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ImperatorFish: David Shearer suspends rule-breaking Labour MP

Written By: - Date published: 8:02 am, March 19th, 2013 - 114 comments
Categories: Satire - Tags: ,

Scott at Imperator Fish has kindly given us permission to syndicate posts from his blog – the original of this post is here.

Shearer Shearer

Labour Party leader David Shearer has moved quickly to discipline one of his MPs for failing to declare a pecuniary interest.

“I expect high standards from my MPs” said Shearer, as he announced that MP David Shearer would be stood down from all duties.

The suspension arose after the MP today admitted failing to declare a foreign bank account on the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Labour’s leader said he hoped the move would be a “wake-up call” to members of Labour’s caucus.

“These rules exist for a reason, and we have to take them seriously” Shearer said.

Shearer agreed that the failure by one of his MPs to follow the rules was a “bad look” that “let the side down”.

But he refused to be drawn on whether he would reinstate the MP for Mt Albert after a spell on the backbenches.

“That’s in David’s hands now,” said Shearer.

“David is a very talented member of parliament, and he has a huge amount to offer the party. But he has to prove he can be relied upon to get the rules right.”

Shearer said he would decide over the next few days who would take over Shearer’s Leadership portfolio.

The portfolio is seen as a crucial one for Labour, and there has been some criticism of David Shearer’s performance in the role.

Shearer’s suspension now gives Shearer the opportunity to bring someone new into the role, although some insiders have speculated that David Shearer may himself take the portfolio on.

“David Shearer should step up and take control, and assert himself in the Leadership role,” said pretty much everyone.

The demoted MP last night refused to comment on the decision by his leader. But he confirmed that he still fully supported David Shearer as leader of the Labour Party.

114 comments on “ImperatorFish: David Shearer suspends rule-breaking Labour MP ”

  1. He should resign, and the vote should be put the wider party.
    Anything else is just joke politics.

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      It is not unusual for an MP to make a correction to their return of pecuniary interests due a genuine and honest mistake. No big deal.

      • Steady Course 1.1.1

        If if it was John Keys “honest mistake” would it still not be “no big deal”?

      • Joe Bloggs 1.1.2

        A genuine and honest mistake? There’s a Tui’s moment right there.

        Shearer remembered to declare this account to the IRD, but “forgot” to declare it to the House, not once but repeatedly.

        C’mon TG, he’s the leader of the opposition, not some first-term back-bencher from the sticks. He can read. The rules are clear.

      • Monty 1.1.3

        I think Shearer is lying. the herald reports

        “Mr Shearer said he discovered the error because he was filling in his tax return at the same time as filling out his return for Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests and “saw that I hadn’t put it on there”.

        Now the question is that we are in March – the end of the tax year is 31 March. You cannot do tax returns prior to 31 March as not all the income for the year is in. Maybe it is time for Shearer to come clean – and exactly how much money did he “forget about”. This does not add up. Are Labour going to hold Shearer to the same account as they constantly call upon the Nats – or is it one rule for Labour and one rule for everyone else???

        • Sparky 1.1.3.1

          Mr Shearer (billy bunter) wouldn’t know the difference between a lie and the truth.

      • The Al1en 1.1.5

        Yep, big deal.

        The party membership should have a say on this disastrous, unimpressive leader as soon as can be arranged.
        Why wait until after the 2014 vote when he’s going to be rolled in opposition anyway?

      • dumrse 1.1.6

        Really, not even after declaring it four times to the IRD. Mmmmmm, that was a silly assumption, sorry about that.

        • Akldnut 1.1.6.1

          I’m still thinking Transrail and bottles of wine, at least Shearer came clean with no denial.

  2. alex 2

    Shearer’s tenure is just getting sad to watch.

    • Red Rosa 2.1

      The gift to the Nats that just keeps on giving.

      • SpaceMonkey 2.1.1

        Oh yeah… just when the media and opposition should be crawling all over this Government on Solid Energy, they’re gifted this. Just who is David Shearer working for?

        • marty mars 2.1.1.1

          “Just who is David Shearer working for?”

          That is a very good question – it is not the left or their election chances that is for sure. The once pretty-good labour party is on the slippery slope to oblivion and keylite just squirted dishwashing liquid on that slope.

