Another fine mess by Susan Grimsdell
Does the resignation of the Leader of the NZ Opposition, Todd Muller, send a signal that the public has a standard of decency, one that he failed to meet? National Party MPs have behaved despicably in recent times. They took personal confidential information about Covid people in quarantine and sent it to the media. They did this in the hope of discrediting the Labour Party at the expense of the privacy of New Zealand citizens. Dirty politics is what it’s called. I’m happy to say that it didn’t go down well.
Economical with the truth
Interviews with all concerned – MPs and Muller – were entertaining if nothing else, as we watched them wriggle and squirm, lying through their collective teeth. Entertaining, but also contemptible. In one interview, conducted a day after Muller had been told that his health spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, was one of the recipients of the personal information, Muller was asked in six different ways whether he knew that Woodhouse had the information. And in six different ways Muller carried out verbal gymnastics to avoid telling the truth. It was quite impressive – a master class in lying and evasion.
He could have chosen to speak the truth right away. When asked if he knew Woodhouse had the details, a very simple answer would have been “Yes”. But that’s not who Muller is. His main and only concern was not “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, it was “me, me, me”. His assessment was that telling the truth would put him in a bad light. So – truth or personal reputation? No contest – it was clear that telling the simple truth never even entered his head.
Throwing in the towel
Today we learned that his solution to subsequently finding himself in a sticky mess was to walk away and wash his hands of it. This sounds a lot like more “me, me, me”. Could anything be worse for a party than to lose its leader a few weeks out from an election. I can suggest better options for Muller, the first one being to come clean and apologise for misleading the public. People can often be very forgiving when they hear genuine contrition. Again, I doubt if that solution entered Muller’s head.
Now that Muller has resigned, the comment we hear from all and sundry is that he was “a nice guy”. I haven’t heard one person saying anything to the effect that he was too devious, too much of a liar, to go over well with the public. I don’t consider it “nice” to deliberately mislead the public. I consider it to be cowardly and self-serving.
The best policy
I think the power of our Prime Minister is that she is truthful. She can be naive; she can on occasion make poor decisions, but we get a sense of honesty in everything she says. This, in my view, is her true power and why she has gained worldwide praise and admiration.
It seems to me that these political events speak to a general feeling on the part of the public of distaste for deviousness and of respect for decency and honesty. If I’m right about this, there’s hope for us all yet!
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