpowering. Where were their cries of anguish about the "politics of personal destruction" when they were going after David Parker, when their proxies were making allegations about people's partners and relationships, when Judith Collins was screaming "pervert" across the House at David Benson-Pope? (As much as I hate the guy, he didn't deserve that). But that was different because they were dishing it out rather than being on the receiving end. It would be nice if someone, anyone, over there showed just the slightest level of consistency and principle, rather than being merely a hypocritical partisan cheerleader.

And finally, despite the wailing from the right, it is and always has been perfectly legitimate to point out that a politician has been inconsistent in their views, has lied to the electorate about them, and adopts a deliberate strategy of telling people whatever he thinks they want to hear. This isn't about "personal destruction", its about whether a politician is being straight with the voters - and its something we in the electorate are entitled to expect.