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What to do with Gaurav Sharma

Written By: - Date published: 1:59 pm, August 16th, 2022 - 184 comments
Categories: labour, Parliament, parliamentary spending - Tags:

Labour’s caucus will meet today to discuss what to do about Gaurav Sharma.

The eventual conclusion I think is fairly predictable.  Putting aside what happened last week the level of shitfuckery involved in doing a confidential text dump on social media at the very time your leader is giving a post cabinet press conference is exceedingly high.

The latest texts do not really add anything.  There is no context, the time and the sender is unknown.  But releasing them shows considerable disrespect.  For all MPs the message should be if you never want to see a private text on the front page of the Herald do not send it.

There is also a high degree of snowflakery about this.  Like it or not Parliament depends on a high level of control.  The job is a bit like law.  You have to be prepared.  You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to be very careful with what you say.  A few misplaced words can be the difference between winning and losing a case.

Parliament is not the place where you sit around and hold hands and sing kumbaya.  It is a dog eat dog place where the pressure is intense and mistakes are punished.

Work pressures are high.  The expectation is that for three days during the sitting week extended hours will be worked by everyone.

Sure it needs to become more family friendly and recent steps taken by the Government following the release of the Francis Report are improving things.    Bullying of staff was far too common and staff are now being empowered to ensure this did not happen.

Sharma ought to realise this.  His claims of bullying appear to relate directly to the whips not agreeing to do to his staff actions which in my view would amount to bullying.  Treating staff in such a way that they need counselling, isolating them from other staff, reducing them to tears and preventing them from discussing things with their manager is on the face of it totally unacceptable.

I can’t see a peaceful negotiated solution to this.

Update:  The Labour caucus will give it a go.  Sharma’s membership of caucus is suspended but there is to be mediation and a review in December.

Some comments from Ardern:

Ardern said, based on the documents she has reviewed, the Labour whip’s office and Parliamentary Service began working with Sharma to address concerns raised about his staff management. He was then asked to work with a mentor, which he objected to.

“Finally agreement was reached at the end of last year. Further issues were later raised by additional staff members including those in his direct employment, This resulted in another pause on hirinig and again coaching, mentoring and temporary staff in the meantime.

“Gaurav again objected to this intervention and the need for his future hiring of staff or undertakings on his part. A protracted process ensued.”

She has consistently refused suggestions that bullying is a widespread problem within the party.

She said Sharma’s status would be reviewed in December, to allow a chance for a return to caucus if trust with him was able to be restored.

“But in making the decision to suspend, caucus were clear that the team retains the right to revisit the decision at any time if the rules continue to be broken. To be clear, the caucus’ decision was squarely focused on actions over the last few days. What gave rise to those actions also deserves some reflection.”

184 comments on “What to do with Gaurav Sharma ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Mr. Sharma says in the paper he might not be able to make the meeting because he has other commitments.

    "…Speaking to the Herald at midday, Sharma said he was hoping to attend the caucus meeting but said he may miss it, given he had prior commitments…"

    Good on him, he is hoping to attend. He might be able to squeeze it in. You know, because the PM is nowhere near as busy as Gaurav and clearly spends most of her time twiddling her thumbs in the beehive. He’ll do his best though to attend the special caucus. The highly unusual one he is the cause of. Heroes like Gaurav are like that. The special caucus called where every one of his colleagues, including the PM and senior cabinet ministers, have had to drop their prior commitments to attend, well Gaurav might be able to find time in his calendar for them. For the caucus called specifically to discuss Gaurav’s complaints. That special caucus, eh? What a jolly jape does ol’ Gaurav like to lead!

    Talk about bad faith. Fuck off Gaurav.

    Still, Harry Hindenberg sympathises with him.

    • mary_a 1.1

      Of course Dr Sharma is a busy man to be able to attend the Caucus meeting.

      It seems most of his time is consumed through making Facebook posts accusing the Labour party whips of bullying him!

    • Psycho Milt 1.2

      To be fair, if I'd shat on them all from a great height the way he has, I'd be finding reasons not to turn up myself.

  2. LibertyBelle 2

    What to do with Gaurav Sharma?

    Not hold secret meetings to talk about someone who is accusing you of bullying.

    • Shanreagh 2.1

      I'm sure he and you are right…….NOT.

      If there have been meetings then I would be betting that they are between fed-up other MPs talking about a what a mess and seeking a way forward. Some will be talking to each other to get a common position so that the Caucus meeting itself is not bogged down by each every other MP having their individual say.

      They may even have had some virtual fish & chips. wink

      • LibertyBelle 2.1.1

        The headline of the article, and the original article itself, claimed that it was a 'secret caucus meeting', so it does seem formal and arranged.

        The article appears to be being updated almost as I write. The article now has this;

        "The NZ Herald understands MPs met at 8pm, but Sharma says he was not told of the meeting. He found out about it after a message – including a photo of Kelvin Davis on the zoom call – was sent to him by mistake. "Apparently caucus had a full meeting at 8pm yesterday with all members except me and the decision was predetermined," Sharma said in a text message sent to NZME.""

        So someone within caucus sent him a photo of the zoom call 'by mistake'!

    • Sacha 2.2

      He does seem to love a conspiracy theory.

      Stuff's equivalent article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/129584819/labour-mp-gaurav-sharma-claims-the-party-met-last-night-todays-outcome-premeditated

      Gaurav Sharma claims Labour MPs met late last night to discuss his fate with the party, and today’s official caucus meeting will reveal their “premeditated” position.

      How he knows it was all MPs except him is somehow not mentioned. Senior cabinet ministers would never have zoom calls together at 8pm otherwise..

      • Sacha 2.2.1

        And him releasing material yesterday during the PM's media session was just a coincidence..

        Sharma strongly denied timing the post with Ardern's press conference, claiming he wasn't following the news closely and he was often unaware of when she had such engagements.

        • observer

          That alone is enough to disqualify him as an MP.

