Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Another crisis, another Key bumble

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Aaron Gilmore's blunder hijacked National's media time. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Gilmore's blunder hijacked National's media time. Photo / Getty Images

By the law of averages, in any representative democracy a few narcissists will be elected.

In the parliamentary world, the laziest ignoramus can get paid three times the average wage - and be fawned over - for no other reason than a few party faithful, whether on a list selection committee or a safe party electorate committee, make a silly call.

Even in our cesspool of mediocrity and vanity, Aaron Gilmore's arrogance is pathetic on so many levels.

"Do you know who I am?" - if he said it at Hanmer Springs as claimed - must be the most revealing exposure of a wannabe. What sort of loser clicks their fingers and whistles at a waiter?

Then there's this paper's report of his tactics against his renters, threatening that unless they vacated he'd tell other property owners they were bad tenants. So ugly.

When I worked around Parliament, MPs came in two broad categories. There were those who were self-deluded with a high sense of entitlement, believing the people were so lucky to have them. Then there were those who knew it was a privilege to be an MP and to serve their fellow citizens.

Every party had its mix of both. Fortunately, most of the first group were sussed by their colleagues early on and never made it to the Cabinet where they could do any lasting damage.

But as we have seen this week, even the lowest-ranked MP can derail a government. When John Key wanted the attention to be on the power shares and the good news that unemployment had dropped, this doofus was taking up all his government's media air space.

This is supposed to be the week that Cabinet ministers get to hold their pre-Budget press conferences to announce, or at least hint, at the successes they will be getting in the financial handout stakes. Fat chance now.

Why is Key so inept in managing crises?

The Prime Minister's own experience, in which his story over the appointment of his mate to head the GCSB spy agency changed several times, kept an embarrassing story alive longer than it should have survived. Surely he should have had a management strategy to deal with a mess-up like Gilmore's in his top drawer under the "lessons learned" file.

You'd think that with having John Banks in the dock this week, Key would be particularly sensitive about another scandal.

What's so difficult in getting a media statement from Gilmore saying, "I got trolleyed and was a prat. I'm sorry for embarrassing the hotel staff, other restaurant customers and my table guests, my family and my fellow MPs. I can't remember the details as I was intoxicated. I have asked the Prime Minister for a fortnight's leave when I will return to Parliament. I have no further comment"?

Story over. Instead we get reminded again that another Government MP appears to have fudged the truth when in a corner.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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