As I’ve noted already, I think the OBA’s decision to walk out of the Reply to the Throne Speech was an ill-judged one – and going on the basis of online comments (FB and Bernews) it has rather spectacularly backfired. Quite frankly, they’ve failed to appreciate just how fed up the lay electorate is with the state of politics today.
I also think they’ve severely prejudiced the active police investigation now.
The OBA have released a statement to the media explaining their actions and giving an indication of what Mr Bean is alleged to have said. The media is editing aspects of this, for various reasons (language, police investigation, etc), however the OBA has also posted their unedited version on their FB page, of which you can see a screenshot to the right.
It’s important to stress that this statement is one-sided. It only presents what the OBA wants it to present, and for all we know they’ve selectively edited it for their benefit (of attacking Mr Bean). However, perception becomes reality – or more real than reality – in politics, and Mr Bean’s past use of language render it easy to accept that at least part of this statement is true, even if somewhat out of context, hypothetically.
Now, based solely on this summary, I’m really not sure there’s much of a criminal case to answer, and if this is all there is I think the police are likely going to simply drop the investigation. They have to investigate on the basis of the complaint, but they are likely to just conclude there’s nothing there to charge Mr Bean with unlawful conduct.
Looking at the comments, while they can (and are by PLPers on FB) be spun away, I think we can agree that the language and imagery involved are unbecoming an MP, let alone the Opposition Leader and prospective Premier.
As I’ve said before, this just underlines a tendency of Mr Bean which in my opinion adds to my conclusion that his Leadership should be open to question. He is a political liability for the PLP and damaging their hopes of re-election, all this despite staggering incompetence and scandal on the part of the OBA.
I can understand how his victim would likely have interpreted the comments, and I can certainly see how they come across as misogynistic. Mr Bean should rightly be criticised for them, and his own MPs and members should be leading this criticism, at least internally, if for no other reason than the political damage it causes the party.
I don’t think that justifies the OBA’s actions one bit however. They had much better options to chose from, and it’s hard not to think that they themselves realised the police were likely to drop the investigation, and so sought to pre-empt this, with an eye to extracting maximum impact in advance of the by-election next week.
I have trouble thinking they have taken a principled stand here rather than an opportunistic one for political purposes, especially when they had better options available to them, such as a motion for a joint select committee on Members behaviour, conduct and sexism in general.
So, yes, Mr Bean should be criticised. If he had a point to get across to Ms Daniels, he chose absolutely the wrong language and manner for doing so, and reinforces questions of his suitability as Leader.
However, the OBA have completely mishandled this and scored an own-goal.
In the end, the respect for parliament is further lowered.