          The post-Cabinet press conference long predates Ardern (English, Key, Clark – it was a weekly fixture).

          If he genuinely doesn't know Cabinet meets on Monday, he is so clueless he can't possibly work in that place. (Presumably he does know and he's fibbing, but we're supposed to take him at his word, right?).

        • LibertyBelle

          Yep, timed for maximum damage. He's on a mission, there's no doubt about that.

          • Louis

            On a mission to destroy his short political career.

            • alwyn

              He would certainly seem to be succeeding in that exercise.

              Tau Henare did something similar though when he was part of New Zealand First and was reincarnated in 2005 so perhaps there may be future prospects for him.

            • LibertyBelle

              Yes. And in his own mind maybe some others with it.

        • Louis

          I call bull on that. I don't believe him.

        • Sacha


        • Louis

          Doesnt say all mps though.

          • LibertyBelle


            • Louis

              So, the claim was that it included all mps. Turns out not all attended and it wasn't a formal caucus meeting.

              • LibertyBelle

                Who claimed all MP's attended? And why does it matter? Not all caucus members attended todays meeting either.

                • Louis

                  It was an informal meeting. Those in NZ did, they rearranged their schedule for the formal caucus meeting on Tuesday.

                  • LibertyBelle

                    The meeting was organised by party whips and everyone in caucus was invited except the one being discussed. It doesn't matter what you call it or how you try to spin it.

              • Belladonna

                All, except Sharma, were invited.

                • LibertyBelle

                  Exactly. Surely the correct approach would have been to hear Sharma out, then meet afterwards to decide his fate.

                  • Louis

                    The formal caucus meeting on Tuesday, Sharma picked the time that suited him and then he didn't bother to turn up, nor would he answer numerous attempts of contact. So much for wanting to be heard. Extremely poor form on his part, and that's putting it politely.

                    • LibertyBelle

                      And because of the meeting the night before, Labour are now facing accusations of predetermined result.

                • Louis

                  It was an informal meeting.

                  • LibertyBelle

                    Organised in advance by party whips to which every member of caucus was invited except Sharma. It's tacky and unprofessional.

              • Populuxe1

                It was only a meeting a la Methode Caucasone. It's not a real caucus unless it comes from the Caucasus region of Caucasia.

        • lprent

          The all MPs was a Sharma only statement as far as I can tell…

          Probably was a zoom meeting. Senior members, whips, party officials, and possibly even some PS people. This is known as "does anyone have any suggestions of ideas about how to deal with this problem?".

          The whole caucus apart from Sharma? Nah!

          Sharma appears to be delusional and conspiracy laden as our very own cracked belle.

          Sounds like a narcissistic or paranoid personality issue.

          • LibertyBelle

            I'm not sure anyone has claimed all MP's were present (including Sharma?). But why does that even matter?

            • lprent

              I have pointed out that you appear to have problems reading before. So I have highlighted the relevant passage from the NZME live stream

              "Apparently caucus had a full meeting at 8pm yesterday with all members except me and the decision was predetermined," Sharma said in a text message sent to NZME.

              It does matter because it was a statement of fact by Sharma, which was incorrect. If you ever have a look at the way things like defamation law operate – making up facts tend to be how you lose a case. Sharma hasn’t expressed this as a supposition, speculation or opinion. He has expressed it like a troll would – an assertion of false fact.

              This also sounds like what parliamentary services has bee dealing with in the way that he treats their employees. Basically it appears that Sharma invents facts and lies whenever he has a chance.

              Not a doctor I’d like working on me. I wonder what his work record outside parliament is like?

              Sounds like this what actually happened.

              Ardern confirmed there was a Monday meeting without Sharma, which he found out about after a screenshot of the meeting was accidentally shared. Sharma shared the screenshot with journalists.

              Labour MPs wanted a “safe space” where they could talk freely, Ardern said, which was why Sharma wasn’t there.


              • LibertyBelle

                "It does matter because it was a statement of fact by Sharma, which was incorrect."

                You’re splitting hairs, in a desperate attempt to play this down. It doesn't matter a jot whether every MP was in attendance. Not every MP attended today's meeting either.

          • Belladonna

            Nope. Ardern confirmed at the standup, that all Labour MPs, except Sharma, were invited to yesterday's zoom meeting (not all were able to attend – no doubt conflicts, and some outside NZ).

            Justification was that the caucus need to discuss, without Sharma present, and that they didn't trust him not to leak the results.

            I think it's a pretty shaky justification.

            • lprent

              Not really. This is pretty common in workplace issues.

              You offer a non-formal place where people can come to if they feel strongly enough about something. Sometimes for employment issues at a team or group level.

              More commonly for a two-way on upcoming changes.

              My employers for the last decade have been doing these via networks. I attended one this afternoon at 1600 for the engineering team.

              I also do a standup with my work team every morning for about 15 minutes.

              The real difference is that these were pretty uncommon before network tech was easy. Now they are the norm. It is herding together in formal meetings that is a bit weird.

              I'd point out that engineering team is scattered around NZ, and the US. My team is scattered between Auckland, Hamilton and arts of the Waikato, and if it follows my last employment – will spread wider.

              My previous company project weekly standups were typically between NZ, US, UK, and Aussie – and trying to get a UTC time point was a total pain. My team standups were all over NZ.

              They also used to have monthly ‘where are we going’ that covered the whole globe. But done as two meeting times. But that was a corp with thousands of employees.

              Offhand I can’t recall informal meeting called about other team members behaviour that was called with the person in question present.

              That was done only in formal sessions.

              • Belladonna

                Not at all common, I don't think, in terms of performance or HR issues.

                If, let us say, I had a serious problem with my team, and a formal disciplinary meeting was called. If I found out, that everyone in my team and the management had been invited to a meeting (whether zoom or actual) the evening before specifically to discuss the issue without me being present, I would be very much inclined to think this was pre-judgement and not a fair process.

                What could be discussed at the meeting last night, that could not be discussed with Sharma present, today?

