One good thing has come out of the Mallard affair – a reminder why the “rules” matter about leaving personal lives and families out of bounds for parliamentary taunting.
Think about how this would have played out, if Trevor Mallard had never publicly taunted Don Brash about Diane Foreman? First of all, I doubt Tau Henare would ever have yelled out “Shut up Sharon” to Mallard in the first place. But, even if he had, look at how differently it could have been handled.
Mallard could have potentially even won sympathy (like John Prescott) if he had got up and said something like “Look it was awful of me to punch him, and I should never have done it, but you know when they go after your family, when they pick on your girlfriend who can’t even defend herself, well something inside me just snapped and I lashed out because I was just so enraged that he had brought my family into this”.
I think a fair proportion of New Zealanders, maybe even a majority, would be on Mallard’s side if that had happened.
But why didn’t Mallard put that up as a defence? Because he couldn’t. Because he had broken the “rules” himself and to then complain about it would make him a first class hypocrite.
And this is the real moral of the story. The “rules” do matter. They have existed for near time immemorial for a reason. When you break the convention to get at an MP you despise (as Mallard did to get to Brash) you might think it is an isolated incident, but as we have seen it does have repercussions. It is exactly because we elect MPs who are human, not saints, that you have the convention around families and affairs.No tag for this post.