Phil Quinn on Darren Hughes

Hard core Labour activist Phil Quinn has some words to say about the Hughes Affair:

This is a terrible series of events.  It appears that the 18-year old was subject to unwanted advances by an MP, which is bad enough. But the fact that the two allegedly met while the MP was acting in an official capacity makes matters significantly worse, elevating it to a serious abuse of position and trust.    This, if true, is what makes the story a genuine scandal, whatever the specifics of the incident itself.

Labour is refusing to comment at the time of writing, which is probably because they are furiously gathering facts and devising an appropriate response.  There may also be some hope that the scandal will go away if the accuser decides against pursuing the matter.  If falls somewhere between inconceivable and unlikely that this will happen — name suppression is a tenuous form of containment in New Zealand at the best of times.

My understanding is that heavy drinking was involved in the lead-up to the alleged events.  This is par for the course, both with respect to the NZ Parliament (which is a booze barn) and with respect to the MP himself who is widely known to imbibe with great and growing enthusiasm.

Therefore, the alleged scandal contains at least the following elements:

  • The MP made unwanted sexual advances towards an 18-year male after an official function
  • The MP is gay or bisexual, but has concealed the fact
  • He has a drinking problem

This appears closely reminiscent of the Mark Foley scandal whereupon the Florida Congressman got in deep water over sleazy text messages and emails he sent to Congressional pages. The same abuse of authority, the same murky and closeted sexuality, the predictable role of booze.  Foley resigned in disgrace after it became clear he would be turfed by his colleagues if he didn’t.  He then attempted to mitigate his actions through revelations of alcoholism and childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest. Foley is now openly gay, and there are periodic reports that he is considering a return to public life.

On the basis of those facts it is hard to see how or even why Labour is dying in the ditch to defend Darren Hughes.

What can our Labour MP learn from the Foley scandal and, more generally, how can he begin to respond to these events?

First, if these allegations turn out to accurately reflect events, there is no hope that the MP can remain in Parliament.  It is not because he is gay or drinks too much; it is that he, at the very least, is guilty of straight-forward sexual harassment.  If, for example, he was accused by someone at a gay bar of acting inappropriately or abusively, this would be damaging but not fatal (although this would complicated by the presence of a spouse).  In such a scenario, he would need, probably, to leave the front-bench – but as long as he managed his response to the sexuality/alcohol abuse questions, he could stay in Parliament and rehabilitate his career.  At a gay bar, he is just another drunken, horny closet-case.  Take a number, get in line.

Coudn’t have said it better myself. This isn’t some sort of gay bashing slug-fest. What is important here is the abuse of authority and the sexual harassment, it matters not a bit that Darren Hughes may or may not be gay.

If the allegations are false because the events did not occur or occurred in a drastically different way, he must obviously fight until his name is cleared.

If the allegations are false by dint of subjective interpretation of events, he must avoid allowing this to descend into a unedifying spectacle of “he said-he said”.  He will get no credit for disputing the account of an 18 year old.  It is far better to concede what he can on his terms.  While obviously avoiding self-incrimination on the advice of his lawyers, he ought to frame the events in a way that does not attempt to demean, or indeed blame, the alleged victim.  This will not save his career in the short term, but will give him a fighting chance at rebuilding his reputation over the coming years.

A serious complicating issue here is the conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia, which is unfortunately well embedded in our culture.  There is little doubt that certain elements will want to characterise this as something akin to child abuse despite the alleged victim’s age (18).   If this were to take hold in the public mind, this represents a fatal blow to the MP’s reputation.  It would elevate the scandal to a new level of seriousness with broader implications for the Labour brand.

Uhmmm not sure I agree with Phil here. To my knowledge no-one except Phil Quinn himself has made the link, tenuous and false though it is, of homosexuality with pedophilia. If I was Darren Hughes I wouldn’t be listening to that piece of advice.

Personally I don’t care one way or another about a person’s sexuality. I care very much though whether there has been an abuse of power or authority. Sexual harassment is not acceptable wither in the heterosexual community nor in the gay community. This is the issue here, along with Labour’s apparent willingness to try to whitewash the issues and now their scurrilous attacks on the alleged victim that they are shopping around the place.