                It's played right into his hands, in enabling him to point at this and say 'pre-judgement' 'I've been railroaded'. At the very least, it's bad PR.

                I agree that zoom (or the software of your choice) meetings are a standard business tool now – but it's the question of how appropriate the meeting was at all, not the methodology that’s the issue.

                • Sacha

                  Pre-meetings can discuss process without making decisions.

                  Ardern in her media session repeated several times that other MPs did not feel able to be frank in a full caucus meeting because Sharma had been publicising details of their meetings. That was his doing.

                • Shanreagh

                  As the PM said quite a few times today at the press conference the meeting last night was to provide a safe space to talk without the fear that Dr Sharma would leak the process/results etc.

                  Sharma was invited to suggest a time for todays meeting which he did, finally, only then to not attend. He made himself incommunicado later so PM was not able to get hold of him. Not the actions of a person who is doing anything other than playing around.

              • Anne

                This is pretty common in workplace issues.

                Of course it is.

                I recall an informal workplace meeting in a Public Service Office years ago when a manager was undermining and upsetting staff. We held it after hours to discuss the situation and what we should do about it. We decided to give him a bit more leeway and if he didn't mend his ways to bring in the PSA. He did temporarily but eventually we went to the PSA over a specific issue.

                To suggest such an action as "pretty shaky justification" is in itself a shaky conclusion. How else are staff/MPs supposed to come to an understanding without the opportunity to discuss things first.

                • Belladonna

                  That's what the caucus meeting was supposed to be for. To hear all sides of the issue, and form a consensus.
                  In the event, it was somewhat of a moot exercise – since Sharma chose not to attend.

                  • Shanreagh

                    You forget the impact of a leaker on a fact finding exercise…….

                    How would you have managed this?

                    The Caucus meeting was today. Dr Sharma chose not to attend as was his right.

                • Shanreagh

                  Agree with you. We have also had after hours meetings & some coffee bar in office hours meetings about restructurings and the processes around them foisted on us by some managers that did not accord with the usual process. Only those who had a problem were invited or got to know of them. This was so that rather than being able to pick us off one by one we had an understanding of the policy and support to decline to participate in a process that did not follow this process.

                  The lack of trust that is caused by leakers is terrible in a fraught situation. The fact that some of the Labour MPs wanted to participate in a meeting where they knew things would not be leaked is understandable.

    • Belladonna 2.3

      I have to agree. If it is true that the Labour caucus held a zoom meeting last night, to which all MPs except Sharma were invited – then this is an exceedingly bad look.

      If, on the other hand, it was a briefing meeting for the cabinet – and perhaps some legal advice from the Party – then that's a different story. Still not highly desirable, but definitely understandable from a political management perspective (making sure that all of the information is shared across the leadership team). Still not good from a PR perspective, though.

      It will be interesting to see which it turns out to be.

      • Nordy 2.3.1

        When you say 'not good from a PR perspective', are you suggesting good process should not occur because some might not like what it 'looks like'? I suggest you wait until the facts are known, rather than join the ill-informed speculation fed all along by Sharma.

        • Louis

          yes Nordy

        • Belladonna

          Nope. I'm saying that front-footing this would be a much better look.

          If it is, indeed, just a zoom meeting of the leadership, then:

          A quick statement from Ardern's press secretary, confirming that a small leadership team zoom meeting was held at 8pm (or whenever), to ensure that the background briefing was in place prior to the caucus meeting tomorrow.
          It would have been even better if they could have said it was a regularly scheduled meeting, which briefly discussed the background to the caucus issue, before addressing the regular agenda. (Implying that this is not a major issue).

          PR is about ensuring that your message is out there. It's always a bad idea to leave information gaps – that's how you get 'ill-informed speculation'

          And the perception has been left (no doubt fostered by Sharma) that the Labour caucus is plotting behind his back, having deliberately excluded him from the meeting. And, leading to his claim, that today's meeting is just a 'show trial' – with a pre-judged outcome.

      • LibertyBelle 2.3.2

        " If it is true that the Labour caucus held a zoom meeting last night, to which all MPs except Sharma were invited – then this is an exceedingly bad look."

        That seems to be confirmed, and the meeting was being planned on Monday.

        "If, on the other hand, it was a briefing meeting for the cabinet – and perhaps some legal advice from the Party – then that's a different story."

        It would be entirely appropriate for a smaller leadership group to be managing this (perhaps not the entire cabinet), including seeking advice, and then report back to the wider caucus.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 2.3.3

        It will be interesting to see which it turns out to be.

        Could turn out to be your "exceedingly bad look", or your "Still not highly desirable… Still not good from a PR perspective…" look, or some other 'look'.

        When this type of ‘bruised ego bomb‘ goes off, a day is a loooong time in politics, imho.

        • Belladonna

          Not quite sure where you're going with this one.
          It's been quite a bit longer than a day – and not showing signs of 'dying' yet.

          And has been hitting international headlines around the world.

          There is no way that any of this is a good look for the Labour Party.

          Seriously, do you think Ardern wanted the media coverage over the last few days to be focused on the levels of bullying going on with her MPs?

          Even if all the fault is with Sharma, he's still a Labour MP, they selected him.

          • LibertyBelle

            Sharma claims there are other MP's who have told him they have been bullied. Now he could be blowing hot air, but then one Labour MP has talked to OneNews:

            "Another Labour Party MP, who did not wish to be named, said there were bullying issues within the party, as well as Parliament. They told 1News a conduct commissioner is crucial to getting to the bottom of the concerns raised this week."

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            Thanks Belladonna, just observing that you're (much) more exercised here about the fallout from the Sharma drama than you were about the Uffindell affair.

            Sorry if that's unwelcome, but I believe it to be fair – how about you? wink

            • lprent

              Don't you realise that it is offensive to trolls some people to actually look at their hypocritical behaviour.

              They prefer to be the only people who can sit in judgement on others. This is the Mrs Grundy effect.

