May 12, 2013
MP might have avoided disaster
Opinion: Government list MP Aaron Gilmore is proving to be John Key's biggest nightmare at the moment.
Key has worked hard at getting rid of the born-to-rule attitude which is how National MPs were perceived for many years.
However, Gilmore's arrogant behaviour when he threatened a waiter's job then dropped the prime minister's name and asked the waiter: "Do you know who I am" is a setback to the Key strategy of dispelling the stereotype views that the public have of his party.
On our talkback show we fielded call after call from furious people demanding Gilmore's resignation.
Kiwis don't like "big noters" or bullies and that's exactly how Gilmore came across.
His subsequent apology at a press conference where he labelled himself a dickhead seemed OK until texts revealed the next day contradicted what he had said at the conference.
If the prime minister is able to get rid of Gilmore then he could be gone by the time you read this column.
Just cutting him loose is not an option for Key.
If that happened Gilmore could just become an independent like Brendan Horan and the government would lose a vital vote.
The best result would be if Gilmore voluntarily disappeared and, given Key's expert organising skills, that might still happen.
Gilmore though could have avoided the debacle if he had just fessed up and apologised straight away.
Kiwis are generally a forgiving lot.
Who, for example, will ever forget the Shane Jones apology when he was caught out watching porno movies on taxpayers' money.
Jonesy fessed up on our talkback show on Radio Live and then gave a series of interviews where he was so humble that many of us wondered if the real Shane Jones was still with us – so good were his apologies.
The public forgave him and while Shane will never become the first Māori Prime Minister, which was an early prediction, he still has a chance to be Labour's most significant Maori MP over the next decade.
Kiwis also forgave former Act leader Rodney Hide when he fessed up over travel for his girlfriend.
Hide had terrorised other MPs over their misuse of parliamentary dollars through the years.
In fact he was seen as Parliament's chief perk buster so it was a shock when he was caught abusing privileges but his apology worked even if it was somewhat pathetic and grovelling.
Aaron Gilmore's sins seem almost minuscule compared to Jones and Hide.
However, the difference is that it seems he has not been honest with the public and, even worse than that, not honest with his leader.
Which surely will spell the end of his career if not now then definitely at the next election.