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  • Fantastic – a labour activist describing Parliament as a booze barn. How wonderful to know that our country is being run by a bunch of drunks.

  • michaels

    Nothing new there Jacs

  • lucia

    Anyone following the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals would immediately see the link between homosexuality and not so much paedophlia, but pederasty. Most, if not all abusive priests were active homosexuals. Of course, this does not mean that all homosexuals are potential abusers, it just means that those that are attracted to children and teenagers tend to be actively homosexual as well.

  • expat

    Is anyone surprised that Hughsie is a bender and pederast as well as a raving ginga.

  • giblet

    If this is true, it’s pretty much how most of us probably imagine what happened, then it really reflects poorly that a person with such poor judgment can rise to be a Cabinet Minister.

    If he is gay then why for god’s sake hide it, there is no shame in it anymore, you can’t be blackmailed when you are out of the closet. Colin Moyle stayed in the closet and look what happened to him (although the sex was still unlawful then, I think).

    Also what peeves me is that once again when an MP is in the shit (Carter, Hawawira, et al) they all get sent home for a holiday on full pay. Surely they should be suspended without pay – they sure as hell aint workin.

    Finally, just how many of these booze-ridden parties are our MP’s attending ? All over the suburbs of Wellington there must be politicians awash with piss everynight of the week.

  • cadwallader

    Jacqueline, how can you only derive from this post that Parliament is a booze bar? There is a far more revolting aspect to this.

    This scandal, which it seems to be, reveals a flagrant abuse of a youth by a person in a position of strength and power. It acutely records the self-centeredness and self-focussed attitudes of Labour members. Once in the parliamentary Labour Party any sense of decency and self-respect is forfeited so as to wallow in the bestowed power of the office.It is self-focussed to the point of being masturbatory. Hughes learned his behaviour while being the drooling and compliant servant of the She-Beast. Hasn’t he done well !!!

    How Goff will paper-over this filth will surely test his puny/non-existent abilities. But, he’ll try for certain. I’ll wager that Hughes will never possess the dignity to fall on his sword and will leave the House screaming of a National set-up.

    At times like this it is seldom the original offence, if there has actually been one, that destroys the miscreant, it is the failure to acknowledge culpability which leads to the fall from grace. (Taitau Field is an exemplary case.)

    • None of us know what happened – the guy that has made the complaint is 18 so you are judging pretty harshly considering no details of what actually happened have yet emerged.

      I can’t believe that people think it is ok for our Parliament to be considered a “Booze Barn”

      We have a bunch of drunks running our country and all anyone cares about is something sleazy that may or may not have happened between these drunks.

      Perhaps if Parliament was not a booze barn these types of things would not happen in the first place.

      That is how i only derived “Booze Barn” from this post. Booze is revolting…as are drunks.

      • cadwallader

        Jacqueline: You can certainly bang the temperance drum! Hughes and Co had been to a student piss-up not to Bellamy’s. I agree that booze consumption is pervasive in Parliament. In Muldoon’s day there were numerous instances of his Cabinet (Dad’s Army) getting caught out for being pissed as farts. Nothing new really.
        By concentrating on alcohol abuse here aren’t you providing this leftie predator with a mitigation plea? He doesn’t deserve one. Hughes and his boyhood dream of being the She-Beast’s dildo are finished!

        • Fair call.

          I will bang my drum in the corner now ;)

          • cadwallader

            Ok. I hope your corner is not in Full-Moon’s house where Dirty Darren has been lurking.

  • I agree that sexuality is not the issue here. The issue is whether someone took advantage of a very drunk or comatose person sexually.
    If the story was of a male MP who ( for example ) stripped a drunk woman while she was passed out on his couch and then did something sexual to her while she was out of it then the issue is clear. It is not who was involved, it is What happened that is the issue.
    Note: I do not have the facts. My example is speculation only.