              • Belladonna

                Pot, Kettle.

                • lprent

                  There is a slight difference between someone whose role is to enforce site rules and to moderate behaviour, and between someone whose only role is as a guest on the site.

                  I act in both roles, and it is usually pretty clear which one I'm using. I’m directive and judgemental in one, and the other I am merely argumentative.

                  Perhaps you should explain what you mean clearly.

                  Because at present I'm wondering which role you are addressing. My usual practice when a statement is ambiguous is to assume that it is a barb directed to me as a moderator.

                  I suggest that you make it clear in future which role you are trying to address by making your accusation quite clear. Because one mode is humourless, doesn’t like being baited and only reads what you actually say and takes offence easily. The other tends to ‘expand’ with examples.

                  But it is always hard to figure out which role to fall into with only two words. And you wouldn’t like the default.

                  • Belladonna

                    Your comment was pretty clearly addressed to me from the perspective of a participant, rather than a moderator. I replied in kind.

                    Referring to someone as a troll, (no matter how humorously intended) is not exactly moderator behaviour – unless you're actually going on to give them a mod note, calling something specific to their attention.

                    I endeavour to be a respectful centrist in my comments on TS. I recognize that some more zealous left wing commenters here find that perspective difficult to take.

                    However, if you only listen to the choir, you'll never know what's going on outside the church.

                    • lprent

                      But I crossed out the troll – don't you have a sense of humour – as I get told at least once a week when I’m moderating?

                      You might call yourself a centrist. I am myself. Since that comprises about 80% of the whole electorate that isn't exactly definitive. That is roughly the number of people who will vote for both of centre parties over their lifetime based on past probabilities.

                      During my lifetime in political interest I’ve seen the type of things regarded as being centrist ranging from the socialism of Muldoon to the what Prebble and Douglas thought was socialism and enthusiastically picked up by Richardson. It is hardly a position – more of wide and vast chasm of claims.

                      However the point that Drowsy M. Kram raised is pretty valid. I seem to recall you making light of the selection process that allowed someone making an assault and saying some pretty heinous things to a flatmate becoming an MP – and this not being considered in the selection process – because it wasn't made clear to those making the selection.

                      Personally I'm just as pissed off about that as I am by Labour selecting someone who doesn't understand the bounds and due process of their relationship with the staff that he works with. The type of issues that have been coming out with Sharma and his relationship with parliamentary services staff simply doesn't happen in isolation. You can pretty well guess that there will be more spalling off about Sharma – just as it did with member for Tauranga.

                      I can understand how such self-entitled bullshit comes out of the Nats….. But Labour usually catches it at selection.

                      And Belladonna… You do realise that I usually don't bother to just pointing out a behaviour change that a guest should be aware of.

                      I usually just make it very clear what isn't tolerated towards my moderators, writers or the site.

                      Not to mention that I’m a strong proponent of military, technocratic, economically conservative, socially progressive, and very green in a scientific sort of a way. I also hate specialised loopholes like the wasted capital fostered by our hole in capital gains tax.

                      Most of the left here and green would consider me to be quite conservative and right wing.

                  • Belladonna

                    "However the point that Drowsy M. Kram raised is pretty valid. I seem to recall you making light of the selection process that allowed someone making an assault and saying some pretty heinous things to a flatmate becoming an MP – and this not being considered in the selection process – because it wasn't made clear to those making the selection."

                    Please link to this assertion. I don't recall making any such comment, and am unable to find anything even remotely similar in searching TS (using my handle and Uffindell as the search criteria)

                    DMK's assertion was that I was fairly silent on Uffindell.
                    Which is true. Partly because I didn't have anything specific to contribute (I don't find 'me too' posts at all helpful), and partly because I was working a couple of 80-hour weeks, plus family commitments.

                    I certainly wasn't 'pro' him, and none of my comments were at all favourable. The closest was pointing out that bullying is still going on in schools, and that current policy actually favours the bully, rather than the victim.

                    • lprent

                      I'm doing those kinds of weeks myself once you add in the extra house hunting and things associated with it.

                      But you are correct now that I looked at it. The comments I was thinking of came from someone else. My apology for the hypocrisy question.

                      But I am curious about why you have been so much more active comment wise with the Sharma unsubstantiated allegations against PS and Labour party on matters that appear to be almost entirely about staffing and how it has been handled. Because that is all that they have been once you strip away the rhetoric.

                      Whereas the allegations against Uffindell have corroborated by other witnesses, and speak to the same underlying issues.

                      Both raise questions about the suitability of a MP for the role and the selection processes, and about informing selectors and voters in their decision making.

                      What also gets me with Sharmas allegations is that show a clear lack of understanding of how parliamentary staffing is done and who has a say. Since that is one of the topics that is extensively covered by the Labour candidate/elected briefings and their introduction to parliament. I find this pretty damn odd. I'm left wondering is if Sharma attended them.

                      Now you could argue that it has to do with bullying to Sharma at parliament. But I can't see that in any part of Sharma's claims. Parliamentary Services deal with staff employment issues. The whips deal with the MP.

                      Sharma appears to be saying in essence that parliamentary services shouldn't interfere between him and his staff, and that the whips should get what he wants rather than advising him about his poor behaviour to staff and what he should do to change it.

                      It just sounds ridiculously self-entitled and self-centred to me. Which is exactly what Uffindell's younger and possibly current behaviour sounds like to me.

                      I don't really want either of them to be MPs from what I can see.

            • Belladonna

              It's called bringing perspective.

              Don't support Uffindell. Didn't have anything else to add to the pile on, already going on on TS.

              Not a particularly useful contribution IMHO to be saying 'me too' – to a whole lot of comments. YMMV.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                It's called bringing perspective.

                From my left perspective/bias, sunshine lifts the lid – don’t know about mileage wink

                • Belladonna

                  Yep, plenty of pro-Labour bias on display under this issue.

