Well Dr Cullen went all macho today once again threatening to “dish dirt” on National MPs unless they are nicer in the House.
The ironic thing is that Labour of course dish dirt all the time. Cullen has several times said things in the House without a shred of proof such as Judith Collins’ expenses at the Casino Control Authority or false allegations against David Henderson.
But nevertheless it is probably useful for me to share my views on dishing dirt. The first thing is that not all dirt is equal. Politicians and media like to label anything which has an MP in the gun as dirt but there are several shades.
The true dirt is that of a purely personal private and non criminal nature which is merely designed to embarrass. This is stuff like an MP is having an affair or an MP visits prostitutes, gambles a lot or is secretly gay. Unless there is severe hypocrisy involved, then touching this stuff is a big no.
Then there are MP driven allegations against other MPs regarding actions taken prior to becoming an MP which would reflect badly on them today. This is when MPs themself make the accusations which may be based on leaked documents. An example is Tuku Morgan and his $89 underpants.
Then you have allegations about former conduct where others are the accusers and the MPs co-operate with them. This is the case with Benson-Pope. Hide and Collins were not the ones making the accusations – they came from many separate former students who mainly were just annoyed he was denying them all together.
Then you have accusations about current actions of an MP, but not directly related to them in their roles as an MP. An example is getting into fist fights, urinating in corridors, drink driving etc. The key between this and the first do not touch category is this category has something happen in public where one or more members of the public witness it and are aggrieved – or the law has been broken.
Finally you have accusations about their conduct as an MP. The classic example is Philip Field using constituents needing migration assistance for cheap labour. This is in fact not dirt in any way but exposing incompetence or corruption. Also accusations from other categories can move into this area if like with Benson-Pope they end up lying to Parliament about it.
If Labour go ahead with their silly threats, then I suggest people look closely at what sort of dirt it is. I suspect it will be mainly from the first or second category and that really will be opening a can of worms.