Opinion

Where do we draw the line at politicians being disingenuous, hypocritical even?

Opinion: Where do we draw the line at politicians being disingenuous, hypocritical even... when it comes to personal views versus political expediency?

And given they’re capable of disingenuity and hypocrisy, how do we know when they’re telling the truth, they’ve evolved their ideas or they’re changing their position out of political self-interest?

Let’s take a look at three case studies. Christopher Luxon, Nanaia Mahuta and Efeso Collins. 

First Luxon. We know his views on abortion - it’s murder.

He’s committed - that if elected - he will not relitigate our abortion reforms. 

This is a purely political decision. If Luxon could do whatever he wanted without fear of losing votes in the centre or from women or from sensible men he would probably ban abortion. If he believes it’s murder, murderers should be criminalised. Life in prison for abortion under a hypothetical autocratic Luxon. 

But, oddly, and I slightly surprise myself here because I think his views on abortion are abhorrent, I think we can take Luxon at his word on this. 

I still don’t think a vote for Luxon is a vote for women’s rights but I don’t think they’ll necessarily slide too far backwards under him either - such is his desire to be the Prime Minister. 

So on the political porky scale - zero being a saint and 10 Machiavelli, saying and doing whatever it takes for power - Christopher Luxon sits at 6. 

Next Nanaia Mahuta. Mahuta voted against decriminalising abortion in New Zealand.

Her call. It was a conscience vote. 

But don’t then, two years later, tweet about how draconian the US removal of abortion rights is. That’s hypocritical. 

Nanaia Mahuta, you had a chance in the privileged role you help as an MP - a woman MP - to vote for human rights, vote for abortion reform, but you didn’t. Your choice but you don’t get to condemn others for doing as you did. 

I asked her office for a response to the tweet - if she’d changed her mind - and haven’t heard back, so, I reserve some judgement because we do change and evolve our views and that’s a good thing. 

But she still sits at an 8 on the political porky-o-meter. 

Finally Efeso Collins. His views on same-sex marriage have changed. He’s acknowledged the hurt his staunch and vocal opposition caused. He apologised, I rate that. 

But he seems to have only realised his views had changed ten years later when he threw his hat in the ring to be mayor of Auckland under a Labour banner.

When the gays needed him, he was using his influential position in the community to try to stymie their rights. Now, he needs the gays to get elected, suddenly he’s sorry. 

I wish I wasn’t this cynical but listen to Collins on Tangata Pasifika in 2012 on a panel arguing against gay rights.

Don’t even debate it… it’s a step too far he said.

When challenged on equality and human rights he came back with the weirdest argument against same-sex marriage…

Eh? The upshot was this… 

Using votes as a threat… arguing then that same-sex couples shouldn’t be equal under the law, now, perhaps recognising their votes are equal in the ballot box he’s changed his mind. 

A 7.5 on the political porky scale. 

Again, I applaud people who progress, change their views, recognise the impact of their words and apologise to those they’ve hurt. 

I can’t be sure about ascribing intent to all these politicians - whether it’s as cynical as it seems - and progress is progress. Let’s just not forget to keep an eye on context.