          All of the tribal labour people need to wake up and seek another political party to support. I don’t expect they will choose The Mana Party because, well, it is too indigenous for them and their privilege but at least they should go with the Greens who, for all of their faults, at least are honest.

    • Rhinocrates 2.2

      It’s increasingly sad to watch the excuses for him too. “It’s no big deal, just a beat up”, “He’ll get better – give him time”, “Nothing to see here, move along.” All of those are wearing pretty thin.

      Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a conspiracy… and week after week, it’s utter fucking uselessness. He’s poison and he has to go. Now.

      • Rhinocrates 2.2.1

        Sorry, I must correct that. He is useful after all. Useful to Mallard, Goff, King, Jones, that little shit Hipkins…

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Key’s staff already have a bunch of lines prepared for the debates. Goff failed to show Key the money; Shearer plain forgot.

    • chris73 3.1

      I used to have the idea that members of parliament were fine, upstanding, intelligent people with impeccable integrity no matter what side of the political spectrum they were on.

      The NZ political landscape of the last 20 years or so (and most crucially the internet and blogging) have helped to clear me of such naive notions.

      Whats happening to Shearer gives me no pleasure at all because members of the right have done many similar things.

      So a question I have is why are politicians on the left and right doing this?

      Is it because they’ve always done it but now the internet has meant that information can be freely accessed and quickly?

      Or have this generation of politicians changed so much and if so why?

      Hubris?

      I’m really struggling to understand how people with so much money and so many resources make so many bone-headed decisions…

      • Dr Terry 3.1.1

        Too many MPs never knew, or have forgotten, that they are “servants of the public” – that public which so frequently they choose to totally ignore.

    • Nick K 3.2

      He remembered for IRD purposes.

  4. David H 4

    This is going to make Parliament interesting today. And it will let the govt use it to turn the spotlight away from the clusterfuck that’s been their leadership of the country.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1

      Really ?

      And how does The government ask questions of the opposition ?

      • alex 4.1.1

        They don’t, but every single answer to a question can end with “But LAAYBOUR thinks its okay to hide offshore bank accounts!!!” Meaning it will make the opposition’s job of questioning the govt impossible.

        • felixviper 4.1.1.1

          The Speaker, being an impartial servant of the house, will never allow this to happen.

          The first member who attempts such behaviour will be immediately stopped and sternly cautioned, the second will be expelled from the house.

          lolz

          • One Tāne Huna 4.1.1.1.1

            😆

          • UpandComer 4.1.1.1.2

            Even if David Carter wore a T shirt in the house saying ‘I’m a key person’ he would still be more impartial and independent then Jonathan epic stain Hunt and Margaret shrill shill Wilson

            • felixviper 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Oh bugger, I guess that means I can’t criticise him then, eh?

              Hang on, no it doesn’t – in fact it’s completely irrelevant! Goodo!

  5. Olwyn 5

    Fail to declare $50 to WINZ or HNZ and you are culpable, fail to declare more than $50,000 dollars in a foreign bank account to parliament and you are “forgetful.”

    • Rhinocrates 5.1

      … and if you dare to paint your roof…

      This just shows what a venal hypocritical prick he is.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2

      Thats because the money or assisatance is dependent on how much you have.

      Doesnt affect his pay or support payments.

      Then again if you forget to declare shares in company , which you are actively trading, while recieving ‘insider’ information, thats different.

      Or if you forget a massive donation to your mayoral campaign, which you solicited, and then sign a legal document which says its a true account.

    • Tom Gould 5.3

      Don’t be silly. It’s hardly a rort. No harm done. No advantage gained. The Standing Orders say:

      20 Errors or omissions

      (1) Any member who becomes aware of an error or omission in any return previously made by that member must advise the Registrar of that error or omission as soon as practicable after becoming aware of it.

      (2) The Registrar may, at the Registrar’s own discretion, publish amendments on a website to correct errors or omissions advised under subclause (1).

      (3) Nothing in this Appendix requires members to advise the Registrar of changes to their interests that have occurred since the effective date of their last return.

      • Colonial Viper 5.3.1

        As you have noted, different rules apply to different ruling classes. I believe that was Olwyn’s point.

