I'm of the opinion these days that David Benson-Pope should go. Too many scandals, and too much taint, fair or unfair. He's a distraction and a liability, and even though he could be doing a good job as a Cabinet member he is doing a bad job as part of the public face of this Government, and by extension of the Centre-Left.
Sometimes in politics you have to step back from a fight even though you haven't done anything wrong. I'm not saying that is necessarily the case for DBP, but I suspect he feels he hasn't offended. However the public perception is against him, and if he wants his team to win then he may have to accept a place on the reserve bench, or even in the stand watching.
He hasn't handled the Madeliene Setchell affair well, even though I kind of agree that she probably shouldn't have got the job. Conflicts of interest are also about perception, and from what I understand about the sensitivity of the job Setchell was employed for it seems she would have been at considerable risk of people assuming that she was passing information on to her National party staffer partner (or that she was in turn including ideas National would have liked in her advice). Ministry and Parliamentary jobs of this nature require a high level of trust - this is so integral that a breakdown of trust and relationship is considered a legitimate reason for terminating employment (with a three month pay out period I think?).
It's sad that Setchell couldn't have done this job without raising eyebrows. I write this as someone with a particular interest in not being judged on the politics or position of their partner, who is in a different party from me. The fact that our public service has become more politicised in the last twenty years is undeniable though. Nicky Hager had some interesting things to say about this in his lecture on The Hollow Men earlier this year. He points to the Fourth Labour Government, and the National Government of the '90s that followed, as the drivers of change in this regard. Hager believes that there has been a great purging of those holding opinions against deregulation, privatisation and the like. Certainly that might explain why even our current Labour-led Government seems to be unable to think outside many of the systems set up under governments ostensibly further to the right. It also explains why the service has changed so much that alarum bells were set off by Setchell's appointment.
The outcome of all this hasn't been fair to Setchell and it may not be fair to DBP either. But that's politics sometimes. It's isn't always right, but there it is.