Ian-Lees Galloway wasn’t sacked for an extra-marital affair. He was sacked because he had a sexual relationship with someone at work where there was a significant power imbalance due to his role as MP and Minister, and because as Minister for Workplace Relations it’s a job requirement not to act in a way that is against good workplace relations.
Matthew Whitehead explains,
1) It’s completely untenable for the Minister of Workplace Relations to leave themselves open to allegations of an improper relationship with someone he’s responsible for and is a sacking offense given that it shows he does not believe in the policies he is required to implement on others. It’s probably a demotion-to-backbencher-level offense for any other minister too, IMO, so long as there is an inappropriate power relationship or corrupt use of their ministerial powers.
<2) IMO if he has an affair but wasn’t a ‘family values’ campaigner or anything similar, it’s none of our fucking business by default, but if it involves misconduct as a Minister, it comes into the public arena because of that conduct. The PM has been clear that this example involved ministerial misconduct, even if she hasn’t revealed the gory details.
(examples such as misappropriating public funds to hide the affair, not declaring a potential conflict of interest due to an intimate relationship, or behaving in a manner that demonstrates they are not fit to hold their portfolios would be the sorts of things I would look for)
Jacinda Ardern explained well what her rationales are (starts at 12m 30),
This is power analysis 101. It’s not a moral issue, it’s one of appropriate behaviours when one has institutional power.
Given the history from both sides of the house on issues related to sexual abuse, harassment, inappropriate behaviour, and issues of power can we please drop the partisan reactions?
It might also be time to look at the clear connections between macho politics, the promotion of abusive culture by some politicians and political parties in their attempts to gain and retain power, the MSM’s role in that, and wider society that sanctions abuse of that power.
Men have a particular part to play in this, because the patriarchal, domination structure we use to organise society favours power towards men (who then often don’t want to share power), and favours abuse of power. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t also women behaving inappropriately, neoliberal patriarchy is quite happy to allow women into positions of power so long as they play by the patriarchal rules (not too many women though, because then things might change towards egalitarian structures).
It’s good that the situation with ILG has come to light now. Best we bring out all the bullshit into the light and have a serious debate what it means. It’s long past time that we stopped giving power to people who don’t know how to use it ethically. That requires New Zealand to take a long hard look at our political culture and what kind of people it is attracting as well as what kind of behaviour it engenders. Individual sackings and resignations won’t change that culture but they do present us with an opportunity to examine more deeply what is going on.