        • Olwyn 5.3.1.1

          Thanks CV. That was my point.

          • Tom Gould 5.3.1.1.1

            Your ‘point’ is only valid if the’ rule’ infringed was the same but the sanction was different between those infringing.

            • Olwyn 5.3.1.1.1.1

              What I am talking about mainly is the way in which such infringements are understood. The poor tend to be understood as the rational inferiors of the well-off, to the extent that political arguments now largely revolve around their management rather than their representation. Nonetheless, they are held culpable for their financial oversights while their “rational superiors” have the leeway of forgetfulness by which to explain themselves.

              It is true that there is no pecuniary gain involved in Shearer’s oversight, but if you set yourself above others, to the point of thinking that you are qualified to manage them, you should hold yourself to a higher, rather than lower standard, than the standard to which you hold them.

              • Tom Gould

                Even more ‘irrational’ coming from those who claim the right to prescribe the policy and the outcomes, rendering the ‘managers’ as simple functionaries. You seem to want it both ways.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Note to the Shearer Bearers: more seriously, this is another reason why you don’t put 1st term back bench MPs in as Leader. As an ordinary backbencher you are still learning the rules and the ropes; something like this would simply have been a beginners fuck up in the back pages. Happened, sort it, walk away lesson learnt. But when it goes down as Leader, it becomes a real issue and makes you look too rookie to be PM.

    • One Tāne Huna 6.1

      If I can just channel Shearer for a moment.

      “Perception is…that is to say in politics, um, perceptions are…our position is that well, we’re not ruling out the idea that in politics, perception is…something we need to look at um….that we’re dealing with a political position here, and that it’s everything really, um…”

  7. Joe Bloggs 7

    Shearer has been shown to be lacking in integrity and honesty.

    This helps explain why Shane Jones has been brought back to the front benches of the Opposition… when serious questions are raised about the judgement of a senior caucus member, Shearer can no longer use his own behaviour as the measure of what is right and good. His moral compass is unreliable.

    The rules on filing pecuniary interests are clear. Filing a false statement, a statutory document, not once but repeatedly, requires a full investigation. It’s important to hold members of Parliament to account. That’s what Parliament does – that’s parliamentary democracy in action. Bring it on.

    In the meantime Shearer must be stood down – as Mallard said of Finlayson in much less serious circumstances, “he needs to go to the sin bin and not be allowed out until he can prove that each of his declarations have been factual”

    • Steve 7.1

      I see why you are so worried. Shearer was Honest in owning up without being caught out as opposed to Key English Banks lying through their teeth when caught out. It may look bad now but can be used Positively for Labour later when comparing a Honest politician against a Very dishonest Key. 🙂

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Given recent events, is the standard for being on the Labour front bench: “Inept is OK so long as its not corruption”?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Thats Nationals rule, but they also allow dishonest and keep Banks on

    • tricledrown 8.2

      tsm same with National paraiha blinglish Nomorepay after Blinglish had overseen incis and dhb healthdept IT fuck ups in the 90’s still bungling away with taxpayers money!
      The difference News Media gives Nactional a free ride!

  9. gobsmacked 9

    I think the bigger problem here is that it shows (yet again) how useless Shearer’s advisers are.

    All yesterday I was under the impression Shearer had casually mislaid over 50K and not even noticed it was missing. That was a widespread perception, if social media is any guide. (“How can you not know… ?” etc). It looked very bad.

    But that”s not what happened. He was well aware of it, he did declare it to the IRD but overlooked the Parliamentary register. A mistake, sure, but a very different one from forgetting that the bank account even existed.

    Obviously the way to deal with this was to get all the facts out ASAP, including (gasp) via those new-fangled internet things that Shearer doesn’t read. But there was nothing. So, what fills a vacuum? Ill-informed speculation. A misleading perception has now taken hold, and that’s not going to shift easily.

    It’s symptomatic of Labour’s media failure. They just do the old thing – put out a press release, tell the gallery, problem solved. They think that’s the end of modern communication. In fact, it’s only the beginning of the “spin war”, as any adviser living in the 21st century could tell you.

