If only political parties didn’t have candidates…

Politics can attract some mightily strange individuals.

Every party has a collection of members with bizarre pet policies, who believe that if they just hang around long enough, they’ll get a good enough list position to float on in to Parliament and unleash their agenda upon an unsuspecting populace.

For some, it’s not even necessarily an outlandish policy platform that drives them. They just want the fame and power. They’re the Aaron Gilmore’s of the political world; those who just can’t wait to lord it over the rest of us. From the “Born to Rule Tories” of the Right, to the “Life-long Union Hacks” of the Left, both sides have them. And both major parties are united in their collection of political staffers, who believe that after years of loyal party service, they’re entitled to their Parliamentary meal ticket.

For others, it’s all about the notoriety. It’s the fifteen minutes of fame that counts. Hey, everyone wants to be noticed, to be able to say, “I was adored once too…”

The problem for any political party is that these people can occasionally be adept at keeping the crazy hidden. Or they’ll put up their hand to campaign in the unwinnable seat, when no one else wants to die in that particular ditch, and the vetting process is a cursory once-over. Then suddenly they’re part of the public face of the party. And one day, in the middle of the campaign, the party leader is having to distance him or herself when said candidate has spouted something monumentally stupid/racist/inflammatory/insane/all of the above.

That’s currently Labour’s nightmare, with two of their candidates going rogue. One of them, Steve Gibson, has already featured in this blog. Back then, it had emerged that he’d written on Facebook:

“there is the REAL face of Shonky Jonkey Shylock…nasty little creep with a nasty evil and vindictive sneer…”

When he apologised, he stated that he hadn’t been knowingly anti-Semitic; without knowing the etymology of Shylock, he’d simply been repeating an insult he’d heard from others.

The problem is that he’s at it again. According to the Timaru Herald, Mr Gibson 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.” This time, he can hardly say he didn’t know that “Shylock” is a pejorative anti-Semitic term; not really the sort of language you want to attack the National Party with when the party leader is of Jewish heritage.

That wasn’t all though. As the NZ Herald reports:

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.

Evidently, a charming individual is our Mr Steve Gibson. And certainly not one to learn from his mistakes.

Labour’s second rogue candidate is also from down south. The party’s Selwyn candidate, Gordon Dickson, has achieved notoriety for a largely incomprehensible email to RadioLive reporter Lloyd Burr. (A link to the email is here. It’s well worth reading, simply for the terrible grammar and general WTF factor…) In it, Mr Dickson addresses Mr Burr as “Dear Lazy”, before making some form of veiled insinuation about Police Minister Anne Tolley, accusing Burr of dereliction of his journalistic duty, and telling Burr to “Have a nice weekend and grow a pair”.

According to Lloyd Burr, Mr Dickson had previously demanded that Burr interview him, and directed Burr  to ask John Key if he has faith in Anne Tolley, without giving any indication why such a question should be asked. Apparently the media exists to be at Mr Dickson’s beck and call, and is “Lazy” if they fail to comply with his every whim…

It’s not just Labour though. The Conservative Party’s Steve Taylor, standing in New Lynn, has his share of bizarre press releases, and was outed last month as having taken pictures of a Family Court lawyer’s children from her Facebook page and published them on his anti-Family Court website in some form of stalkerish attempt to intimidate her.

Unfortunately, both David Cunliffe and Colin Craig seem fine with their respective candidates’ actions. Cunliffe merely states that Labour’s seeking the party vote in those electorates, while Craig evidently sees nothing wrong with his candidate’s online harassment campaign.

At least the odds of Gibson, Dickson and/or Taylor getting elected are minuscule. Thank heavens for small mercies.

UPDATE (08/09/14):

Tracy Watkins reports this morning that David Cunliffe has said he would sack Steve Gibson if he could, and that Gibson has “no future” in the Labour Party. Of course, nomination date has well and truly passed, meaning that Gibson can’t be removed from the ballot or Labour’s list. Which begs the question why didn’t Cunliffe remove Gibson when he had the chance, when the initial Shylock comment surfaced?

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