David Farrar asks:
If as Darren says, he did nothing wrong, why doesn’t Labour add him to the party list for the 2011 election?Labour has already finalised and released its list, as Farrar well knows. To install Hughes high on the list would mean dropping others back a place. That wouldn’t be fair to those who have already been selected. It would probably also subvert the internal processes that the party went through to select the list in the first place, leading to a lot of candidates and party members being seriously pissed off, and leading to the news media attacking the party for changing its mind over such an important matter and running a mickey mouse operation.
If Jesus descended from the heavens and asked to be put on the Labour list for 2011, I suspect the answer would be “Sorry Mr Christ, we’d love to have you, but we’ve already completed our selections for 2011. But how about you door-knock with us this weekend?”
I'm sure Farrar knows this, because he’s been around the political scene for many years. I suppose he couldn't help himself.
Meanwhile, the Herald reports that political scientist Bryce Edwards has called for Darren Hughes to explain himself.
Mr Hughes is now taking a break to consider his future, and the Labour Party has said it would welcome him back.
But Dr Edwards, a politics lecturer at Otago University, said there was still an information vacuum about what happened that night, and questions would remain until Mr Hughes explained himself.
"There will be a lot of sympathy, but until Darren Hughes front-foots the issue and puts up his explanation, he's never going to be totally innocent in the eyes of the public."Right now Hughes has no obligation, legally or morally, to front up to the public about anything. As a former MP he's perfectly entitled to get on with his life, free from scrutiny. I don't see any particular public interest at this time in Hughes explaining himself, because that would be to suggest he did something wrong. He has adamantly denied any wrongdoing, and the police found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing, so surely that should be the end of the matter. Certainly while he remains a private citizen.
But if Hughes ever returns to politics he may have to elaborate more on what occurred that night. Not because he has a moral obligation to do so, but because the sad political reality is that people will probably keep whispering about what might have happened until he clears the air. Once Hughes is out of the limelight he'll be largely forgotten (just as we've largely forgotten Richard Worth), but if he returns to politics the whispering will recommence.
Finally, the entire Hughes affair has been a good opportunity for politicians and commentators to raise further questions about Phil Goff's leadership. I don't think anyone would disagree that the matter could have been handled better. And Goff is fair game as far as those on the right are concerned because, well, this is politics, and the game requires you to bag your opponent whenever you can.
But for those of you on the left still moaning about Goff's leadership (and yes, I know, I was one of them not so long ago), ask yourselves this: what is your moaning achieving? Labour won't change leaders this close to the election, regardless of what Goff does now. By all means have a moan if Labour gets crushed in November, but if people on the left really want to get rid of the Nats then at some point they have to rally around their parties and their leaders. Do you really think that questions about the smoothness and efficacy of Labour's media and communication strategy are more important than the fact that this government is planning to sell our state assets, privatise much of ACC, slash Working For Families, cut benefit entitlements, slash early childcare subsidies further, mine our pristine natural environment, further erode Kiwisaver, gut the public service, and attack worker rights? That's just some of what's in store after November, if National remains in office*.
So moan about Labour if you want to. But if you decide to sit the November election out in protest, don't then complain when all the things I've predicted come to pass.