    Labour aren’t just losing the war, they aren’t even on the battlefield.

    • felixviper 9.1

      +1

    • Joe Bloggs 9.2

      If Shearer has to rely on “advisors” to remind him about money hidden in offshore bank accounts – then he’s stuffed…

      If he knew about it and failed to disclose it to the House – then he’s stuffed…

      If he tries to spin his way out of this outrageous ineptitude – then he’s stuffed…

      … meh, he’s stuffed.

      • gobsmacked 9.2.1

        “money hidden in offshore bank accounts” is – of course – false.

        But you righties will spin it that way, and us lefties will say “meh” instead of leaping to his defence. Shearer (i.e. Mallard and Old Guard) have decided they can dispense with activists, so now we can’t be arsed getting active on their behalf.

        • Joe Bloggs 9.2.1.1

          1. he knew he had money in an offshore account – and quite a substantial amount evidently
          2. he disclosed the existence of the account to the IRD
          3. he failed to disclose the account to the House of Representatives
          4. … repeatedly
          5. … over several years

          Money? Yup! Hidden? Yup!

          No need for spin. Shearer’s a perfectly good spinner in his own right.

        • UpandComer 9.2.1.2

          I don’t know how else you could describe it?

          I have to say I’m gratified you at least view this as a problem. We all know that were this John Key or Banks that Saint Peter would be up on his cloud wearing ear-muffs at the outrage and innuendo

          • felixviper 9.2.1.2.1

            “We all know that were this John Key or Banks”

            You say that as if it were a hypothetical. Both men have been caught red-handed not only hiding their interests but lying about it after the fact.

            For Key, several times.

      • tricledrown 9.2.2

        Joe blogs maybe he should have a cup of tea with the 2 johnnies!

    • Colonial Viper 9.3

      It’s symptomatic of Labour’s media failure. They just do the old thing – put out a press release, tell the gallery, problem solved.

      Paraphrasing Toby Ziegler on damage control: “get it out first, get it out early, get it out under your control, keep it there.”

      And I learnt this off a goddam TV show.

      • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 9.3.1

        Ziegler, while doing background on a candidate for the US Supreme Court: “Get me EVERYTHING. I want to know every parking ticket. I want to know every girlfriend he stood up for dinner in 1953.”

        NZ version: “Does this candidate for leadership of the party have a pile of cash sitting in a foreign bank? has he avoided disclosing its existence when questioned, on multiple occasions? is the amount of cash such that he would look like a rich prick with overseas investments just when the party might be getting some traction on the living wage and asset sales?

        “Nah, too hard, at least he’s not David Cunliffe eh? Good enough bro!”

  10. ghostrider888 10

    Key concedes; everything I have seen about housing bubbles is that they are not good for an economy. just sayin’

  11. Professor Longhair 11

    “David is a very talented member of parliament, and he has a huge amount to offer the party.”

    Well, THAT’s a lie.

  12. Raymond a Francis 12

    Give it a rest Bloggsy, you made your point and are now starting to sound like a broken record

    • Joe Bloggs 12.1

      Sorry if I’m making you feel all weak and vulnerable Ray …

      … nah, I’m not really sorry.

  13. Watching 13

    As I have worked extensively in a number of different countries – therefore by default I have had a number of overseas bank accounts. I could not list all the accounts without going to my records but the one account I do know that exist is the one my salary was paid into.

    If I was a politician & saw my Register of Pecuniary Interests (especially when I put it together in 2009) I would notice within an instance that my bank account used for salary and expenses deposits (and by default this bank account has a significant part of my normal living transactions) was missing.

    I simply do not believe that David Shearer has not checked his Register of Pecuniary Interests since 2009 because the stakes are too high to have it wrong.

    To my knowledge the Greens have yet to comment & normally they are very quick on politician and transparent issues. Is there something else at play here?

    Either David Shearer has (1) make a huge mistake which can only get worse as we speculate on how much is in the account (is it $50k or $350k or $1M) (2) shown voters that core money management is not his thing – yeah those in the middle ground will take this on board and (3) just put another question around his leaderships especially as the IRD is targeting those overseas bank accounts.

    Does anyone know if a MP has to sign off/validity their Register of Pecuniary Interests each year?

