As a politician there is nothing to feel good about as I read Nicky Hagers book. Dirty politics, dirty behaviour and dirt flying in all directions has been an excuse for some to push out the line that “this is just politics” “it’s a dirty business”.
I utterly reject that this in any way normal behaviour for politicians. The web of bullying, manipulation, character assassination and hatred has horrified most of NewZealand, and if it hasn’t, it should! This style of politics has no place here and simply reinforces the gladiatorial style of politics that turns decent people off and holds back good people from participating or putting themselves forward as candidates.
I have been a politician for 23 years, working with other politicians across the political spectrum. Most of these are good people motivated by the desire to do the best for their communities and to build a better future BUT as Nickys’ book points out, the “dirt merchants” have even reached into Auckland council to try and pull strings and manipulate election results.
As deputy mayor I make no apologies for working across the political spectrum to achieve great outcomes for Auckland, this has been a new way of working for some elected members but it is delivering some great results. Winning at all costs is not the way to conduct democracy, ideology alone is no replacement for decent politics and respect for different viewpoints is really important. Democracy deals out some challenging results and of course there are some people I find challenging to work with, but is that a reason to destroy lives, to create dirt files and to delve into personal issues? Absolutely not!
With the election just around the corner I am grateful to Nicky Hager for daylighting the grubby reality of “Dirty Politics”. We can now cast a more informed if somewhat cynical eye over the comments on blog sites, question the connections between politicians and their paying clients and challenge the media to look further than their coterie of informants.
Democracy cannot be the victim here, lets reclaim decent politics and vote for those who commit to having no part in continuing this depressing chapter in New Zealand’s political history.