Past behaviour

As is obvious, I believe it is not just appropriate, but in fact expected, that the Opposition focus on the role of the PM in leaking information to the SST to force the Commissioner of Police to resign.

Characterising it as “the politics of personal destruction, as Jordan did, is nonsense. The fact that Clark’s actions have been condemned by almost every major editorial speaks volumes. This is an issue about how the Prime Minister used information in her role as PM. What could be more relevant?

The David Benson-Pope issue is less clear cut. The allegations relate not to anything he has done as an MP, but in his former occupation. As a general rule (but there are exceptions) I do not think it is relevant to traverse such allegations. The exceptions are illegal behaviour and hypocrisy.

I think almost everyone has a past. I know I do. For example I was a cub/scout/venturer leader for 15 years or so until 1995. Enjoyed it greatly and as far as I know no-one I had responsibility for has any issue with me, in fact to the contrary many of them are good friends today. But I can recall once or twice moving a disruptive 8 year old kid into a corner by judicious use of the vulcan death hold (ie holding their neck). And once one of the venturers pushed me down a 15 foot bank into a river (he was meaning to push me and grab me but forgot to grab me) and after bouncing off some rocks and landing in the river I was fairly (very) annoyed and promptly chased him down and dunked him myself. Nothing I regard as wrong, but stuff that could look bad out of context 20 years on. And shock horror even had drinks with some of the 16 and 17 year olds on occasion.

Anyway enough of my errant past, but onto the DBP issue. There appear to be a number (not just one) of ex pupils who say that DBP acted in ways which were outlined in the House. One of them has spoken on the Linda Clark show and Berend de Boer has the audio here. It is worth listening to. The gentleman concerned obviously is not at all a fan of DBP. Some may say that is because he was caned by him, but I got caned heaps and heaps at school, and do not hold any grudges against the teachers who did so.

Even if one accepts the allegations are true (and that is another issue) the question does remain whether the allegations are relevant to his role today.

Here it is a judgement call. The context is that DBP is not just a Minister, but the Minister in charge of schools. And he is launching an anti-bullying campaign. This is getting close to the hypocrisy area, if the allegations of bullying pupils are true. And the allegations of having caused one pupil to bleed from caning, and another from hitting his nose, are in fact allegations of illegal behaviour.

To some degree this is now somewhat academic, as DBP has denied all the allegations. Russell Brown points out this now turns into a matter of misleading Parliament, if the former pupils speak out.

I am still uneasy about whether it was a good idea to ask DBP in Parliament if the allegations were true. However one does wonder that if a group of ex-pupils have been pushing the allegations for five years, what must have happened to them to keep the grievance going for so long?

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