I have stayed quiet about ACT. Maintaining a distance partly because I know as little about the last few months as most. But I cannot pretend that I have felt indifferent. And I write now if only to get the stuff out of my head that prevents me properly concentrating on other matters.
I have never known Rodney as a bully. And I was relieved to hear Deborah Coddington say the same on NewstalkZB last night. On the other hand I did experience Stephen Franks as a bully over a matter where I chose to put personal loyalty above political expediency and was severely chastised for it. I like Stephen but was very uneasy about his appearance as Heather's 'support person'. It was Stephen who ensured that Heather was placed at number 2 on the list in 2005 to act as some sort of moderating influence or counter to Rodney at number 1. Stephen had lost the mad primary-style leadership election to Rodney and I believe the current problems go back that far - at least. Richard Prebble should carry the can for that piece of insanity.
Rodney would have tried to avoid personal conflict coming to a head because I don't think he handles relationships very well. I still see him as a lone player but a very effective one. His intellect and charisma are substantial. Heather's are not.
As an ACT member and candidate I was overtly loyal to Rodney. I was transparent about voting for him to lead the party and would do the same over again. Realising how deep the division went through 2005-2008, with Heather seeing herself as the only one of the two ACT MPs maintaining party "respectability", my being offered 14 on the list by Heather's clique makes more sense. Thank God it happened or I might have been embroiled in this current crisis.
Because once you are an MP you can never be your own person again. I have come to the view that is it impossible to maintain integrity and avoid being compromised. That is the nature of the beast when you work with people whose motives or priorities may differ from your own. In life there are good people and there are bad people, and we are nearly all one or the other at some point. Thankfully the conflict and dramas remain private. In politics they unfold in public.
Heather probably believes she was well-intentioned; working selflessly for the good of the party (leaving aside any ill-judgement shown in allowing another or others too much influence on her defence associate ministership). But she overestimated her following. Went to that classic place politicians go to when they listen only to people fawning all over them most probably.
Rodney now has to put the facts on the table. Mapp should assist him. Let the court of public opinion do its work with as much objectivity as can be mustered. That's the best hope he has of salvaging his party and reputation. And I don't think salvaging is too strong a word.
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