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Hard to move on from this scandal

Opinion Piece

The old saw that a week is a long time in politics was proved again last week as the Labour Party found itself reeling from the fact allegations against a senior staff member included sexual assault, and that complainants felt it was being covered up.

Up until that surfaced the party, and the Government it leads, had been on something of a good run announcing a series of policies that gave the impression it was on top of the job.

But the revelation of mishandled sexual assault allegations turned it overnight into the most disastrous week of its nearly two years in power, and has left Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern clearly rattled.

One suspects that Ardern has been badly let down by some people she should have been expected to be able to trust. Party president Nigel Haworth fell on his sword but it’s extremely doubtful that will satisfy the public.

National has grasped this gift from heaven with both hands. Deputy leader Paula Bennett has focused on trying to determine when Ardern knew of the full nature of the allegations.

National will continue to focus on this theme as the scandal continues. Anything that discredits Ardern is priceless for them because they know she is the Government’s greatest single asset.

The fact there are suggestions Ardern may have known earlier than she says will be used to try to discredit the notion that she is a caring and empathetic person.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, someone well known for handling any problem of this sort, has advised Ardern to move on but that will not be easy.

Elsewhere in the news cycle US Prime Minister Donald Trump fired his hawkish security adviser John Bolton, something that would be welcomed by most of the rest of the Western world because of Bolton’s seeming inclination to invade problem areas like Iran.

Fresh trouble erupted in the Middle East when Houthi rebels launched drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The rebels are backed by Iran in Yemen’s civil war, while the Saudis back the government. Fortunately for us all, Bolton won’t be in Trump’s ear about a response.