    • cadwallader

      The sexual aspect of the matter (if there is a sexual aspect at all) is irrelevant. It is the sense of power Hughes evidently believes he has derived from his parliamentary career that is salutary. This sense of entitlement is truly ugly but not surprising. When we recall the vileness of Hughes’ erstwhile leader and heroine with its belief it could buy elections, lie, cheat, break the speed limit and forage in the world of art fraud; the attitude to humanity displayed by this pathetic albino is to be expected. What life is it to spend one’s teenage years wishing to be in Parliament then on attaining that sad dream, becoming the She-Beast’s toy. Yuck!

      • mediatart

        Sense of entitlement ?

        Not like using the taxpayers money to fly to Christchurch to mow the lawns on a rented property, like was revealed in the Sampan saga with the Wongs?.
        Or even the Minister of Finance getting the taxpayer to pay rent to live in his own home ?
        Or Hide taking his girlfriend on a taxpayer funded jaunt to Europe to attend a family wedding , and then saying he was ‘entitled’ to do so.

        • cadwallader

          The sense of entitlement Tart, which gives them their perceived right to do as they will with human-beings. NB I do not state fellow human beings due to the Labour Parliamentary Party being its own species and thus apart.

        • This blog and its readers get stuck into anyone, no matter what party they are from. All of your examples were vilified by this blog owner. Hugs will be no different if the facts support it.

  • grizz

    Sounds like Hughes has a serious drinking problem. While on leave he should take to take the opportunity to address this problem. While I do not object to people enjoying the odd tipple, people do not like being represented by a drunk.

  • expat

    If indeed he is only a drunk.

  • peterwn

    I was too benign in my earlier comment today. I thought the issue of ‘consent’ would loom large. Depending on circumstances ‘consent’ can loom large with one extreme being a rape (sexual violation being the generic legal term) claim between a married couple. It can be an extremely powerful defence to a rape claim. But a claim that an assault with sexual overtones (eg groping) in a public place was ‘consented’ to would meet with hoots of derision. That puts him firmly on the line.

    I cannot believe (OK I am naive) that people will consume alcohol to the point they lose control of their senses. I suspect that drinking some alcohol blunts judgment. Darren was a Minister for a few years. He would have a minder on many occasions who would tactfully deal with any potential problem, and access to a CR car might avoid any drink drive problem (as Ruth Dyson learned the hard way). So the old Temperence Unionists did know a thing or two.

    • “I can­not believe (OK I am naïve) that peo­ple will con­sume alco­hol to the point they lose con­trol of their senses.”

      I have experience of waking up and having “lost time”. I also have discovered forum comments (before blogs! ;)) I can’t recall typing. I have found objects in locations I can’t remember having left them.

      It is a vile drug if you can’t control it, and it affects different people differently. I always seemed to be a happy person. Others get aggressive. I have an in-law and a friend who will have sex with anything approximating a human.

      The 18 year old can very well have been too past it to the point of protesting, and in the morning have no recollection other than the physical remainders of the event.

      In my mind, if the alleged event occurred, then the fact the 18 year old wasn’t tidied up after the fact suggests to me that, allegedly, Hughes didn’t feel there was anything to cover up – he felt he had consent.

      That, or the lad had a good tug and can’t remember.

      It’s a mess, one way or another.

      (Like another commenter above, I am waiting for Labour to claim the 18 year old is a National mole/plant)

      • cadwallader

        “I have experience of waking up and having lost time.” I am the same after, on rare occasions, visiting the Standard!

  • expat

    Peter, see my post #9.

  • kehua

    Did Goff really think that he could keep the lid on a scandal as sordid as this one? Whilst we are not yet privy to the ins and outs of this expose it is probably along similar lines to Dirty Darrens other known attempt of drunken seduction, if this is so regardless of a crime being committed or not he should be shown the door. Surely even the fools running the Labour Party will understand that even their supporters do not condone this type of behaviour. Personally I hope the fool Goff prolongs the situation for as long as he can, it will only damage Labour.

  • grizz

    Looks like the sugar pills and alcohol clouds Darren’s judgement.

  • Doug

    It’s getting worse for Labour Darren has been stood down from Parliament tonight, wonder what Phil will say now.

