The Thick of It was a searing satire on how modern politics works (and doesn't work). I don't think it was meant to provide a script for Rugby chief executives who say stupid things when their players get accused of harassing a woman just doing her job.
What with Northern Districts cricket player Scott Kuggeleijn running a "it wasn't rape because any man would do the same" defence (and thanks for spattering that shit all over me and my 5 year old son, Scott), Chief's lock Michael Allardice thinking it's OK to shout homophobic remarks at a public swimming pools, before his team mates allegedly treated a women working as a stripper as their property to use for whatever yuks took their fancy, you could be forgiven for thinking that something is rather rotten in Kiwi masculine culture.
To which I'm sure any woman reading this will roll her eyes any say: "Really? You're just getting that now?". So rather than belabouring the obvious, let me focus on just one aspect of this whole pretty sad state of affairs; the behaviour of Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman.
Here's how RNZ News covered his response to the allegations made by Scarlette against the Chiefs players:
Mr Flexman also apologised for earlier comments he had made, saying the woman's "standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach".
He said in retrospect he probably regretted the way that was expressed.
"As a person and the values I have, given the vocation that this particular woman is involved in, do I cast aspersions on her as a person as a result of that vocation? That's simply not what I believe in."
“Anybody that knows me well ... knows that that’s not the person I am, that’s not consistent with the value set that I have. In no way, shape or form would I ever make that assertion about a woman based on a vocation that she chooses and has the choice to be involved in.”
Reading this, I can't help but think of the scene in the penultimate episode of The Thick of It where the three political advisors (Emma, Phil and Adam) appear before the Goolding Inquiry and are confronted by Baroness Sureka with emails they wrote about a now-deceased homeless nurse with mental health issues, Mr Tickel. Emails such as the following:
"How many Mr Tickles does it take to change a light bulb? He doesn't have a light bulb, he's in a tent.
How do you turn Mr Tickle into Mr Happy? Lithium.
What's the difference between Mr Tickle and Captain Oates? Captain Oates has a less stupid name.
And one I feel that is particularly cruel, Miss Messinger, given Mr Tickel's mental health issues, 'The fucker's a nutbag.'"
Forced to acknowledge the moral shabbiness of their words and views, the three squirm in the spotlight, with the truly pathetic Philip Bartholomew Cornelius Smith reaching a nadir of terribleness:
Sorry. If I could add a mea culpa here rather than dancing around it. Others may choose to attempt to wriggle off the hook of shame, but I cannot. I cannot deny that my name is on those emails and yet I do not recognise that man. It is me, and yet, it is another, and for that I am truly sorry. This has been a humbling moment in my quest to become the man I know I can be.
Sometimes it seems like history really does repeat itself, first as farce and then as a PR exercise on Radio Sport.