  14. Raa 14

    Yeah, it’s a mistake .. but a lot of people would like to be in the position to make that sort of mistake.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      but a lot of people would like to be in the position to make that sort of mistake.

      Sure, the top 1%

      • Raa 14.1.1

        It will be forgotten in the next news cycle – or when ‘thestandard’ blog editor-managers post new topics. I’d give it a currency of a about a week, and Key has enough bloopers on his record to render it politically irrelevant.

        The upside is that Shearer and/or his advisers have fronted, taken it on the chin, and moved on.

        • fatty 14.1.1.1

          yes, it’ll all be forgotten by next week…but John Key will remind everyone in the pre-election debates

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.2

          Raa – I agree that the detail will be forgotten in a week. The impression it reinforces however may be a different matter.

    • dumrse 14.2

      Mistake my arse.

  15. Mark 15

    Offshore bank accounts, trusts, rental properties, electoral donations from other parties, acceptance of Sky City invitations to RWC etc.. standard practises from most Politicians.. just that some are more hypocritical than others with their screeches…

  16. arcadia13 16

    Stunning “Own Goal” from Shearer. What an idiot. 1 year, you could understand, but 4?

    John Banks will be dining out on this cock-up by Shearer. Key will be laughing his head off.

    Norman will be facepalming & Meteria will shake her Medievil Chainmail in utter disgust no doubt.

    Shearer should give himself an uppercut. He has ruined what slim credibility he had. God help Labour at the next Election. They might get the most votes out of the Left Block, but Norman & Peters will be superglueing strings to him and playing him for the puppet (muppet?) he is!

    • karol 16.1

      John Banks will be dining out on this cock-up by Shearer. Key will be laughing his head off.

      Key got in a few snarky jabs in Question Time today. Banks, on the other hand, tried but got hoist on the Speaker’s clumsy petard, enablng Winston to slip in a Banks-Dotcom jibe.

  17. One Tāne Huna 17

    In itself Shearer’s latest fumble isn’t a death sentence. It’s that word “latest”, that’s the problem.

    The dumbass anti-coup was much worse. The hesitant delivery, the painter on the roof story.

    All of these things can be overcome in time. The team just need to hit their straps. Give ’em until 2014 to get their act together, deslect the ones that don’t, and in the meantime get a proper fucking leader.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      deslect the ones that don’t

      Labour Party selections typically start in 5-6 months time IIRC.

      • One Tāne Huna 17.1.1

        Good.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          Remember two parts:

          Regional List Conferences which help determine the rankings on the party list

          Electorate Candidate Selections

          Sitting MPs will not have to contend with an electorate selection process IF no other Labour member challenges for the selection.

    • Anne 17.2

      The dumbass anti-coup was much worse.

      All the evidence suggests they are still sticking to the claim that the ‘attempted coup’ did take place when the delegates who were actually present for the entire duration of that conference know it never happened.

      Denial…denial…denial… and so it goes on ad infinitum.

  18. Russell 18

    This is not a case of somebody finding a tenner in a pair of pants they have not worn for a while. Until Shearer demonstrates exactly how much money is in this account and perhaps explains where it came from we are free to speculate. Could be millions of bucks.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      We know where it came from, we just don’t know how he managed to forget it. Of course he didn’t actually forget it, he failed to declare it as required and did so several times.

  19. Joe Bloggs 19

    so what kind of prick would have at least $50,000 hidden in an offshore bank account and forgets about it?

    You’d have to be a pretty rich prick to ‘forget’ you’ve got that much money lying around.

    • gobsmacked 19.1

      Read me@9 again, Joe. And take Raymond’s advice too.

      Forgot the register. Not the account. (At first I thought you were deliberately confusing the two, but I’m starting to think you’re dumb enough to be confused).

      • Joe Bloggs 19.1.1

        Oh come now Gobsmacked, surely even you can see the funny side of this…? Surely even you can savour the delicately flavoured taste of hubris in the air?

        • felixviper 19.1.1.1

          Definitely a whiff of something in the air.

          Joe, either you know he forgot the register and not the account, or you don’t. If you do, your comments are in very bad faith.

          If you don’t, well you’re a bit slow I guess.