  • whalewatcher

    I hope he drags Chauvel out with him, take some of Helen’s gal-pals with them. Nasty little hive of deviants

    • mediatart

      Along with Findlayson and probably Kate Wilkinson ?

      or being National makes them not part of the ‘hive’

  • titanuranus

    Bugger, and mud sticks,Labour should know they fling enough of it about…..little caged chimps that they are.

  • pystol

    There­fore, the alleged scan­dal con­tains at least the fol­low­ing elements:
    * The MP made unwanted sex­ual advances towards an 18-year male after an offi­cial function
    * The MP is gay or bisex­ual, but has con­cealed the fact
    * He has a drink­ing problem

    Is that all?

    An 18 year old male accompanied him back to his home – for what?
    Hughes is openly gay isn’t he? I’ve been aware of that for a while and I didn’t have to go snooping around to find that out like I did to find out about one of the flowerpot men.
    So he drinks a little – too much sometimes – big deal. How many others, past and present, are or have been guilty of that.

    Geez…talk about Molehill Everest.

    • kimbo

      …and the spin, damage control, and bullshit begins.

      No, pystol, that is not all.


      It is not primarily a sex scandal. Like WO said, no one cares if Hughes is gay or not, and what he does with a consenting adult. Suggest your attempts at playing the shell-game need to improve.

      • darcyclay

        The police wouldn’t be investigating if it weren’t a public figure. Darren would have obviously made his intentions known, I mean how is a man supposed to get his jollies if he can’t propose his wants to a potential partner!? And how clueless is this 18 year old?! Was he expecting tea and biscuits when he accompanied him back to wherever all this took place.

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  • kimbo

    “The police wouldn’t be inves­ti­gat­ing if it weren’t a pub­lic fig­ure.”

    …and yet more spin, dam­age con­trol, and bull­shit.

    The police wouldn’t be investigating unless there was something to investigate!

    Do you think the Labour feminists would tolerate “And how clue­less is this 18 year old?! Was he expect­ing tea and bis­cuits when he accom­pa­nied him back to wher­ever all this took place” in a potential case of sexual harrassment, or whatever this is, if it involved a heterosexual liaison, and it wasn’t a Labour member whom they they liked involved?! I know – let’s ask how they reacted over Richard Worth?!

    Stop trying to turn Hughes into some political or public martyr. Rowling and Labour did the same thing with the Colin Moyle affair years ago, and Moyle ended up looking like a he was a victim, and Muldoon a heartless bully.

    The reality was Moyle attacked the integrity of Muldoon’s business partners under Parliamentary privilege, and Muldoon, like any good Kiwi with guts, went for the jugular defending his mates. Muldoon had a live-and-let-live attitude to personal sexuality, and only cared about chopping down someone making unfair and unsupported attacks and innuendo against his friends. But instead, Labour still makes capital, at Muldoon’s expense, that Moyle was the victim of muck-raking.

    The reality was Rowling got all prissy demanding inquiries, and then Moyle gave at least 4 different versions, some under oath, and in Parliament, as to what the hell he was doing cruising in his car that night.

    Same party, same foibles, same political ineptitude and hypocrisy , same deflecting of blame and responsibility. And Goff blames Key.

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  • mikee

    There seem to very few facts around this case, and everyone seems to be filling in the gaps with their own biases. Suggesting whatever happened is an abuse of power doesn’t seem reasonable to me, as the young man wasn’t employed in “in the power” of Mr Hughes. Mr Hughes sexuality is also his own business.
    As everyone else is using their imaginations to fill in the gaps let me suggest the following:
    With a bit of alcohol in their systems, Mr Hughes and the young man discovered an attraction which with their inhibitions lowered they acted on consentually. Later the young man wakes up in a place he doesn’t recognise, freaks out and disorientated runs out into the street naked. Picked up by the police he has to explain himself and comes out with whatever he has told the police.
    Now this is one possibility. If in any way Mr Hughes coerced the young man then I think he needs to be punished for it. But if it is a case of a confused young man finding himself out of his depth (which might be one reason why it was kept quiet – media exposure of the young man wont help him sort himself out) then I don’t think Darren Hughes is guilty of anything but perhaps poor judgement.