The congress took place just weeks after the Electoral Commission found that Labour had become the first party to breach its own Electoral Finance Act by distributing a taxpayer-funded pamphlet which was deemed to be election advertising. Williams’ comment at the congress fairly invited the claim that Labour intended to side-step the Act, by using as electioneering tools pamphlets paid for by the taxpayer and intended to provide apolitical information.
Prime Minister Helen Clark quickly rejected this idea and no doubt thought she had shut the issue down, but the hapless Williams promptly re-opened it. His denial that he had endorsed the delegate’s proposal was quickly disproved by a recording of what he had said.
Clark must be livid at her party president, but has brushed off any suggestion that he should resign by explaining that Williams had been “confused”. But this is not the first time that Williams has been confused and misleading.
One could almost suggest Mr Williams is a pathological confuser!
Williams has also made a huge contribution to Labour, as the campaign manager in 1999, as president and fundraiser, so the party would be reluctant to lose his services before the election. But the question which must be asked is how many more gaffes will it take before Labour decides it would be a “damn good idea” to look for a new president.
Maybe it would just be a “damn good idea” not to blatantly lie nine times in one interview.
When the president of a political party says one thing and does another, when a government department suppresses a report that is embarrassing to a senior public servant or when a state-owned enterprise associates itself with a company that uses questionable tactics, they do not just damage their own reputations. They damage confidence in institutions that rely upon public trust to function effectively, The Dominion Post writes.
When TVNZ aired a tape showing Labour Party president Mike Williams had used words he said he had not used at a Labour strategy session his response was to say he was sorry for misleading the public but he did not recall using the words in question. When Prime Minister Helen Clark revealed he had admitted to her that he had used the words, several days before he went on television to deny using them, her response was not to demand his resignation but to question the way TVNZ had used the tape.
Indeed. How dare TVNZ reveal her President lied.
If TVNZ had really wanted to play mischief, they could have kept the tape under wraps for a few more days, and asked Clark, Goff and King if this new version of events as told by Mike Williams was now the correct one. Who would want to bet money that they would have contradicted him? And then think the damage which would have been done if the tape came out after everyone in Labour aligned their stories to the new version. So Clark should not be angry at TVNZ – she should be pleased they aired the tape when they did.
Of course if Mike Williams had never changed the story, and resurrected what was mainly a dead story, TVNZ probably would have never even felt a need to use the tape.