                  Glad to see your colours firmly nailed to the mast.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Glad to see your colours firmly nailed to the mast.

                    Good that you care – as should we all, imho. A “centrist“, you say wink

                  • LibertyBelle

                    I don't quite understand centrists. How do you even define the centre?

                    • Belladonna

                      Those of us who find rabid partisanship (my party right or wrong) fairly distasteful.
                      A bit like the way old C of E regarded pentecostalist religions.

                      [Yes, that's tongue in cheek, and hopefully not treading on the religious sensibilities of anyone present]

                      Generally we don't fit inside the 'box' of a standard party adherent. There are some elements of a party's political suite of policies we like, and others we fervently dislike.

                      At election time, you spend a lot of time weighing up good and evil, and casting your vote for the 'lesser evil'.

                    • LibertyBelle

                      Belladonna…thanks. I consider myself right of centre, and yet all of that resonates with me. smiley

                    • Belladonna

                      Well, I think if you're right of centre – then the parties where you're finding policies which resonate, are probably the more rightist ones (National/Act).

                      If you're a centrist, then you'll be finding policies of which you approve in Labour/Green as well.

                      There are certainly uncommitted left voters, too – who find that most of the policies they agree with are Green/Labour – but don't strongly identify with the party – they probably float between the two (or even further left) depending on the policy environment at the time of the election.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    "Hated by all sides", and courted by all political parties – the centre will hold a little longer, but not forever, imho.

                    • roblogic

                      When the status quo is hundreds of thousands homeless and in dire poverty, and workers rights demolished, and nurses, cops, teachers underpaid and unable to afford housing in NZ, and a misinformed underclass amassing on Parliament grounds and crying out in pain, ugly as it was…

                      Centrism is just a shitty passive acceptance of 40 years of repulsive Rogernomics, quite a useless position IMNSHO

              • Robert Guyton

                There's another "pile-on" here on TS, Belladonna – LibertyBelle et al are piling-on to the Labour Party, using Sharma as their stalking-horse. Are you not averse to that gang-up as well?

                • Belladonna

                  Seems to be mostly, LB (with a few other commentators calling for a 'wait and see' approach, before condemning Sharma outright). I don't think that one commentator, no matter how prolific, can be called a pile on.

                  There has, of course, been a pile on against Sharma on TS. Mostly incensed by his 'disloyalty to the Party' – to the point where commentators are questioning his sanity.

                  While, very naturally, a LW blog expresses support for LW parties, as well as policies; the level of 'loyalty conditioning' expressed by some of the commenters is something that makes me very uncomfortable.

            • Patricia Bremner

              devilyes Oh yesDrowsy M Kram… Took the words right out of my mouth.!!

    • Louis 2.4

      Got proof of that?

    • Darien Fenton 2.5

      You need to ask why his caucus colleagues were afraid to speak openly in front of him.

  3. mary_a 3

    Make him an offer he can't refuse!

  4. Peter 4

    Sharma sounds like a drama queen.

    "Sharma today told the Herald he was unsure whether he would make today's afternoon meeting, given he had other engagements.

    However, he expressed his desire to have a "fair trial".

    So there's a vital meeting concerning his situation, absolutely critical, he calls it a "trial," and he might be a bit busy to be there. He had "very short notice" of the meeting, only being told between 5-6pm yesterday.

    He sounds like a real poseur, the sort in a ball sport who won't pass the ball to an unmarked player certain to score, wanting to be the hero himself but then coming a gutser.

    We're short of doctors, we're not short of useless, prima donna MPs. He should bugger off.


  5. Sacha 5

    Creativity (click on picture to see whole panel)

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    If Labour want to salvage Sharma, which they are more likely to want from principle than in respect of his contribution, then he will be asked to submit to a process whereby his allegations are examined in a press-free environment, perhaps with an experienced labour lawyer conciliating to explain why the party takes particular positions. During this time he should breathe through his nose.

    If he can bite his tongue long enough to learn why he's on the outer, and knuckles down to do some work, he may be redeemed. But if he insists on seeking validation in the press, or from various opposition persons whose sympathy is in inverse proportion to his value to his own party, then Labour cannot keep him.

    I have the impression that he is shaken, and acting intemperately at present. Korean public figures in comparable situations often take a retreat until they recover sufficient equanimity to avoid obvious pitfalls.

  7. Belladonna 7

    Ardern announced that Sharma is suspended immediately from the Labour caucus – initially until December.

    Sharma not present at the meeting.

    Continues as Labour MP for Hamilton West – so not invoking the waka jumping legislation (at this time). Might be reviewed.

    Mediation between Sharma and the Whips is offered.

    • LibertyBelle 7.1

      Well get the popcorn, because that is an invitation for Sharma to go nuclear.

      • lprent 7.1.1

        Problem for Sharma is that he is

        • A very junior and new MP – ie has nothing newsworthy apart from watching him splatter his irrelevance everywhere. He wasn't a whip like the the last splatter that fell out of National – Jamie Lee Ross
        • Appears to be a victim of his own complete inability to handle staff. If he was a doctor, then I guess he was run by his NCOs in the nursing staff. Or ny the managerial staff that often prop up doctors
        • Basically he simply isn't interesting. As far as I can tell – just someone who hasn't measured up as a MP.
        • LibertyBelle

          That may all be correct (and I tend to agree it is), but the 'splatter' is all over Labour, and that can only get worse.

          • lprent

            Compared to what?

            Jami Lee Ross – the ex-whip currently dragging the National party donation regime through the courts. Now that was splatter…

            The tall dipshit assaulter of kids and shouter at flatmates that National currently has in their caucus?

            Or my favourite the similarly self-entitled first time MP – Arron Gilmore.

            Offhand the nearest I can think of for Labour was Chris Carter slipping notes under the doors of the parliamentary press gallery.

            PS: please tell me if we should find you links so you can catch up on parliamentary history.

