Rachel Smalley: Stuart Nash is gone - We've lost one of the good ones

Rachel Smalley: Stuart Nash is gone - We've lost one of the good ones

Opinion: It's been a remarkable few days in politics. 

And this morning you're waking up to the news that Stuart Nash, one of Labour's better-performing Ministers has been stripped of all portfolios. 

Here is what Chris Hipkins had to say about the behaviour of Stuart Nash.

"I expect ministers to uphold the highest ethical standards and his actions raise a perception of influence that cannot be allowed to stand."

Central to Cabinet is confidence -- what is discussed in there, essentially stays in there. And Nash emailed details of private Cabinet discussions to external people - some of whom had donated to his campaign. 

"While Stuart was on a final warning I want to be clear that this incident alone would have resulted in his dismissal in its own right."

Hipkins, quite rightly, has pulled the pin and in the next month, it's feasible that Nash could leave politics altogether. 

And that's a great shame. Stuart Nash is in politics for the right reasons. He's easy to talk to. He's easy to engage with. He knows his portfolios. And he's great at rolling up his sleeves and getting on with the job. 

If you're in Hawke's Bay right now, where Nash is a local, and was heading up your Cyclone response, you're likely to be furious at the goings-on in Wellington, and what's dominating politics right now. 

Your region, your infrastructure, the impact on your livelihoods....all of that is deeply important to you at the moment, and I can only imagine the sheer frustration at what you're seeing dominating our politicians' commentary right now. 

The Government is not talking about the multi-billion dollar recovery. They're not talking about crime, or the fact you can't get an appointment at the doctor's or that you've spent months waiting for chemotherapy....they're making statements about straight white men being responsible for all the world's violence. And then refusing to say sorry. 

And that must be driving you to distraction. You don't have to be in Hawke's Bay or some of our worst-hit regions to be frustrated. 

This latest situation was enough, in itself, to sack Nash. You can't disseminate Cabinet notes and reveal the ideas or positions of other Ministers. But to most everyday kiwis, they'll shrug at this. So Nash sent an email? So what?

What most will see is that one of Labour's good Ministers is gone. Nash illustrated what we want in a politician. He just cracks on with the work he needs to do. And even if you disagree with him, he's all over economic development, fisheries and the challenges facing forestry right now. 

And to some degree, Nash spoke like we all speak. 

He got in trouble for saying he hoped the man who killed a young policeman would get a very long time in jail. As Police Minister, he can't say that, but most of us will have nodded in agreement with him. Yes. Throw away the key on that thug, that monster, who killed Constable Matthew Hunt. 

And Nash was also incredulous when a sentence of home detention was given to a gangster. A man with illegal weapons, illegal ammunition, and no license, who was armed to the teeth. And at the time, Nash spoke to the Police Commissioner about whether Police would challenge the home detention sentence he was given. And he shouldn't have. 

But most of us will hear that and say "too right". We'll agree. 

I know all of this puts Nash in breach of various Codes, but that doesn't stop us agreeing with him, right? 

However, if you're a white male this morning, you're probably more frustrated than most. And you have a right to be. 

Many of the good blokes out there - people like my brother, who hunts and fishes and he's a farmer who likes a barbeque and a beer and his family around him -- will shake their head at what's going on with the Government at the moment. 

They're sacking the good guys, while Marama Davidson is allowed to say that white men are responsible for the world's violence, and she doesn't have to say sorry for saying that. 

Unlike Nash, the country didn't elect Davidson to Government. She wasn't voted in as part of Labour's majority-government victory in 2020. She was thrown a bone by Jacinda Ardern and given a portfolio. Davidson doesn't have a mandate to be there. And yet she retains her role and she doesn't have to say sorry for making such an offensive statement. 

You know why? Because white men don't form the backbone of the Greens' or Labour's voter base. 

So today we've lost one of the good ones. Stuart Nash is gone. And we're left with a politician who cares little for the people who won't vote for her.