Editorial: Darren Hughes deserves comeback chance

WARWICK RASMUSSEN, DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 10/06/2011

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OPINION: It took months to clear Darren Hughes' name, but only a few minutes for people to start pondering his political future.

The 33-year-old, now former MP, was under severe scrutiny for being involved in what was described as "a complaint of a sexual nature".

Those few words, whether he was guilty of anything or not, sealed his immediate future.

A police investigation was always going to drag on and Hughes' position would be untenable while that was happening.

He did the right thing at the time and stepped down, quit politics and shunned any publicity – apart from appearing at Paul Henry's beach house.

So, can Hughes get back into politics? He definitely has the talent and drive, but will this fiasco, of which he was completely exonerated, spell the end for him?

Not at all.

Sure, he probably had his eyes on one day leading the Labour Party. That ship has probably sailed.

However, he still has plenty to offer the party that he has been part of all of his adult life.

He is widely liked and could play a pivotal role in Labour's election campaign and beyond, even if they are a long shot at getting back into power.

The saddest part of the saga is that it was avoidable. Yes, Hughes made a poor judgement call to even get himself into that position, but some blame has to lie with party leader Phil Goff who knew about the incident, paused, waited for Hughes to out himself as the MP in question, then acted.

If Goff had "front-footed" the situation and stepped Hughes down while the matter was being investigated, Labour could still have Hughes' service as an MP and whip.

Instead, the climb back to Parliament got that much harder for one of their better performing members.

In a statement on Wednesday, Hughes hinted that he wanted to make a political comeback. He should be afforded that opportunity and then it will be up to the public as to whether they want him or not.

Other sports could learn a lot from netball. Sure, the sport has its fair share of knockers, but it's hard to argue with the passion of their supporters.

Last night's test between our Silver Ferns and Australia at Arena Manawatu was a great example of it. Every move, every play, was cheered on and the team must have felt that support on the court and on the benches.

New Zealanders are an odd bunch when it comes to observing sport; often keeping quiet, rather than screaming their lungs out as seen in other countries. The exception is netball, and that's great to see – and hear.

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- Manawatu Standard

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