            • LibertyBelle

              Compared to the last few days. Sharma now has a choice. He can either go quiet, take his medicine and his salary until he loses the electorate nomination for 2023, or he can keep digging. I'm picking he's going to keep digging. What does he have to lose?

              Edit – national have splatter everywhere. But today’s headlines aren’t covering those are they?

              • Sacha

                What does he have to lose?

                A defamation case if he continues to lie about his colleagues and staff.

              • lprent

                Nothing. But that really isn't the issue.

                How much damage could this person do to Labour. Obviously not very much – he simply doesn't have the experience and clearly has little to no respect by the people who have had to work with him.

                I can't detect any political smoke from this, and I have had a lot of experience with sniffing for it on this site and with media.

                For me it simply means that it is a day or two where I keep a closer eye on the site to deal with outright trolling – so that a moderately robust discussion is allowed to carry on.

                The public as a whole generally doesn't care that much about MPs – they pretty much ignore them as much as they can. So it circulates within the small bounds of NZ politically interested.

                Helps to distract attention from the MP from Tauranga for National.

                But for all political parties these kinds of things are distractions from whatever they're trying to do because they're noisy for a few days (unless it a senior politician), when trying to push a message into the a public that usually doesn't give a shit.

                • Belladonna

                  I agree, I doubt very much that Sharma has much left in the shot locker. And suspending him from caucus, while not booting him from Parliament, means Labour have effectively sidelined him, and starved him of oxygen.

                  Much as JL Ross was an annoying mosquito rather than a serious problem, as a lame-duck Independent for the balance of his term. [His claims of 'hard' evidence evaporated under media scrutiny]

                  Labour don't want a bye-election ATM – which would only give more media coverage to the issue. So will be likely to reign in any demands to expel him from Parliament.

                  The media reports of man-in-the-street interviews in Hamilton West – basically saying 'who?' when asked their opinion, were fairly funny.


                  • Louis

                    National do not want a by-election either.

                    • Belladonna

                      Why not?
                      They'd probably love one in Hamilton West – almost certain to return to National (the 2020 result returning Sharma was a fluke caused by the Jacinda bounce) – especially on the current polling, and with the local Labour party expressing support for Sharma (so divided loyalties for another candidate).

                      Or do you mean in Tauranga? (If Uffindell is found to have more skeletons in his closet than already disclosed). In which case, they'd better have their candidate selection totally squeaky clean – but would be highly unlinkely to lose.

                • LibertyBelle

                  "Helps to distract attention from the MP from Tauranga for National."

                  Of course, but then national have to deal with that eventually. Sharma has just starved that issue of oxygen for the time being.

      • Robert Guyton 7.1.2

        More likely, damp squib.

    • roy cartland 7.2

      She's doing well in the standup, but she is pissed!

      • Nordy 7.2.1

        Yes, very good explanation by the PM of the atrocious behaviour of Sharma and the valid concerns of caucus leading to the decision to suspend him. He has let down caucus, breached the rules/trust of caucus and now faces the appropriate consequences. The ball is in his caught as to whether he wants to part of the caucus or not.

      • swordfish 7.2.2

        She’s doing well in the standup, but she is pissed!

        Suggesting the Prime Minister was exceedingly drunk during a stand up is a very serious allegation indeed … I hope you can either back that up with solid evidence or confirm that you watch far too many vapid American sit-coms & have subsequently adopted the US lexicon with as much gusto as your average peer-pressured teen.

        • pat


        • Psycho Milt

          I blame the Americans.

        • Shanreagh

          Yes, SF I was always telling my US flatmate not to use this phrase in NZ as it had a different meaning to the US……always put the 'off' in if you are talking about mood.

          Leave 'off' the off if you are talking about the joys of spring.

          It really grates on me.

          Mind you having had thoughts of past bullying revived by an indication that Dr Sharma was concerning himself about where & how the fridge magnets were stored has made me grumpy. It was this reach into arcane and obscure aspects of my job that the bully who bullied me used.

          PS How are things with you?

        • Nic the NZer

          Just waiting for pronouns to be updated on facebook now, and then Bomber can get to his winners and losers post.

          • Nic the NZer

            Bomber does now seem to have worked out how the woke are responsible for Dr Sharma's face-book meltdown and written that up so that it becomes public knowledge. I think its a stretch and have mostly seen only what seem to be socially National supporters really calling for a bullying of Sharma investigation (on the basis of what seems to be, well here is a live example of Labour do it too).

            But as you can see, its not so much of a stretch that I thought Bomber would skip it as part of his morning warm up routine.

            And if your going to get pissy about different inter-regional language use you will be subbing on for team woke in the very near future.

        • roy cartland

          Someone had a post with "assholes" in the title, so I just rolled with the Standard standard. I don't watch "situation comedies", nor compare myself to teenagers.

        • roy cartland

          Well, since the Standard standard is to use "asshole" in its posts, I just follow the fine example.

          Actually, first saw it in the Running Man; (a 20th Century moving picture, "check it out" when you arrive in the era, Maester Swerdfysche). I don't tend to watch many situation comedies, much less with teenagers.

  8. Leighton 8

    One can't help but observe that despite all the "dumps" of communications we’ve had out of Sharma, none of it comes close to evidencing the type of aggressive bullying which he claims is rife. I assume that if he is willing to selectively leak private communications he would put his best case forward in doing so. So either what we have seen is all there is (i.e. not much of anything) or Labour was extremely careful and made sure all their bullying was done in-person/verbally without leaving any tracks. Place your bets.

    • lprent 8.1

      There probably wasn't anything that people would recognise as 'bullying'.

      It sounds like he got into a dispute with parliamentary services about how he was treating staff. He tried to use the Labour party whips to bypass process – who essentially told him that they didn't have much power over PS staff – and that he needed to change his behaviour.

      I’d bet that everyone got sick of him acting like a prima donna, and at some point told him to stop wasting their time and probably to fuck off and go through the correct channels.

      I'd like to hear from his staff more than I'd want to hear from him. It is already quite clear that he enhances the 'truth' to be based less on facts than it is on how he'd like to view his own importance.

