After 18 months of rumbles, a scandal that National has been trying to keep the lid on, has finally erupted to the surface in all of its muddiness.
The saga of Todd Barclay is not new. I heard rumours that Mr Barclay may have committed acts of a questionable nature over a year ago, which were backed up by odd story here and there in the media. The media interest has been haphazard, flaring up when a new claim or twist to the story has come out, only to die again within a matter of days.
But what are those claims?
Mr Barclay admitted that he had wiretapped a senior agent for National in the Clutha-Southland electorate. Anyone who intercepts private communications of another individual intentionally with an interception device is liable to be imprisoned for not more than 2 years.
In other words by wiretapping Ms Dickson, Mr Barclay has committed a criminal offence.
So how do the matter come to this?
Todd Barclay was elected to Parliament in 2014, after the then Deputy Prime Minister Bill English decided only to stand as a list Member of Parliament. Being No. 2 in National’s line up this meant he would be automatically returned. It also meant that a new candidate could be stood in Clutha-Southland electorate by National.
In January 2016 the saga began.
Mr Barclay’s refusal to co-operate with the police might have ended his career. However, by prolonging the saga Mr Barclay has shown an appalling lack of foresight. It has now become something that the public will be interested in – a story that is going to get worse both for him and Mr English before it gets better. In election year such problems as this are filthy stinky mud that the Opposition can fling at the Government and there is no doubt in my mind that plenty of mud from this saga is going to be flying in the next few weeks.
The best thing Mr Barclay can do now is resign and National stand a fresh candidate in the electorate. A refusal to resign should be taken by the electorate as a person not fit to hold an elected position bring that into disrepute. Clutha Southland is one of the bluest electorates in New Zealand. It falling to another party would be like expecting Labour to lose Christchurch East or Mt Albert.
However it remains to be seen what impact this will have on voters preferences on polling day. If they have forgotten, the real loser will be the integrity of public office in New Zealand.