Boag: how best to deal with Gilmore

National’s former party president, PR supremo Michelle Boag, says it is the curse of MMP that National’s lowest-ranked list MP Aaron Gilmore has survived the week in Parliament.

“It is absolutely the curse of MMP that you can’t get rid of an MP that doesn’t deserve to be there,” Michelle Boag told NBR ONLINE.

Asked how she would handle the situation if she was still the National Party president, Ms Boag says National’s only leverage is Mr Gilmore’s party membership – which should be suspended.

“And Aaron Gilmore’s only leverage is that he has a vote in Parliament.

“Quite frankly, I think the party probably feels they have spent enough time worrying about Aaron Gilmore. He isn’t really worthy of all the attention that he’s had over the past week.

“And probably the thing that would hurt Aaron most at the moment is not being talked about. You get the impression he’s quite enjoying it,” the director at communications consultancy Boag Alan Pirie says.

But in the interests of a fast solution, Ms Boag suggests a deal.

“Just get him to hand over his vote to the whip, suspend him in the meantime, put him on a bit of a good-behaviour bond and worry about him at the next election.”

The disgraced MP confirmed to the media this week he would not step down as an MP, despite mounting calls for him to quit after revelations of his behaviour at a restaurant in Hamner Springs.

New examples of Mr Gilmore’s unsavoury conduct emerged yesterday when it was revealed he blew a government contract because of “inappropriate” emails he sent to an official.

Suspending him is favourable to “booting him out” of Parliament, a lengthy process which Mr Gilmore could challenge legally, Ms Boag says.

“They can’t stop him being an MP they can only stop him being a National MP.”

Career hopes dashed?

Ms Boag confirms Mr Gilmore’s future in the party is limited, but says any ambitions outside Parliament may not be dashed completely.

“Anyone can be rehabilitated after a political downfall, it’s just a matter of time.

“I suspect there will be no appetite to let him back in [to National] but, hopefully, if he behaves himself for 18 months he might be able to find himself a job after the next election.

“If he backs himself he could set up his own business doing something. I don’t think he’s going to find it easy to get a corporate job. And I don’t think he’s going to find it easy to get a government job, either.

“But if he behaves himself and sits on his hands for 18 months and doesn’t cause anyone any problems he may eventually get a job outside politics. He’s not going to get one right now.”

gbond@nbr.co.nz

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