The National Party is understandably deeply embarrassed and upset by the shenanigans of lowly ranked MP Aaron Gilmore. Senior members of the party, both within and without the caucus, are saying that he must resign, but he’s refusing to go.
But I’m betting that he won’t be going anytime soon.
The reason is simple. He needs an income.
It has been said that Gilmore claims that he has plenty of money and he doesn’t need the salary (see this post from a prominent National party member), but given Gilmore’s well rehearsed capacity for big noting, amply displayed in recent days, I don’t think that this claim should be taken all that seriously.
It’s an object lesson in the economic realities that drive people’s decision making. Very simply, people must eat. And that means that they will stay in a job even if their employer is an exploitative bully, or they loathe the work, or their workmates are serial harassers, or whatever. It makes employees extraordinarily vulnerable to employers, especially when unemployment is high. There’s always a replacement worker on the dole queue.
This is exactly why we have legislation that protects employees. It’s to ensure that employers don’t have the capacity to exploit employees.
And that means that from time to time, an employer may find it very hard to get rid of an obnoxious employee. That’s the cost of our employment laws, and it’s a small cost to bear. After all, employers typically have more resources (assets, education, expertise, money in the bank and so on) than employees. Employers are usually much less vulnerable than employees/
And we have similar protections in place in our parliament. A Member of Parliament can’t be tossed out of the house just because the leader of her or his party demands it. The objective is not so much to protect an MP’s employment, as to ensure that each and every Member of Parliament can participate in deliberations in the House, work with constituents, offer advice and opinions without fear of being sanctioned, and vote freely. We need our Members of Parliament to have this freedom.
And that means that from time to time, short of calling an election, a political party may find it very, very hard to get rid of an obnoxious MP. That’s the cost of the laws protecting our MPs’ tenure, and it’s a small cost to pay. It has been borne by various parties in the past, and right now, that cost is being borne by the National Party.
If they don’t want to pay those costs, then they probably need to shoulder tap some of their mates, and find some alternative employment for Aaron Gilmore.