Dr Liz Gordon: Testing times

Nationals next candidate

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:

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

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.


  1. The problem is, most politicians are pathological liars, so they will just lie through your test like everything else they do.

    • I could name all the National Party members that fit each one of these scenarios. It is not that the Labour Party (which I do not support) MPs haven’t done appalling things, just fewer I think. Well fewer that have come into the public arena.

      Great stuff Liz. Men behaving badly!

  2. Michal totally agree.
    Select any large group of people not matter their political affiliation and they would fit the bill.

  3. This list suggests that the Nats HAVE been doing psychometric testing to select the candidates who best suit their shonky values. Time to move on from the 1950’s small town hoons and dopey altar boys.

  4. Apols in advance @ Dr LG.
    Unless one were a spy with a mandate to undo the natzo’s from within, one would first need to be all of the above once your humanist bits were edited out.
    The national party ( And by extension the disease most of us now know of as neoliberalism. ) is simply comprised of fucking awful people. And not just the ‘males’ either in defence of accuracy.
    But lets be honest, I suppose. We’re ALL capable of breaches in our humanity. We are, after all, only human.
    But Jesus! Them natzo’s have cornered the market in sociopathic narcissism alright and their consistency is impressive. They’re all consistently loathsome.
    I’ve become increasingly aware of an anomaly in the concept of democracy, baring in mind I know fuck all. Right? Lets get this out in the open. What I’ve come to observe may be nothing new to most of the rest of you but it’s a revelation to me. Here goes.
    ‘Democracy’ is bi-segmented. When paired with a bonding agent, democracy becomes one of two things.
    Bonding agent 1. Capitalism. When democracy is bonded with capitalism the new element that rises out of that is polite fascism. And, in some cases not so polite fascism. Capitalists, in the interests of self service with a “Fuck-you-mate, you’re a loser!” mentality will bend the rules to devour anyone in their way of making hallowed profits. Mike hoskings and jonky’s bestie was observed by a colleague to be wandering about in TVNZ’s studios mumbling “Greed is Good” is an example of what I mean.
    Capitalist democracy works very profitably for one or two at the expense of we the many. No wonder then that voting isn’t mandatory.
    Bonding agent 2. Socialism. I must say that I’m not big on the -isms. Socialism by itself is clearly unworkable. Mainly because sooner or later the individuals who’d be more at home in capitalism are heading to the top of a pile of trouble.
    But when socialism is added to democracy a whole new thing starts fizzing in the beaker. Post colonial AO/NZ was born of it. And it worked a treat. Public infrastructure was flying along. Agriculture, state housing, public health, education, transport, technical innovation and the sciences and creatively we were awesome too. Music, art, film, literature…
    Democracy once bonded to socialism was a good and unstoppable force. Or at least it was.
    First? They came for our farmers. Then, they came for us once they could assure themselves they would always have farmer money, swindled off farmers after the farm gate. Then they came after our state owned and all paid for infrastructure and tore it to pieces for the tasty publicly earned financial flesh inside. The awful natzo-fascist neoliberal’s tore our country to pieces and left our AO/NZ in ruin in their wake.
    So? Socialist democracy or capitalist democracy? Take a close look and see what’s worked best for all of us?
    Homelessness and hungry wee kids heading off to schools that’ll be no use to them in their addictions and poverty while Wellington has a median house price of one million dollars which is simply a logical fallacy madness.
    What gives me nightmares and day-anxiety is that I can’t see change coming. I desperately try to look into Jacinda Aderns eyes to see a glimmer of hope but I see nothing.
    When I look into judith collin’s eyes I see a power hungry, money fetishist demon with a gleeful predisposition to cruelty.
    AO/NZ? We’re in serious fucking trouble.
    Farmers? Are you there? Hello? You’ll laugh at this. No. Seriously, you will.
    Only you can save us. You must seek to comfort yourselves by cosseting your money printing machine for others selves up to the strength-in-numbers urban unions then you must all strike to starve the parasitic natzo’s and their hangers on off your backs.
    And if you think I’m wrong? You don’t read much and you don’t get out at all.

    • We need better definitions of socialism and capitalism CB. The values party way back were pretty socialist. They had a policy of nationalising ownership of all farm land. Would that work for you? I must say it appeals more than Chinese or corporate ownership; and then it would depend on the independence of the farmer within the framework of whatever tenure arrangement was in place in place of ownership. But fundamentally I assume you would not be able to pass occupation on to your kids , or decide what crops or breed of stock you were going to run. We would all be surfs to the government as far as I can see , with little or no control of our lives or aspirations.
      I don’t think that this degree of “social” organisation would ever be consistent with “Democracy” as no population would ever vote for it. So I think we are stuck with capitalism in some form. Just not where capitalism is the government and the elected representatives operate within the boundaries that capitalists allow.
      Ultimately capitalism to my mind must be defined as freedom to chose a lifestyle , to start a profit earning enterprise as a way of earning a living, within a framework of laws and regulations that limit monopolies and money is a means of exchange managed and issued by the state. Not for profit.
      I’m pretty sure that capitalism in some form is human nature , and socialism as exemplified by Soviet Russia and Maoist china 60 years ago could never exist in a democracy. There isn’t a choice between socialism and capitalism. Both need to be part of the same system. It’s a matter of balance .
      Cheers D J S

  5. LOL! 😀
    Brilliant Liz, brilliant!
    Yes I do remember you on the hustings in ChCh for the Alliance. I actually voted for you. I also have a vague memory of the National candidate of whom you spoke but at my age proper nouns are especially elusive; can’t remember his name.
    Glad you’re still as sharp as you ever were!

  6. Question 6 answer d. The last people I would call on for solace would be the exclusive brethren, the reason could be, in my opinion, that they were the cause of the break up.

  7. Mike Sabin, anyone?
    And it’s not just the MPs or aspiring MPs. It’s also the hangers-on, the coat-tailers. Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics” is full of them. Jason Ede? Still in hiding. Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham, Matthew Hooten, Simon Lusk etc etc etc


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.