      Reminds me of that National dipshit MP who tried to importantly bloat himself in front of waiters… ummm Aaron Gilmore – now being sued by his parents

      Disgraced former MP taken to court by his parents over $250,000 loan

      • solkta 8.1.1

        Parliamentary Service, it is Parliamentary Service. It is not plural.

      • Anne 8.1.2

        I’d bet that everyone got sick of him acting like a prima donna, and at some point told him to stop wasting their time and probably to fuck off and go through the correct channels.

        I'd have told him to… piss off, you're a pain in the neck.

        The PM noted she had had several communications initiated by the other new MPs but none from Sharma. That would be because he regarded himself as superior to her and didn't need her ministrations. Narcissistic p***k.

  9. observer 9

    Well, I just watched the PM's press conference, and nobody can pretend any more that Sharma has not been given every opportunity.

    (I know we don't all have a free half hour to waste on an obscure MP, but it's far better to go to the source than a mediated or misleading version of what Ardern has said).

    He will no doubt do what he wants to gain more media coverage, but the PM (and government and party) doesn't need to waste any more time on him.

    • LibertyBelle 9.1

      Do you not think that inviting a person, who is alleging bullying, to a meeting with a large and antagonistic caucus is likely to look like, ahhh, bullying?

      • Darien Fenton 9.1.1

        It's how it works. These are colleagues not masters or bosses.

        • LibertyBelle

          Why didn't the Labour leadership deal with this by way of an investigation and then via a disciplinary committee. The perception is appalling.

      • observer 9.1.2

        No. An MP is in a caucus. By definition.

        See countless previous cases of errant MPs in various parties.

      • Nordy 9.1.3

        No – it's called due process. He answers to the group he is part of…given he felt he could slag them all off on social media. If he was actually concerned about antagonising caucus he could have chosen not to antagonise them. Its also called accountability. The alleged bullying he has raised is clearly a case of projection – not uncommon with bullies.

        • LibertyBelle

          Due process would be to investigate his claims. Holding secret meetings is not due process, it is underhanded.

          • Nordy

            Wrong again. Available Labour MPs met to raise questions understand how they could talk about their concerns when one of their members had flagrantly and repeatedly breached of caucus trust/rules. It was not a caucus meeting. Obviously they would not invite Sharma to that discussion. The meeting made no decisions in relation to Sharma. They were made today. You seem determined to ignore the facts about Sharma (and his allegations). It is clear he was not bullied. Do you have a problem with individuals being held to account for their actions, in particular making baseless allegations of bullying to deflect from their own problems?

            • LibertyBelle

              "You seem determined to ignore the facts about Sharma (and his allegations)."

              No, not at all. I have no idea whether Sharma's claims are true or false.

              "Do you have a problem with individuals being held to account for their actions,"

              Not at all. But process matters. The meeting last night was secret, and every caucus member was invited, except Sharma.

              Labour have handled this very badly. They now have a disgruntled MP who is playing them to a yapping media who don't actually give a stuff whether or not his claims are true. And now they have added the appearance of today's decision being pre-determined.

              • observer

                Absent any polling, we can only offer conjecture on public opinion, but based on a very unscientific overview, I'd say it's been something like …

                Last Thursday, story breaks: "Sounds bad, this guy is a victim and good on him for being a whistle-blower"

                Today: "Is he still going on about being a victim? Yawn."

                As just one example, note that the very phrase "whistle-blower" is fading from the commentary – as reporters discovered the other side of the story.

                If he was a smart operator this might be damaging Labour. Fortunately, he isn't. He vacated the moral high ground at remarkable speed.

                • LibertyBelle

                  I'm coming to the view you're correct about Sharma. The fall out? Not so sure. It's the good thing about leaning towards one of the smaller parties, sitting back and watching the big guys and girls fighting over this stuff.smiley

          • Robert Guyton

            Your comments are puerile, Libertybelle, and your position untenable.

          • Sacha

            What makes you think they did not investigate his claims?

            • Robert Guyton

              Her need to sow the seeds of doubt?

            • LibertyBelle

              The fact that they would have used the results of that investigation to refute the bullying claims if they were false.

              • Sacha

                Maintaining staff privacy was a consideration. Perhaps watch Ardern's media conference below.

                • LibertyBelle

                  I watched it. I've not seen any indication that Sharma's accusations of bullying have been investigated.

                  • Peter

                    You've not seen any indication that the main players drank coffee yesterday either. Does that mean none of them did?

                    • LibertyBelle

                      I think it's fair to say that if the accusations had been investigated, we would know.

      • Psycho Milt 9.1.4

        Tell me you don't know what a political party is or how it works without saying you don't know.

        • LibertyBelle

          Political Parties do not all operate in the same way. But the one thing they all have in common is they hate public display's of disunity. This has been rolling for 5(?) days now, and is still headline news.

          • Psycho Milt

            They do, which is why they've suspended him. And yet, despite how he's fucked them over, they've left him a path back in if he learns not to shit on the party in public. It's the kind of thing you need to get together in advance to discuss.

            • LibertyBelle

              They could have talked to him first and then gone and made their decision(s). That would have been seen to be doing the right thing. I think last nights meeting was grubby, but who cares. What matters is that they've given him an excuse not to turn up today, the headlines tonight say Labour have suspended an MP, and the allegations of bullying still have legs.

              • Psycho Milt

                They seem to have talked to him at length already, and much good it did them. As to the allegations of bullying, they seem to amount to him complaining that the whips not only wouldn't improperly step in to help him mistreat his staff, they actively told him not to mistreat his staff and that he clearly needed mentoring in how to manage staff. I wish him luck peddling that one, he'll need it.

                • LibertyBelle

                  "They seem to have talked to him at length already"

                  Clearly not successfully. This could be either a rogue individual with a sense of entitlement and zero understanding of how to conduct himself, or a genuinely disgruntled individual who has been bullied and victimised by an overbearing culture. More likely than not it's somewhere in between.