  20. karol 20

    Is Duncan Garner deluded? Or does “rip into” mean something different when it comes to our PM?

    Garner tweeted today:

    Is the Press Gallery going to rip into Shearer today and tonight … we would have if it was Key … and we did ….

  21. MrSmith 21

    Bumble-fuck strikes again, Oh you poor Labour supporters, the man can’t even tie his own shoe laces.

    • Anne 21.1

      Pretty hard going sometimes MrSmith.

      Refused to attend my Labour electorate meeting last night. Did so because of my strong adherence to the principle of fair play. Guest speaker was Chris Hipkins. To my knowledge anyway he has never apologised for calling David Cunliffe “a fink” in a televised interview.

  22. outofbed 22

    Fuck it I give up I am going to vote National

    • fender 22.1

      “Fuck it I give up I am going to vote National”

      That would be a knee-jerk reaction, better stay in bed.

  23. Elizabeth Bourchier 23

    I’m surprised that so many are surprised.

    Since Nov 11 when he was shoe horned in by the Wrllington clique it was often pointed out that Shearer lacked Parliamentry experience necessary for the Leadership role.
    A parliamentary career is not a retirement option. Shearer was a bit long in the tooth when he was handed Mt Albert by his school chum Goff.

    Shearer was a mistake from the start.
    Shearer will not get better.

    • Anne 23.1

      Elizabeth Bourchier get your facts correct. Goff and Shearer were not school chums. They went to the same school yes, but some 4 to 5 years apart. No, I didn’t support Shearer for the leadership.

  24. felixviper 24

    The way I see it Labour can either be:

    a) just like National and protect Shearer, or

    b) better than National and sack the prick.

    • Colonial Viper 24.1

      There’s a very good reason that National continue to protect John Key. “Brand Key” has electoral cred and is still worth a lot to the National Party. There’s no other bugger in the National caucus (Joyce, Collins, English,…) who can currently beat the job Key does with the electorate.

      As for why Labour continues to protect David Shearer. None of the above reasons apply.

    • Rhinocrates 24.2

      b) better than National and sack the prick.

      What, and give up the very best deck chairs at the bottom of the North Atlantic? Never!

      • Colonial Viper 24.2.1

        Better yet, you can be undisputedly in charge of the ship from the bottom of the North Atlantic!

  25. Naki nark 25

    David Cunliffe smashed Peter Dunne on Monday and today. David Shearer forgot about more money than I have ever had. Wish Cunliffe was leader.

  26. fender 26

    Great work by Shearer, he doesn’t need this money he had forgotten to declare and has obviously been planning for some time to use this cash to set up a trust that will enable the sick and infirm to get roof repairs. What a great guy and what a great idea to help those less fortunate maintain a weatherproof structure overhead.

    It’s about time we had generous MP’s like this, despite the dubious publicity stunt surrounding the launch, it’s a great initiative.

    Failing this ^ , it’s time to elect a new leader.

  27. logie97 27

    One of the pretexts for David Shearer being selected and elected by the party was that he was not tainted by years within the system and brought fresh hope. Mmmmmm… not a good look is it. In fact it looks pathetic.

  28. the sprout 28

    As a regular working Labour member, if not voter, I know I’m forever forgetting 50k here and 100k there. Just yesterday I found 80k rolled up in some undies under the bed. And just last month I forgot about my two investment properties and my lifestyle block for getting away to in the hols. I feel refreshed to know the Great Labour Leader knows what its like to live like we everyday people.

    If you are a member of the Labour Caucus and you have propped this fool up by voting for him, then you are responsible for the monumental fuck-up that is David Shearer. Your choices will not be forgotten.

    • Craig Glen viper 28.1

      Agreed Sprout those who voted for this idiot should not be forgotten. I dread the next election if Shearer and Mallard are any where near it. I wish I had 50k in a bank account off shore then I could take off for three months so I dont have to watch Labour getting smashed by National, who sadly are not even good..

  29. In the memoirs that will surely come, that nobody will really read, there’ll be chapters all about the late night crisis meetings and how they all tried their very best to cap the explosion and limit the fallout, to no avail.

    Bargain bin at the warehouse, look for them all.
    The perfect gifts for the people you don’t like very much.

