Dr Liz Gordon: The very odd case of Clayton Mitchell MP


The other day I heard a passing mention on my car radio to some MP promoting legislation to ensure that immigrants upheld kiwi values.  Good old NZ First as its worst, I thought. I listened on and heard that one of those values was a commitment not to campaign against the legality of alcohol. I nearly drove my car off the road.  I then decided that I must have misheard or misunderstood and put it out of my mind.

But no, it re-appeared like a bad dream in the pages of the Press.  Clayton Mitchell is a second-term MP (I had never heard of him) who wants to legislate a code of conduct for migrants. It does indeed include the alcohol clause, among others.

He spoke about this at the NZ First conference where one delegate was quoted as saying: “We will not put up with nonsense like what has happened overseas, people coming in and creating a lot of trouble.”

It turns out that Clayton has a particular relationship with alcohol, having run a bar for a number of years until his licence was taken away due to breaches of alcohol law, not to mention convictions for assault with intent to injure and dangerous driving.

Thus it is that a bloke with thoroughly bad values becomes the poster boy for migrant values in Parliament. In case you’re wondering, I’m laughing so hard I might have to dash to the loo. Why is it always the dodgy bods that get hung up on such things?

I was wondering whether he would pass a test of good kiwi values himself, and wondered what they were. Shooting furry animals, perhaps? Ugh. Then I was browsing the internet for more information and I came across Andrea Vance noting that she had received communications from both David Garrett and Aaron Gilmore, President and Secretary respectively of the ‘Boys have the right to behave badly’ pressure group.

To my younger readers, you may not know these names.  Garrett has ensconced himself in Tonga in a self-imposed exile after having resigned from Parliament.  He was exposed for having stolen an identity from a dead child and getting a passport in the child’s name.  He admitted that he used a method made known in the novel The Day of the Jackal. I did not make this up.

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Indeed, you couldn’t make this stuff up.  Garrett wrote the following to Andrea Vance from his bastion in Tonga: “I read your nasty little tabloid story about Mr Mitchell’s past… surely you could have interwoven some vindictive reference to the past of other politicians “such as disgraced former ACT MP David Garrett” into the story?

So David Garrett is complaining that he has not been made part of the story?  Good grief.

Aaron Gilmore also stumbled in his political career.  In his case, he asked a waiter in a restaurant “don’t you know who I am?” and threatened that John Key would lose the waitperson his job.   In a largely incoherent comment to Ms Vance on the Mitchell affair, he noted:

“Despite the fact that Australia nor America will allow you in their country with these [convictions].  But hey if you are a Nat just don’t ever call a barman a dickhead as the media will hound you, but at least I can visit New York till and have never been charged let alone convicted of anything.  This Muppet with 3 criminal convictions is not fit for public office”. Etc. Good on you, boyo.

In short, the bad boys of the past want to re-live their stories and tell how hard done by they were, compared to this real criminal. Is everyone who ever left Parliament under a cloud seeking vindication?  Gosh, the list is long.

It is perhaps not surprising that Mitchell requires new citizens to be supporters of alcohol outlets.  With politicians like these, we all may need a little snifter now and again.


Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).


  1. And we $hould remember, a$ we pa$$ those wretched homele$$ people living rough of a winter$ evening, that, that mitchell fuck i$ being paid a $ix Figure $allary plu$ entitlement$ coming, in part, from the G$T they, the homele$$, must pay for whatever gruel’$ on $ale price.

  2. Good old Kiwi ‘values’ like rugby, racing and beer, I presume. Throw in a few sausages and chops on the barbeque and let the girls drink some wine, dressed ‘well’ to appeal to the blokes (no head-scarfs) and the set of values seems complete.

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