The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

from a distance

It seems to me that Taito Field is largely guilty of not maintaining a courteous distance from certain things that he has "helped" with.

I'm no big fan of Mr Field - he has been a reactionary voice against social liberalism in the Labour Caucus, as is evidenced by his views of Civil Unions et al, not to mention his more general politics which are not exactly Left of Labour.

In the information coming to light there are two ways to interpret his actions - generously or harshly:
- did he help the Thai overstayer to avoid deportation and also give him a job, or did he exploit this man to get a cheap tiler?
- did his wife work her arse off at the electorate office and thus deserve some remuneration, or did she take advantage of the generosity of another staff member who offered to share their wages?
- did he help a constituent avoid a mortgagee sale that would have left the family with nothing, or see an opportunity for a good profit?

Despite Field's intentions, which are difficult to interpret, the fact remains that in each of these cases he has not maintained distance from an action that is inappropriate for an MP. He should have ensured that it was someone else's house that was being tiled (and that the tiler was getting a good wage), not used his power inappropriately to get a review that probably wasn't warranted, made sure that his staff (and his wife) understood the rules around nepotism, and lined up another buyer for the house (and you would hope a better price!).

I wouldn't be surprised if more examples come to light, and possibly not just in relation to Field. As an MP you are very vulnerable and a higher standard of conduct is expected (as Sandra Goudie is finding out).

I hope that this is the end of Field's ministerial career, and that he stands down soon or at the next election. But to be honest I'd far rather that his colleagues, and local Labour members, had told him to go for his politics than for his misdemeanours.


gpjwatson said...

Regardless of his politics the whole thing sounds shocking. If an MP on this side of the divide was behaving like this they would be goneburger.

Ghet said...

Eh, yeah, I think you put your finger on it with the interpretation thing. He may not be as evil as he's being painted. But that's where the whole appearance thing comes in. You have to be clean and be seen to be clean as well, and maybe the latter's actually more important than the former. It's not necessarily desireable, but it's a fact of life.

And then again, some public figures seem to be able to ride out a tide of dodgy dealings.

Comrade_Tweek said...

Yeahhh...Sadly, Graham. MPs on your side of the divide have been accused of occasionally acting like that...Owen Jennings, Duncan McIntyre....

But I agree, the dealings of MPs need to be open and honest. If you go to your MP you expect them to help you, not take advantage of you.