Bugger. Alf did the numbers game (because of our narrow majority we need AAron Gilmore more than he needs us) and combined it with The Boss’s apparent disinclination to sack the fellow.
Accordingly when the matter became the subject of a wager in the Eketahuna Club, your hard-working, long-serving member put his money on Gilmore staying on as a National MP.
It looks like the wager might be lost.
The Herald (here) says John Key has sent a clear message to Gilmore to resign, referring the case to the party president.
Mr Key also said he found it difficult to reconcile the version of events Mr Gilmore had given him about a night at the Heritage Hotel in Hanmer Springs with text messages from Mr Gilmore which had subsequently been released.
You didn’t have to tell Alf that a referral to the president is the first step of expelling an MP from caucus
Key is reported to have said he did not expect to move to expel Gilmore because it was a long process and it might be quicker to wait until the next election.
However, he made it clear he wanted Mr Gilmore to resign, saying he could not force a list MP to quit Parliament and had not asked Mr Gilmore to resign directly: “But given the pressure he’s been under and the questions he has been unable to answer to the media, I would have thought it was self-explanatory for him to come forward if that’s what he wants to do.”
He said text messages that had since been provided to his office were hard to reconcile with the version of events Mr Gilmore had provided him with. “I find it very difficult to reconcile, and I find it very difficult to get a straight answer quite frankly.”
This comes as seriously disturbing news to Alf, who normally is reluctant to gamble his money on anything except absolute certainties, such as the sun rising somewhere in the world tomorrow morning.
He put Gilmore’s job in the certainty department, although this by no means meant he wanted the fellow to hang on.
His confidence in this certainty was reinforced when Gilmore yesterday apologised publicly for his behaviour towards a waiter who refused to serve him more alcohol that night.
Gilmore acknowledged he had been a dickhead and wept a few tears and generally looked like he had learned a lesson in humility.
But he isn’t accepting claims by his acquaintance, Andrew Riches, that he had threatened to have the waiter sacked by the Prime Minister’s office.
However, text messages emerged today between Mr Riches and Mr Gilmore in which Mr Riches refers to Mr Gilmore making such a statement and Mr Gilmore replied “I know.”
Mr Gilmore said this morning he had sent his own version of the text exchange to Mr Key’s office. However Mr Key said “I find [the texts] difficult to reconcile with the version of events Mr Gilmore gave my office. I said at the time, if I found it difficult to reconcile those events I’d treat it as an serious matter.”
He said he could not pre-judge what the party would do, but he expected them to take it into account in the list ranking.
“No party leader can force a list member out of Parliament. Even if we were to try and sack him out of caucus, that is a long drawn-out and quite painful and expensive process. But he is 59th out of 59, he has no portfolio responsibilities, he’s a list member of Parliament and I have expressed my real concerns to the President.”
The leaked text message exchange was sent last Thursday – the same day the story broke and Riches issued a statement to media denying the entire group was involved in the incident.
In one text, Mr Riches suggested Mr Gilmore had told a barman at the hotel that he would be fired and the PM would be involved.
Mr Gilmore replied: “I know.”
Mr Riches said yesterday he stood by the statement he released last week, which said Mr Gilmore had been the only person in the group to behave badly and accused him of invoking the Prime Minister’s office.
You can find the text exchange at the Herald site and elsewhere.
Alf is pissed off he didn’t have a copy when he took his bet.