A Southland Times editorial has a pretty blunt assessment of the PM:
English wasn’t there for us
In what he has done and in what he has failed to do, English has himself become a party to the deception of the public.
For months Todd Barclay was publicly insisting he had no involvement in, nor knowledge of, any covert taping of his Clutha-Southland electorate agent, and antagonist, Glenys Dickson. Yet by English’s own account Barclay had told him about the presence of such tapes, and even made a rebuffed offer to give him a listen.
So from English’s perspective either he or we were being sorely misled, for a long period. His reaction was not to make the MP come clean with the truth. Nor, by his account, to find out what the truth was.
Apparently that would have been wildly inappropriate, even after English was elevated from Finance Minister to Prime Minister. Because, see, this was just part of a “complicated employment dispute” in which he had no business meddling.
Which is rubbish. As is English’s initial assertion, when questioned by the media, that he couldn’t remember who it was who had told him about the tape. This claim does violence to common sense.
Even now English emphasises that, even though Barclay told him the tape exists, he doesn’t know for sure whether it does. Such is the Prime Minister’s view of the trustworthiness of an MP who, had this not blown up, he would have been willing to see remain in public office.
But politics is not a game in which bluffing and misdirection are to be placidly accepted as tactical necessities. Especially when straightforwardness is such an important part of your brand. It’s a brand English himself has perceptibly debased.
Bill English has even lost his own heartland.
— Deborah Russell MP 🐝 (@BeeFaerie) June 29, 2017