John Armstrong: Why did Clark drop her bombshell today?

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Another day, another bombshell. The Owen Glenn donation saga just keeps getting worse and worse for the Prime Minister.

Her gobsmacking admission today that Glenn had told her earlier this year that he had given $100,000 to New Zealand First drags her right into centre-stage of this debilitating mess when she has preferred to sit in the wings from where she would ultimately pass judgment on Winston Peters.

The big question is why she has revealed this information now and not earlier. She has had ample opportunity previously to do so.

Her answer is that she has been consistently assured by Peters that Glenn was mistaken. She had to accept Peters' word.

Helen Clark certainly faced an invidious choice. Had she made this information public, it would have embarrassed Peters, possibly forcing his sacking and thereby destabilising and potentially endangering her minority Government.

She will thus be accused of withholding the information in order to both protect Peters and protect her administration.

Her critics will say that as prime minister, she had a responsibility to rise above expedient politics.

They will argue that her awareness of the discrepancies between what Glenn and Peters were saying was a compelling reason for temporarily suspending Peters from his ministerial portfolios while some kind of inquiry was conducted to find out who is telling the truth.

The reason that she has publicly revealed Glenn's version of events to her may be because she is worried Glenn might reveal his conversation with her if it turns out he is called to give further evidence to the privileges committee's hearing on the contempt charge against Peters.

The political bottom-line is that she will be accused by National of a cover-up, not least because what Glenn told her is highly germane to the committee's investigation.


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