Errant MP rescued by the numbers game

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2013

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OPINION: As Judith Collins succinctly noted, list MP Aaron Gilmore is hardly the first MP to make "a complete tit" of himself after having too much to drink.

Nor is he the only MP caught out behaving - in Mr Gilmore's own words - like a dickhead.

If the bar for sacking someone was set that low, Parliament and half the nation's work places would empty out.

But Mr Gilmore should be thankful all the same that his boss, Prime Minister John Key, has to do the numbers on a daily basis.

Because the savaging Mr Gilmore received behind the closed doors of caucus yesterday is probably mild compared with the savaging he is getting from Nats in the wider community. He has played into the stereotype of the "born to rule" Tory that National has worked so hard to eradicate.

Mr Key must be privately appalled at the behaviour of his lowliest MP. It is impossible to imagine a situation where Mr Key would behave as badly or big note as obnoxiously. It is not in his DNA.

But for now he has no choice but to publicly support Mr Gilmore - while leaving it to others to make it clear to Mr Gilmore that he has no future in the National Party.

He can't demote him because Mr Gilmore has no special responsibilities like a select committee chairmanship to be stripped off.

He also has to measure Mr Gilmore's transgressions against the likes of ACT leader John Banks, and his brain fade over the Kim Dotcom donation, or NZ First MP Richard Prosser, who survived a racist rant.

And expulsion from the caucus is usually for more egregious transgressions, like undermining the leader, conflicts of interest, abusing the office for financial gain, or misappropriating money.

Lying might also be grounds.

Mr Gilmore disputes threatening to use his influence with the prime minister to get a waiter sacked. Texts released yesterday appear to contradict that.

But Mr Key also has to weigh up the likelihood that Mr Gilmore would refuse to quit Parliament and sit on the cross benches, leaving his one-seat majority uncertain.

He won't act unless he can be sure Mr Gilmore will succumb to the pressure and quit Parliament altogether.

In the meantime, there appears to be no shortage of former workmates and colleagues lining up to confirm Mr Gilmore's serial bad behaviour.

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- The Dominion Post

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