Last weekend MyThinks were lucky enough to be invited behind closed doors at the Labour Party annual conference in sunny Palmerston North. Although much of the conference was closed to the media, we were lucky enough given special access to workshops and policy development forums across the weekend. Our reporter chose to spend Saturday afternoon at the Chris Trotter Memorial Debate hosted by a cardboard cutout of Jim Knox. Here is his transcript of the discussion.
KNOX: Welcome everyone to this inaugural Chris Trotter debate. The topic for today’s discussion is: Labour Debates – now and in the future. We are joined today by half a dozen delegates from around the country all here to debate Labour debates. Debating debates we’ve had in the past; debating our present debates; debating any future debates we might debate in the future. Let’s start the ball rolling. Who wants to begin?
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I would like to begin by affirming your introduction to this debate. You’ve both introduced the debate and welcomed us all here, which is more than I can say for the New Lynn branch who wouldn’t even stump up with a gingernut when I was up there last weekend.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: (shouting) Countdown was closed! Rats!! How many times do I have to say it!!!
KNOX: Alright. Calm down everyone. Don’t peak too early.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: I’ll peak when I want. I’m the damn electorate chairman for Cunliffe.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I’m sure you wouldn’t be this angry if you had a robust supply of gingernuts.
(sounds of wrestling and swearing heard on tape)
KNOX: Alright you two. Settle down. I’ve got a krispie in my pocket. Will that do?
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I had my mind set on gingernuts.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: Oh, for chrissake. I bet National don’t get this sort of grief from Sky City. In fact, I bet they all get envelopes full of cash all weekend at their conference.
KNOX: I wouldn’t know but this is Palmerston North so I reckon if you have any cash on you at the moment you better keep a close eye on it. Look, people, we’re off track. Who agrees with me that the current debates the Labour Party is having are some of the best debates we’ve ever had?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agree.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: I disagree.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: My head says yes, but my heart says no so I’m going to have to agree and disagree.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: Rats!!
ALL: I agree.
KNOX: So who’s agreeing and disagreeing, just for our records?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agreed.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: And I disagreed.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: And I neither agreed nor disagreed because there wasn’t anything that I felt I could really agree or disagree with.
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agree that you couldn’t agree or disagree.
KNOX: Ok, so that’s two agrees and two disagrees. That is, if I count your “neither agree nor disagree” as one agree and one disagree.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: No. I disagree. If I neither agree nor disagree then I’m not agreeing OR disagreeing. You can’t just put me down for an agree or a disagree. I don’t agree with that. If anything, they cancel each other out. Agreed?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I disagree. You can’t just sit on the fence. You have to either agree or disagree. You can’t just say, “I neither agree nor disagree.” That’s totally disagreeable.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: I disagree. If any person wants to sit on the fence they are totally within their rights. This is a free country. You don’t have to agree or disagree with anything. If you want to “neither agree nor disagree” then that, in my humble opinion, is entirely agreeable….
Editors Note: the discussion covered most of the afternoon session and, following a short break for gingernuts, continued well into the night. We pick up the coverage as the discussion comes to a close at 12:53am.
KNOX: So it’s agreed then. No matter what the discussion, policy or proposed election platform, any delegate can choose to either agree or disagree or neither agree nor disagree. Agreed?
KNOX: I now call this meeting to a close.