Attention! Instead of reading the following boring bitching about New Zealand politicians' sex scandals, you should really just read Tze Ming Mok's hysterical latest.
Sometimes when I'm bored on my Thursday evening shift, I write little lists of what I would prefer to be writing an LJ entry about. Sometimes I write the entry, sometimes I don't, but anyway. Tonight's list had just one item: I can't believe I'm writing about Don Brash again.
That's right, boys and girls of the foreign persuasion. Don "My wife is Chinese* so I can't be racist or anti-immigration", "If National loses the 2005 election I will resign," "I lose my debates with Helen Clark on purpose because it's not nice to be rude to women", "Helen knows my party's policy better than I do" Brash, unbeloved, fuddy-duddy, conservative, frankly bad politician Leader of the Opposition, is back in the news. (National did in fact lose the election, and he... did not step down. Hm.)
Unfortunately, I find myself in the position of supporting him. Excuse me while I go bleach my brain.
This is the thing: New Zealand has something of a tradition of keeping its nose out of the private lives of its politicians, and I generally think this is a really good thing. There are exceptions, times when a politician's private life is relevant (and, obviously, things like corruption and all over everywhere) but as a rule, the validity of what a politician is saying should be judged by what they're saying, not by the politician. This is, I believe, part of the reason the NZ parliament includes a rastafarian and an transsexual.
Now, Don Brash is well-known to have cheated on his first wife with the woman who would become his second - and current, Singaporean - wife. The irony of his conservative positions on marriage is not lost on anyone
, but it's not usually considered kosher to bring this up in debates. A few days ago it was leaked that Brash is having marital problems (he's taking a sabbatical, I believe, from which I suspect he will not be returning) and someone in Brash's own party
basically said in Parliament that he's been cheating again.
(If anyone not a Kiwi is still reading along, there's been a whole heap of shit-slinging in Parliament lately. First Philip Field is being accused of corruption (Tze Ming Mok's analysis of what he's supposed to have done is here
, if anyone has a better one gimme a shout), then the Labour party is being accused of breaking laws using the wrong money to pay for some pledge cards (no link because this is pretty cut-and-dried: it clearly wasn't an intentional mistake, I doubt it significantly affected election results, for fuck's sake, Helen, just pay back the money and everyone will call it quits.) THEN Labour basically threatened to loose the
dirt files. This is apparently the first taste of that although, as I said, the original volley came from within National.
Also, National has been trying to smear Labour for... some time, actually, and Labour has generally been fairly restrained about responding, so I guess it was time.)
Okay, that is a very longwinded lot of paragraphs for me to get around to saying: I don't like Don Brash. I think he's not a very good politician and on those occasions when he does manage to articulate opinion I invariably find myself in vehement disagreement (Orewa nearly gave me apoplexy); he certainly managed to revitalise failing National support but he did it in a way that really altered the shape of Parliament, to a shape I don't like (polarised, virtually two-party); and above all, I think that he should have done as he said he would and resigned after National lost the 2005 election. However! If you are going to question Brash's fitness to lead his party, there are a million and one good
reasons to do so, like he's a crappy speechmaker, a hopeless debater, he has no control over his party and backbenchers (which, well, sort of proved that), he frequently doesn't know his own policy, even just that he's hopelessly out of touch and old fashioned.But for god's sake, stay out of the man's bedroom.
Just as I believe the fact that Tim Barnett has sex with men should not be a factor in judging his fitness as a politician, I do not believe Brash's (condemnable, BTW) sexual misconducts should be brought into the limelight. It's not relevant and I want fairness to go both ways. (Although he does look pretty awful in light of the fact that his party is the one that bangs on (and on and on and on) about the sanctity of marriage.)
But if you do want to talk about it, Russell Brown discusses who he was doin' and why it was a problem.
Um, okay, that's more than enough time devoted to Don Brash's - eww - sex life. Let's talk about Bob Clarkson, shall we? Or, rather, let's let amarynth talk about
Bob "I had to be told to stop talking about my testicles in public" Clarkson's latest idiocies
, because he is smrt and put it very well.
No more politics for another six months, promise.*Singaporean, in fact