                  • newsense

                    Gordon Campbell’s theory being he’s launching a platform as a ‘centrist’ or independent candidate for Hamilton W next election. Trying to earn rightie votes by attacking Labour and hoping he’ll split the vote enough on either side.

                    • LibertyBelle

                      If that's case, he really is delusional. Hamilton W is one of many seats that will go back to the nats in 2023.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      That makes a lot of sense.

                      National lacks intellectual heft – Sharma would effectively be a big frog in a small pond. (some would say “the shallow end of the gene pool”)

                      He lacks charisma – but so do his new colleagues.

                      He has nfi what he's doing – perfect fit 😉

                    • alwyn


                      It is Gordon Campbell who is, as usual, living in his own little fantasy world if that is what he thinks will happen.

                    • Incognito []

                      The Great Mind Reader, the Amazing Alwyn, is back at showing off his magic. Do you have any qualifications as mind reader or only as fortune teller and entrails reader?

  10. observer 10

    Also, file under "so farcical it's funny": the whips/caucus offered Sharma the chance to set the time of the meeting for his convenience, he chose it, and then didn't turn up. Didn't even respond to the PM's call/texts. Victim, schmictim.

  11. Reality 11

    Sharma has only been an MP about 21 months but very soon after was repeatedly creating havoc with his staff, at the same time always blaming others. Seems to have a very inflated opinion of himself. Wonder what his behaviour was like with his former medical colleagues.

    Jacinda once again handled the press conference superbly.

  12. Psycho Milt 13

    His claims of bullying appear to relate directly to the whips not agreeing to do to his staff actions which in my view would amount to bullying.

    I don't understand how little coverage this highly relevant information is getting.

    • observer 13.1

      Essentially because the staff are not behaving like him. They are anonymous, they do not seek the limelight, they are not throwing hand grenades and abusing trust, and for the media, there is no name/face to put in a headline.

      It is one of those stories where people are playing by very different rules, and the rule-followers don't get any credit for doing so.

  13. pat 14

    What to do do with Gaurav Sharma?….a G.P. would probably prescribe Prozac (erroneously)

  14. newsense 15

    I suspect this also may confirm that whoever had a chat with him and encouraged him to speak up this week may have also done polling on how incredibly likeable and well liked Kieran McAnulty is.

    Just a theory, but one that would have decent odds on in the context!

  15. One wonders what Dr Sharma is not telling us. Labour has made a real effort in the last 5 years to avoid publishing dirt. This sets a good example for workplace relations, but allows the RW media to run riot with one sided idiocy for days or weeks.

  16. Maurice 17

    The cat is in among the pigeons … perhaps he just joined the wrong party?

    No matter where this heads now the future probably holds pointing and laughing.

  17. rrm (yes the kiwiblog one) 18

    What to do with Dr Sharma?

    I see the open, transparent party of kindness have chosen to deal with his complaints of bullying by kicking him out.

    Perhaps the open and transparent party of kindness could take a leaf from Luxon of the "Dirty Politics" party, and hire a QC to investigate and report on the bullying he complained about?

    • Psycho Milt 18.1

      Luxon hired a QC to investigate one of his MPs who admitted to having gotten away with a violent criminal offence and only admitting it when his victim made it public. If Labour were to mount a similar investigation, it would be into Sharma's staff member's claim that he bullied his staff.

    • Incognito 18.2

      You are lying. Being suspended from caucus is not being kicked out of the party and you know this.

      As to the fake transparency of Luxon and the National Party:

      The National Party-commissioned review into bullying allegations against Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell is "private and confidential" and the report won't be made public, leader Christopher Luxon says.


      What a surprise! I guess the next review will be into how Uffindell got selected as candidate for the Tauranga by-election, which will also be secret, of course.

  18. Corey Humm 19

    Let's be real here, Labour brought in a lot of dead weight in 2020, 65 mp's that's crazy. Parties usually put people in the 50s and 60s who they don't really want or expect to get into parliament and these people are often weirdos, my cousin is Aaron Gilmore, a prime example of this

    There's a great Facelift skit about this very thing. They meet the candidates in the 60s and decide they have to start losing votes so these people don't get in parliament.

    Sharma is one of the dead weight mp's brought in in 2020 via an electoral fluke who is deeply unsuitable for parliament and a total liability to the party. At least the others are keeping their mouth shut but I'd imagine the other mps messaging him are these dead weight low rank mp's.

    The party should attack, hard and fast. His inability to retain staff and his staffs allegations of bullying against him and his clear mental instability and disloyalty to the party should be mentioned at every interview where he's brought up.

    A by-election should be called, labour and Sharma will lose it. Better a national mp than a renegade labour dead weight. Once out of parliament he loses parliamentary privilege and can be subject to law suits if he keeps running his mouth.

    Ive no doubt the party has reams of evidence on his behavior.

    This is politics. Destroy this man.

    Parties must from now on vet mps better and only put people on the party list you actually want in parliament, not "oh here's a placing this loyal party fruit loop will be proud of but thankfully its too low for them to get into parliament" cos ya never know, they might, and if they do they'll probably be a headache for the party.

    • Belladonna 19.1

      Parties must from now on vet mps better and only put people on the party list you actually want in parliament, not "oh here's a placing this loyal party fruit loop will be proud of but thankfully its too low for them to get into parliament" cos ya never know, they might, and if they do they'll probably be a headache for the party.

      While I agree with you about the list vetting, Sharma is actually an electorate MP – voted for by the people of Hamilton West. He still only got in because of the Jacinda bounce in 2020 – but his list position is irrelevant.

  19. peter sim 20

    Fulbright scholars are never wrong, sigh.

  20. coge 21

    Perhaps now isn't the best time to be taking sides..

    • Chess Player 21.1

      I think most people here took their sides a long, long time ago.

      Now it’s about justifying the position they took all those years ago.

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