But when someone takes time out on the grounds of illness – whether mental or physical – I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s not clear to me whether claims by Labour personnel that he was unwell, made immediately after Carter launched his crazy attack, were an attempt to make Carter look like a sick and deluded man, or whether they expressed genuinely held beliefs. I have to accept the possibility that, despite all the harm Carter has done, some of his MP colleagues may still care for him and are worried about his health.
If Carter is unwell then it would seem the claims made by his colleagues were accurate. Whether or not those claims should have been made in public is another thing to ponder. If they were made out of concern for Carter, and not as a ploy to weaken his position, why make them in public? However, many in Labour will perceive Carter’s attack on Goff as an attack on the entire party. If Carter is not mentally unwell then his fellow party members have every reason to be furious with him.
Another person who needs to examine his own actions in this matter is John Key. Here’s how the Herald has reported Key’s response to Carter’s announcement he is taking sick leave:
"Here's Chris Carter, he has told the truth about his leader and now he's in the sick bin for two months,"And:
"He didn't look very sick to me last week, he looked fairly exercised about the fact that he didn't think Phil Goff could win an election."You would expect Key to stick the boot into Labour on this issue, and have a bit of fun over it. But telling the public that someone is just faking it when, for all we know Carter may well be mentally or physically unwell, sends a bad message, and potentially further stigmatises those who experience mental health issues. Key is no more capable of telling whether Carter is faking it than he is of enunciating a principle that he won’t trade off for short term political gain.
Mr Key said Mr Carter would have to tell the public he was genuinely sick.
It felt like an excuse, Mr Key said.