  30. I don’t think the main problem here is forgetting about the Parliamentary Register of Pecuniary Interests (though that represents inexplicably sloppy behaviour, given how often that particular process has been in the headlines for politicians and how important it is for transparency around conflicts of interest).

    The main problem is that this can be seen, perhaps unkindly, as a ‘forgetfulness’ that did provide a definite political advantage to Shearer.

    Failing to declare a sizeable amount of money in a bank account at the United Nations – an organisation he worked for for quite a few years – could be seen as an attempt to preserve his ‘backstory’.

    A lot of emphasis was and is placed on that story – ‘Key went overseas to make 50 million dollars; Shearer went overseas to save 50 million lives’ (oh, and just happened to stash large amounts of money away in the process).

    Put bluntly, if voters knew about a large sum of money in a United Nations bank account they may doubt that the sight of mango peels was the main motivation for Shearer to spend part of his career (in fits and starts) with the United Nations. As soon as that motivation comes into question, the backstory shrivels then dissolves into dust. And when that happens it starts not to matter whether or not you were doing ‘good deeds’.

    As T.S. Eliot put it in Murder in the Cathedral, “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” That might sound unfair to some ears, but it reflects a deep suspicion that is often worth having (if only for future reference – e.g., when you elect people to positions of power).

    Whatever the truth behind his failure to declare the account, there is a line that can be run that could establish that there was a political advantage to be had in not declaring it.

    That’s damaging.

    Perhaps fatally if it stirs the ‘h’ word in people’s minds. If it does, then Key’s pursuit of his own enrichment may even start to look ‘honest’ by comparison.

    • Green machine UpandComer 30.1

      It’s more awful the more you look at it.

      That UN salary was untaxed, and it was absolutely enormous, on a par with the Prime Minister, and he was holding it with a US bank of all things. It could be a 9 figure sum, easily, given it was over 4 years, but as you say, he went overseas to save lives, money never entered into his head.

  31. Rhinocrates 31

    Mummy, make it stop! It hurts! Make it stop! Please!

  32. Tiresias 32

    A while back I had some sterling in a UK bank account. I contacted the bank asking it to close the account and transfer the funds to another bank, which it duly did. However for some odd reason to do with the way banks do things the grand sum of 51 pence was credited back into the account after the transfer as interest.

    And every month for at least six years I have received, here in New Zealand, a paper statement mailed from that UK bank reminding me that I (now) have 55 pence in that account, such are the wonders of compound interest.

    Each statement probably costs the bank more than 55p to mail to me. It would certainly cost me more than that to do anything about it. As I see it the bank failed to follow my instructions to close the account so I don’t see it as my problem. Anyway the bank – now largely owned by the great GB taxpayer – can afford it. But the one thing it has proved impossible for me to do is to forget that I have a few pence in a bank account in the UK ‘cos every month I get a reminder in the mail.

    Another thing that doesn’t quite ring true is the picture of the Leader of the Labour party, with his Parliamentary salary and all these other bits of cash scattered around the globe, hunched over the kitchen table chewing the end of his pencil and doing his own tax return.

    This whole business rings as false to me as the great media beat-up of the new Pope ‘paying his own hotel bill’ as though that somehow came out of his own pocket rather than the coffers of the Catholic Church. The application of Occam’s Razor suggests to me that long ago it was decided that having large sums of money sitting in a US bank account was not a good look for a (prospective?) Labour MP, particularly one looking to trade on an image of humility and good works over affluence, and it was quietly buried. Like Iago he might protest that he prefers a good name to money, but tried to have both and that to me is a fraud and a deception which will forever undermine anything else he professes

    • mac1 32.1

      Tiresias, “and it was quietly buried.”

      Why then did the interrer then dig up this body? After all, remember, it was Shearer who approached the media with the story. He was the one who rectified his mistake.

      Occam’s Razor would suggest a simpler reason- good old human error.

      A case in point; I had an insurance advisor for a couple of retirement pension funds visit me last week. Did I also know that I had an insurance policy from 1978 now worth $33 grand? Nope. I’ve been paying the contributions off on a bank automatic payment for so long, I’d forgotten.

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