John Armstrong: Metiria Turei will be remembered, but she won't be missed

Metiria Turei will be remembered. But she will not be missed.

Ms Turei has been under fire since her benefit fraud revelations. Source: 1 NEWS

Few in the world of politics will shed a tear for her in the wake of her decision to quit politics. Not even those of the crocodile variety.

To understand why you need look no further than her misguided decision to reveal that she had been a benefit cheat back in the 1990s.

Her stated motivation for going public with something she had kept hidden during her 15 years in Parliament was to spark a comprehensive and exhaustive debate on poverty levels in New Zealand.

What resulted instead - predictably so - was a debate on the glaring gaps in her account of life on the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

Her refusal to divulge details of her living arrangements at the time and her convenient memory lapses regarding how much she diddled the taxpayer meant sympathy for her past plight evaporated swiftly.

Her lack of contrition only exacerbated what rapidly became public frustration with her campaign.

The Green Party co-leader was adamant no one within the party, or outside, forced her resignation decision. Source: 1 NEWS

The public felt that the wool was being pulled over its eyes especially when it was revealed that she had registered as a voter at the address of the father of her child.

She insisted that she had not been living at that house. But she had exhausted the public’s patience to such an extent that rightly or wrongly people assumed otherwise.

It was a crucial turning point.

The Greens had jumped in the opinion polls at Labour’s expense but the Labour Party got revenge by insisting that Turei could no longer be a Minister in a Labour-Greens Cabinet.

The sound of Turei nailing herself on to the cross of martyrdom was replaced by the sound of Labour nailing the lid on her political coffin.

She was finished. She remained the Greens female co-leader but to what end?

The announcement comes after growing outrage over her admission to committing benefit fraud years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

There will be sympathy for her family. But not for her. Most MPs go to extraordinary lengths to protect their families from the ugly side of politics.

Exposure usually goes no further than the soft, politics free parents in women’s magazines. In marked contrast, Turei used her family as a political weapon with which to wage her war on poverty.

Her stated reason for stepping down as co-leader prior to quitting Parliament at the election was that intrusions into her family's private life generated by the revelations of her welfare fraud.

But what else did she expect?

There are many people who hate beneficiaries. They also hate politicians. Put the two together and you get a very toxic and very explosive combination of nastiness.

Many on the left have praised her for possessing the courage to tread in such dangerous territory.

Many on the right would argue that doing so displayed a foolhardiness born of self-righteousness.

An almost audible groan would rumble along the National Party’s benches at Parliament every time she rose to ask a question.

They knew it was a cue for another sanctimonious lecture on National’s failures.

Less than two months out from the election and the party is in turmoil. Source: 1 NEWS

In that regard, she delivered one of the most mean-spirited speeches ever heard in Parliament when the House debated the resignation as Prime Minister of John Key.

Turei simply saw politics in very black and white terms. It is just as well that she will never become a Cabinet Minister.

She had raised expectations of what she would deliver way beyond her capacity to do so.

But avoiding that fate will be small consolation as she grieves for the loss of her career in politics.