Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre seemed relieved on Friday that the constant controversy around his former deputy, Trond Giske, may finally settle down. Støre made it clear that he thinks Giske showed poor judgment by dancing late at night with young women, as mobile phone cameras rolled, just a year after violating the party’s guidelines against sexual harassment and right when he was trying hard to make a political comeback.
Giske’s decision Friday afternoon to withdraw his candidacy for new leadership roles in the party’s Trøndelag chapter was “wise, after that night on the town,” Støre told newspaper VG. He also said it was tied to questionable judgment, “after he earlier has said he would change his ways.”
Giske has been in serious trouble over how he has behaved in social situations involving women and alcohol. Several women filed complaints against him during the “MeToo” campaign against sexual harassment, after remaining silent for years.
The election committee in Giske’s home district of Trøndelag had continued to support him as late as Wednesday, when it controversially agreed to propose his candidacy for new positions of trust. At a new meeting on Friday, after a video showed Giske in an Oslo bar last Saturday night, they decided he shouldn’t be nominated after all.
“I can understand that conclusion,” Støre told VG. “They have had to work a lot on this and took it seriously.” He added that the entire controversy “generated great interest and great unrest.”
“What they’re showing here is that the judgment used here hasn’t been good enough to earn a position of trust on the board of the party,” Støre said. “This has also generated turbulence far beyond Trøndelag Arbeiderparti.”
The party leader also conceded he and the party have grown weary of the problems around Trond Giske: “We have handled the complaints against him, concluded that we’re not going to take up his appeal and now this is a party that’s thirsting for the work of politics. That also applies to Trøndelag, but also all over the country.”
He declined to go into detail about Giske’s behaviour. “But in light of his history, in light of the complaints, in light of what Trond Giske said himself a year ago, when he had trouble distinguishing his roles (in public and private life), it’s all an expression of poor judgment,” Støre told state broadcaster NRK.
Asked whether Giske could continue in other roles within the party, Støre said: “He doesn’t have the confidence today that would suggest getting leading roles of trust and authority in Arbeiderpartiet.”