Labour pulls back on Barclay scandal. Winston, not so much
EDITORIAL: Apparently being relentlessly positive includes being just a tad blinkered.
Labour's leader Jacinda Ardern has made a captain's call that her MPs won't, any more, be wading into Prime Minister Bill English over his role in the Todd Barclay affair.
Essentially, she's portraying this as an issue that doesn't offer enough nutrition for electors, who have more substantial matters to occupy their thoughts this close to the general election.
Except it speaks to the credibility of powerful people in pubic office.
READ MORE: Adern halts Barclay attacks
In any case, English is by no means off the hook even if Labour's professing its determination to stay on the "relentlessly positive" track.
Because, for his part, NZ First leader Winston Peters is just being relentless. It's he, not Labour, who has been leading the charge in recent times, and there's scant prospect of him pulling back the reins.
English had depicted himself as a mere bystander in the dispute between Clutha-Southland MP Barclay and his now-former staffer Glenys Dickson, who had previously worked for English himself in that role.
Barclay, having denied for months that he had covertly recorded Dickson's conversations, pulled out of the election after English himself publicly acknowledged Barclay had told him of the recordings' existence.
It was Peters who asked in Parliament how English could claim bystander status when he had sent more than 450 texts messages to Dickson, in the year before she resigned in February last year, including 22 the day before.
English hasn't flatly denied the substance of Peters' contention, and has revealed he no longer has a copy of the texts.This doesn't, of course, mean that nobody has. And that's where heads inevitably turn once again Winstonwards.
He'll come out with more, when he's good and ready.
Since that's looking like where the action will be, Labour's withdrawal isn't so much a matter of taking the high ground as of having been overtaken and running out of puff halfway up the hill.
English says he's "not particularly concerned" about the content of the texts.
The trouble is, we hear such things a lot. The capacity of our governments to be serene in the face of troubling realities has become more a cause of discomfort than a reassurance.
English says not-all-that-inscrutably that he has given "all relevant material" to the police and they have not come to him asking for more. So it sounds like he didn't pass his texts on. But at least investigators would have a pretty good idea who to hit up for copies.