One of my earliest (if rather hazy) recollections is either the 1993 or 1996 election, when I stood as an Alliance candidate. The National candidate was a bloke who kept banging on about family values. About halfway through the hustings, he was exposed (by the mother of the young woman he was sleeping with) as being very far from a family values bloke. I wish I could remember his name… Anyone remember?
Anyway, in recent times having a bit of a sex scandal, or racism, or anger and indeed who can forget Gerry’s bouncer behaviour, has become mandatory in the National Party. They seem to have an endless supply of well-groomed young men with big ideas about themselves becoming candidates and often even making it through the hallowed halls, only to be brought down by their own failings. It is quite Shakespearean. Instead of the Merry Wives on Windsor, the Lusty Boys of Welly.
Liam Hehir has suggested that aspiring candidates for the National Party should be subject to some kind of psychometric testing. Well, the psychologist in me (not really, just a BA thirty-mumble years ago) rose to the challenge. In the old days, testing revolved around measures of intelligence and, to a lesser extent, personality. To that, nowadays, are measures of so-called emotional intelligence, which might be more important than both other kinds. It is about thinking with your head, not your lower bits.
The events below all relate to a particular episode, which you may not recognise. Here is a guide. In order: Aaron Gilmore; Todd Barclay; Hamish Walker; Jami-Lee Ross; various (2); Don Brash; John Key; Andrew Falloon; Jake Bezzant and Nick Smith.
So I have devised a test for the modern, male, National Party candidate. Just ten questions are all you need to test a person’s ability to be an MP. In the interests of trying to stop the rot (which is very rotten rot), I will donate this for free:
1 – If you have too much to drink in a restaurant, and the waiter refuses to serve you more, do you say:
a) Don’t you know who I am?
b) I’ll give you $50 to serve me.
c) I won’t pay the bill, fair warning.
d) Yes I’ve had a bit to drink, let’s call it a night.
2 – If you are having employment issues with your electorate staff member, do you…
a) Demand that they leave immediately?
b) Try and gain evidence against them by recording their phone calls?
c) Engage them sensibly and in good faith about the issues?
d) Whine to your friends that you can’t get good help nowadays.
3 – You are leaked personal issues about Covid 19 cases from a senior National Party member. Do you:
a)Send them back noting that you do not think it is proper to leak such details?
b) Do nothing?
c) Whip out an incendiary press release claiming people from Korea, India and Pakistan will be descending on your town in droves?
d) Resign from the Party in disgust?
4 – You have a falling out with the National Party leader, once a dear friend. Do you:
a) Record conversations with him on the phone then release them to Facebook?
b) Announce that he is a corrupt politician, then repeat often?
c) Both of the above, then team up with a conspiracy theorist for the next election?
d) Give up politics and form a company to sell shonky nutritional supplements.
This is a trick question, there are no right answers.
5 – You find yourself accused of sexual abuse against a partner, a colleague or indeed anything that moves. Do you:
a) Say it’s all her fault for being an awful person.
b) Apologise and promise to do better.
c) Say I didn’t realise the microphone was live.
d) Say you are a red-blooded male with needs too.
6 – Your second marriage has fallen apart because of your very public affair with a high profile woman. You:
a) Say that men have an “extremely powerful biological urge to have sex”.
b) Apologise profusely to all concerned.
c) Start living on corned beef and peas again.
d) Call your friends the exclusive brethren for solace.
7 – You have fallen in love with the ponytail of a serving person at a café you frequent. You are irresistibly drawn to her lovely dangly, shiny hair. It gets in the media. You:
a) Say that she wouldn’t have put it up unless she wanted it pulled.
b) Apologise and then pull it again.
c) Say “Bronagh did it”.
d) Apologise, bring a gift of wine and flash a nice smile.
8 – You send dick-pics (not your own) to a young woman and she reports you to the police. They (thankfully) do not prosecute. You:
a) Plead mental health issues and note a number of your friends committed suicide.
b) Say that you thought she would be pleased with your good-looking tackle.
c) Apologise profusely for your lack of even the basic rules of conduct.
d) Offer to send copies of the pics to female reporters.
9 – You have a habit of taking on the persona of your former girlfriend and using nude images and videos of her to have online sex with others. You are a shining upcoming light of the National Party until this becomes public. You:
a) Slink away into the night, resigning from the National Party.
b) Go online and play sex games.
c) Say “there is no truth to the allegations”.
d) Stand up and say “I ama sexual abuser, I went too far, I will make this right”.
10 – You have been an MP for over thirty years. Your career is littered with the corpses of previous employment disputes. They say, you say:
a) Ah bless him, he was very young when he started! /I was so young
b) He was very focused on his work. / They were for me or against me.
c) He stood alone and friendless. / I didn’t come here to be nice
d) All of the above and more.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.