Heavy feelings ran deep in the oak-lined room. Green and red friezes adorned the area behind the lectern as the gruff unionist approached. This match was definitely not of his doing and if, as he suspected, it all turned nasty, he could not help but think he was signing his own death warrant.
They stood at the lectern as their eyes danced about knowingly. A small grunt echoed at the rear of the chamber. Mr. Gower, it seems, was struggling to maintain any semblance of decorum. It was still hours until the Newshub fanfare and he had just too much to say. He was calmed with a soothing dose of diamorphine and proceeded to allow the envelope of sleep to post his body to the chair in the corner.
The gruff one was the first to speak.
“Friends,” he regaled the waiting audience, “it is with proud heart and large trouser that I announce my engagement to this delightful woman.”
The delightful woman placed a hand over her mouth and giggled delicately. The mirage would have been complete had she not punctuated the giggle with a light snort.
“I am,” he continued, “in love with this woman. I have loved her since the first day upon which our eyes did meet. It was on that day I vowed she would be mine.”
He then turned to her and, taking her around the waste, placed an eye watering kiss upon her ample lips. The room was silent. Never before had there been such an erotically charged press conference.
Just as quickly as he arrived, he left the podium. He glanced back at her once on the way out of the room and then, like a scone at the Morrinsville bake-sale, he was gone.
She stared at he empty doorway wishing their love would last eternity but knowing he would give it all away if he needed to suckle at the teat of Mr. Winston.
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.
If you haven’t watched the debate between Bill English and David Parker on The Nation over the weekend, you probably should get stuck in to it straight away.
It is very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, when asked about his plan, Bill English was unable to say anything other than, “well… we’ve got a plan.” Host Lisa Owen asked Bill several times to name one thing that his government was going to do to boost New Zealand. I suppose, if one was being kind, one could argue that Bill was saying National is doing many different things together (this is what he said after being pressed).
The only issue I have with the various people arguing this, including panelist Fran ‘Whale Source’ O’Sullivan from the New Zealand Herald, is when David Parker was asked the same question he rattled off a list of policies Labour have planned. It is prudent to note the amount of policy Labour and the Greens have released this election campaign compared with the amount National have released. Sure National have a lot on their website, but it’s not easy to find and apart from their big ‘housing’ announcement (giving more people more money to buy more houses in an effort to bring an end to ) and their tax ‘plan’ today, there has been very little in the way of tangible and meaty policy released and discussed in the media. Everybody knows about Labour’s capital gains tax and the reasons they believe the country needs it. What do we know about National? Oh… you might get tax cuts… if it’s ok to do it. How much? Oh… we don’t know. When? Oh… not ’til 2017.
National’s plan seems to hinge around telling New Zealanders they would rather hear about the issues that matter – housing, health, education and the economy – before attacking Labour or the Greens or Nicky Hager for printing out their emails. They aren’t really that keen to talk about policy. Not keen at all.
The other important takeaway from this interview was Bill English’s inability to draw a line in the sand under the Dirty Politics issue. Lisa Owen asked him point-blank whether he approved of someone trawling through the Labour website and downloading private information. He could have easily said no. That would have put him off side and off message.
The fact Bill stalled and struggled to answer when he was first asked was very telling. It was like he really, really wanted to say yes but his instinct to toe the party line gazzumped his instinct to answer in a way that showed greater amount moral fortitude.
It is such a shame, but not unexpected, that Dirty Politics has fallen off the news cycle somewhat in the last week. It was like Judith ‘Princess Diana’ Collins got the sack and the media went, “oooh sweet, we can stop talking about this.”
Some of us actually have many, many questions that remain unanswered. Media types reading this can click here to read some of those questions. John Key must, he just absolutely must answer them. Not doing so highlights just how ethically challenged the leadership of the National Party are.
September the twentieth is a chance for New Zealand to set up a royal commission into political corruption. Voting for the National Party means that will definitely not happen.
I just wanted to set the record straight on some of the dross that’s been swirling around in Wellington for the past couple of days. It’s clear to me, and the rest of New Zealand, that we are sick of left-wing nutters jumping on the Kim Dotcom twitter train to Watergateville. I will not be taking that train.
This is a slanted, one-sided smear and I’m not going to tell you our side.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters to New Zealanders is me saying, “at the end of the day” before many of my sentences. Farrar has run it past our focus groups and it’s received a 32% approval rating. This is in marked contrast to Labour’s constant “thanks for attending our latest policy launch” which barely scrapes a 61.76% rating.
For too much of this campaign, Labour have been playing dirty politics by releasing a raft of sound policy. At the end of the day, this is ridiculous. The Labour we all knew and loved under Phil Goff couldn’t handle a one-liner in a leader’s debate. This Labour is full of ideas. At the end of the day, I hate it.
At the end of the day New Zealanders will decide. Do they want a government who has a vision that creates a vibrant and competitive New Zealand full of jobs and hopes and dreams or do they want THREE MORE YEARS!
Because at the end of the day it’s all about THREE MORE YEARS!!!
There were a few interestingly fruitful statements of anguish following my explanation yesterday regarding our reporting on David Cunliffe’s recent holiday.
As I said yesterday, the fact that John Key was on holiday at the same time, and for much longer, and in a far warmer and far further away place has absolutely nothing to do with our reporting into the 2-day break of Mr Cunliffe.
It’s also important to point out a few things.
Firstly, when the Labour Party released their comprehensive and thoroughly well thought out education policy at their congress last week, people were still speaking about Mr Cunliffe apologising for being a man. We know this because several of those people have very well-read blog sites. Those sites were talking about it so that must mean than everybody was. Nowhere on those blog sites was reference made to Labour’s education policy. If there was, it was all very, very negative.
Secondly, I don’t feel the need I have to defend myself. We in the media have a great deal of responsibility in reporting the news as it happens. The fact that Mr Cunliffe’s important policy news is nowhere near as important as we in the media trying to dismantle his arguments in case people decide they actually hate John Key and want to start voting Labour or, god forbid, the Greens.
Thirdly, I have no other points to make. I feel my previous points succinctly sum up my position and the positions held my many of the people who own me.