Calling time on Bill English

Simon William English, 48, a state tenant of Karori, should step down today as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.  His moral authority to demand efficiencies in the public service and lead us through the recession has gone.  Steven Joyce needs to prepare himself to move to the Finance and Infrastructure portfolios this afternoon, and Gerry Brownlee into the Deputy Prime Ministership, to ensure the least disruption to the Government in the transition.

Be clear what English has done and how mendacious it all is.  He has not merely used the rules as he found them to line his own pocket – the way all other ministers and MPs have shamefully done over the years.  As the Herald reports this morning on its front page, he changed the rules to line his own pocket and then restructured his personal affairs to rort the taxpayer of at least another $23,000.  This is the step too far.  It is not just the equivalent of minimising one’s tax bill.  It is the equivalent of setting up a Cook Islands tax scam.

$23,000 is a lot of money in one sense, but it is nothing for someone earning over $300,000 a year, as English is.  His decision to take that next immoral step over such a sum shows how small and venal he truly is.

Questions are also being raised about when he told the Prime Minister about what he had done, and whether he told the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth.  The Prime Minister’s story about the allowance scam keeps changing.  Is that because he is slowly learning more about what his Finance Minister has been up to?

English led National to its 20.9% thrashing in 2002, blaming everyone but himself.  He does not have the confidence of the business community or the party.  He is morally compromised.  Questions linger about his role in the Brash email affair.  Back to Dipton, pal, before you do any more damage to the party.