Laws: Double standards on Aaron Gilmore

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 07:00 05/05/2013
Aaron Gilmore
DEAD MAN WALKING: Christchurch-based National Party list MP Aaron Gilmore.

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OPINION: What an odd week to be an MP.

If you're Maori and you're dead then you're the patron saint of niceness. But if you're Pakeha and drunk, then everyone is on your case.

When the truth is that you're just flip sides of the same coin: living unnatural lives under enormous stress and just reacting differently. Parekura with permanence; Aaron Gilmore with a similar eternity, because that "prat" moniker attaches itself with the same alacrity as the albatross to the Ancient Mariner.

As a former politician, I'm always bemused by the double standards that attend the media judgment of parliamentarians and lesser politicians. There is an inherent assumption that such individuals should not be human and not be fallible.

They are expected, in all situations and under duress, to always exemplify the finest qualities and examples. To display judgment beyond the rest of us, and tolerance beyond forbearance. In essence, not to be human.

Labour electorate MP Parekura Horomia failed that standard, apparently, because he died - morbidly obese - at the comparatively young age of 62 years. From memory, he was also a smoker.

The National list MP Aaron Gilmore, despite not being dead, may as well be. He failed the public probity test by apparently drunkenly abusing a waiter at the Hanmer Springs resort for not serving him further alcohol. According to media reports, he threatened to set his personal attack dog - the prime minister - upon the aforesaid wowser waiter.

In a funny sort of way, Horomia's untimely death makes him instantly OK. I always found him supremely affable and less of a buffoon then he was publicly portrayed. But death has elevated him - as untimely death does. But only for now.

As with all ex-MPs, the ex is the final grade. You fade very quickly in the House memory no matter your contribution. If you're not part of today then you never existed. It's a ruthless epitaph.

Gilmore has quickly become the walking dead. He is in the House only because Lockwood Smith preferred the London High Commission as his final sabbatical rather than another stint as Speaker. Next on the party list was the 39-year-old Gilmore. One can safely assume that he won't be anywhere near the electable rankings come 2014.

One wine too many, one officious wine waiter too far. Ka-splat.

There is no moral law that suggests MPs have to be better than us. To exhibit standards that we don't meet or display behaviours that shade our own.

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Surely we have learned by now that they are our representatives - as venal, self-centred, intolerant and insensitive as the rest of us, as prone to fits of pique and as likely to be addled.

But most of all they are human. And for the oddest of reasons we prefer not to accept that fact. It just doesn't fit our collective prejudice.

- Sunday Star Times

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