Friday, July 27, 2007

Observations on Benson-Pope's resignation

So David Benson-Pope has resigned after misleading the public and (more importantly) Helen Clark about his involvement in the dismissal of a public servant. His behaviour isn't all that surprising to anybody who has followed politics, what's startling is he did the same things that had got him into trouble previously.
1) Rather than own up to unsavory conduct, he makes false denials. Previously he had denied allegations of student abuse and complaints about his teaching conduct. Now he has denied ever influencing the CEO of the Environment Ministry.

2) He hides behind somebody who worked for him. Previously with his knowledge, his press secretary leaked a misleading version of a police report with the comment that it exonerated him. Now his senior adviser makes five phone calls again with his knowledge to the Environment Ministry CEO.

3) He does not co-operate with his cabinet colleagues. Previously his media strategy for defending himself was handled by his own office acting on his directions. Only when this effort had degenerated into a shambles did the Prime Ministers office intervene and force him to adopt a more effective media strategy. Now he simply fails to inform Helen Clark about what he has said or done at the very moment when full disclosure might have saved him.
It's almost as if there were some baleful influence on his life, an evil influence that compels him do bad things that he knows are wrong. Like a dominatrix or something...

Will he ever return to cabinet? There is the example of Lianne Dalziel who leaked documents and then lied about it. However Lianne only lied publicly once and not to Helen Clark. David on the other hand has a history. Given that one of the denials was made in the house, a resignation as MP looks possible. He could argue his way out of his predicament but he's by himself now and he simply isn't very good at spinning.

That said, some statements in the papers caught my attention. In the Press this morning:
Clark warned on Monday that she was unhappy with Benson-Pope's handling of the issue and was watching his words closely.
How many times did he twitch?

An earlier version of this story had the following comment:
It is understood both Miss Clark and Mr Benson-Pope spent the morning consulting with caucus colleagues, finding the most painless exit route.
Would that be because he would have enjoyed more painful routes of exit?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Live-blogging reading the last Harry Potter

Page 1: Harry's Alive!

Page 2: He's still alive!

Page 3: Phew! He looked a goner there but Harry's still alive!