The Labour Party election campaign is in a mess after one candidate reportedly made an anti-Semitic jibe shortly after another candidate sent a bizarre email telling a political journalist to "grow a pair".
David Cunliffe has dissociated himself from his Rangitata candidate Steve Gibson, who again appeared to label National MPs and operatives "shylocks", and referred to the National Party as "a bunch of dicks" and "jerks" in a recent outburst peppered with extravagant and crude language.
In a shambles vaguely reminiscent of the Judith Collins "last, last chance" fiasco, Gibson's leader David Cunliffe has so far failed to clearly denounce the wayward politician despite issuing him with a "final warning" only last month.
Cunliffe said Gibson could not removed as a candidate. Asked if Rangitata residents should vote for Gibson, Cunliffe only said: "We are campaigning hard for the party vote....People will make up their own mind."
Cunliffe added: "We are campaigning for the party vote in that seat and I don't expect that he is going to be a Member of Parliament."
Previously, Gibson called Prime Minister John Key "Shylock" and a "nasty little creep."
In fresh comments, Gibson said National looked like "a bunch of dicks" for proposing certain education policies against the advice of unionised teachers, the Timaru Herald reported.
The same newspaper said Gibson called National "a bunch of jerks" for comparing rural water pollution caused by dairy farms to Christchurch's urban water pollution. Gibson also said he would not take anonymous questions at political meetings from "obsequious, sycophantic scumbags" because he believed his National opponent Jo Goodhew could be writing those questions.
Referring to the Dirty Politics revelations, Gibson reportedly said he was concerned about "degradation of the public's confidence in the democratic process by Judith Collins, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede and other rotten Shylocks."
Shylock was a Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice who demanded a pound of Antonio's flesh if Antonio did not repay on time. In popular culture he is often viewed simply as a greedy villain.
"He belongs, inescapably, to the history of anti-Semitism," an essay in the New York Times stated. "Jesus has been the model for goodness, although not because of his Jewishness, while Shylock has been the model for wickedness, precisely because he is a Jew," the Harvard Theological Review stated.
Meanwhile, Selwyn candidate Gordon Dickson has failed to return calls asking him to explain why he told a RadioLive journalist to "grow a pair" in a meandering, at times incoherent email the station has published online.
Dickson took exception to RadioLive reporter Lloyd Burr after an apparently bizarre recent encounter. Burr said Dickson "ordered" him to interview him, before leaving a cryptic message about Minister of Police Anne Tolley.
Two days later, Dickson sent an email which began: "Dear Lazy" and signed off "Have a nice weekend and grow a pair."
Social media commentators said Dickson's rant had echoes of notorious missives former North Shore mayor and MP Andrew Williams fired at his enemies.
In 2009, Williams sent late-night abusive texts to the Prime Minister John Key and left an aggressive message on Christchurch mayor Bob Parker's phone, complaining about the city's nightlife and "third world" restaurant scene.
The Herald on Sunday wanted to know what advice Williams might have for Dickson - but somebody else answered his mobile phone this morning. She said Williams wasn't around, she couldn't take messages and the MP didn't want to talk to any newspapers anyway.
Labour Party campaign manger Annette King did not return a message seeking comment but Cunliffe defended his party's talent pool when asked about Dickson. He said he did not think Labour fielded too many electoral candidates and run short of talent as a result.
"I think we've got a great list and a great party and I've got total confidence in the president and her ability to handle those matters."
-Additional reporting Audrey Young