23 June 2015

George Murphy quits politics #nlpoli

Whenever anyone runs down politicians as a group,  remember George Murphy.

And then give the boor who ran down politicians a lash in the arse.

That’s basically all that sort of person is good for:  a target for your boot.

We need more people like George Murphy in public life,  not fewer. He is a fundamentally decent, generous, and thoughtful person. While there are plenty of people like George in public life, thankfully, and in life in general, we can never have enough.

George announced on Monday that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in the November general election.

Officially, George is putting his family first.  Regular readers will recognise this for the excuse it is, but it is one we can allow in George’s case. For one thing, like all fibs, it has a kernel of truth in it.  George has a young family.  Public life is such that family always takes a second place to the responsibilities of the job.

For another thing, the difficulties George would inevitably face in the fall are so obvious that we can let him slide graciously out the door. In the re-districting down to 40 seats,  the commission stuck half of Lorraine Michael’s set onto a chunk of George’s seat. Lorraine could have gone in St. John’s East or in Virginia Waters Pleasantville. She decided to put George in a hard spot.

Consider it pay back for George’s part in the October 2013 abortive coup over Lorraine’s abysmal leadership of the party.  The result is that George would have to fight Lorraine for the leadership, with absolutely no support from anyone in the party or head off to another district without much support from the party there either.

He couldn’t run in St. John’s Centre as that would involve another nomination fight he would lose anyway.  If he looked at Pippy Park, George would have faced Cathy Bennett and almost certain annihilation.  Virginia Waters-Pleasantville might have been possible, but the seat was tough enough to scare Lorraine off. 

After that,  George was looking further and further away from the polls with strong NDP presence. The chances of getting re-elected must have looked pretty bleak. Faced with the choice of racking up a great big debt only to lose and simply walking out the door, George evidently felt it best to cut his losses. 

One can’t help but wonder, though, if there is a bit more to it than that even.  After all,  the NDP office could surely have given him a job after the election. It might not have wiped out the debt but it would have given him something. In media interviews on Monday, George said he did not have anything lined up. He doesn’t qualify for a pension.

It’s that harsh financial reality of George’s situation that makes you wonder if internal party politics are playing a hand in his decision.  Murphy sat out the leadership.  Since Earle was the only officially sanctioned choice, George was signalling his strong disagreement with both Earle and the people running the party behind the scenes. 

While that sort of thing is acceptable in other parties,  heresy is the worst crime any New Democrat can commit.  His tears of contrition in 2013 never really washed away the black stain on his political soul, at least in some Dipper eyes.  This second act of heresy  must have caused some further unpleasantness.  In hindsight, George should have joined Mitchelmore and Kirby on the Opposition benches after the revolt. He could have served in opposition and then moved to the Liberals. They’d have welcomed him back to the fold.

If George couldn’t bring himself to go back to the Liberals, then George would have made a mark as an independent member of the House. That seems to be George’s style, anyway. By going back to Lorraine, he just robbed himself of any influence. Regardless,  George wouldn’t have ended up in any worse spot than he is right now.

What might have been is of no matter now. George is now leaving politics. That’s our loss. George goes with plenty of good wishes.  He also deserves our thanks for doing a hard,  often thankless job.  Not everyone gets to be a member of the House of Assembly.  George was one of the good ones.