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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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05.10.2010

Endorsements from Sir Michael Fowler and others—and why the Paul Henry débâcle matters

Yesterday, as some of you know, Sir Michael Fowler endorsed me, saying that I am the ‘intelligent’ mayoral candidate and he likes the programme I have outlined for our city. It goes beyond what is on my campaign site, of course—the programme includes plans to bring Waterfront Ltd. back under council control, increased transparency through webcasting council meetings, streamlining the processes within the Council, and reviewing Wellington’s asset and risk management (which needs serious work). Most of these have been voiced during the last three weeks of very entertaining debates with my opponents.
   I’m grateful to get the endorsement of a three-term (1974–83) mayor and had the pleasure of campaigning with Sir Michael yesterday up in Brooklyn.
   He is right on many points. The present council is in disarray. And he believes I am more of a unifier. I imagine that is right: in branding, if you are going into a company to redo their strategy, you need unity. If you don’t have it, you need to find a way to create it.
   I was also encouraged by the fact that Sir Michael sees huge value in social networking. ‘You reach a literate, voting population,’ he told me. I am glad he is not as dismissive of technology as at least two of my opponents, who pay IT lip service and little more. He agrees with me that it can help create jobs and give a career pathway for our youth.
   Aside from Sir Michael’s endorsement, those of you who watched Back Benches, listened to Radio Active or watched the video Scoop know that Bernard O’Shaughnessy, one of my opponents, has asked his supporters to back me. I’m very grateful to Mr O’Shaughnessy as well for his support.
   And while it’s not asking supporters to give me their 1, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown has told her supporters to give me a 2 or, at least, a high ranking. I reciprocate that for Councillor Wade-Brown: if we want change, and we can rank our candidates, then please consider a 2 or a high ranking for her.
   Remember that your votes are due in the post by tomorrow (Wednesday). Our own small-sample poll shows that the newspaper one is inaccurate, and suggests that the race is far tighter than has been reported. But the margin of error is also quite large, so if I don’t put much stock in either, I won’t let them sway you. I’ve posted plenty over the last while, more so on Facebook, and I’ve met so many of you in person at the debates and forums, for you to know who the best and most engaged candidate is. One only wishes that more of these were televised!
   Vote with your hearts and minds, but the important thing is: vote.

Yesterday’s mainstream media was more taken with the débâcle surrounding breakfast TV host Paul Henry and his implication that the Governor-General, HE Sir Anand Satyanand, did not look and sound like a New Zealander. He asked the Prime Minister, John Key:

Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time … Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?

A strange comment, considering Sir Anand was born in Auckland, has had more years in New Zealand than Mr Henry himself, has a distinguished record of public service, and is definitely a New Zealander through and through. His judicial service is probably as recognized as that of former Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys.
   What Henry really wanted to say is that you can put in decades being a judge and, for the last few years, our viceregal representative, but if you are ethnic Indian—or, more to the point, not Caucasian—then you’re not “really a Kiwi”.
   As the mayoral candidate who would never get a Paul Henry backing because I look nothing like him, the furore struck a chord. Because there is a racist undercurrent in some circles that Henry represents. Any minority has witnessed it, particularly in areas where minorities have typically not ventured due to the earlier prejudices of a bygone age. I am sorry to note that it is still there and I have even noticed it in this election—fortunately not from the Wellington public, but from some of our establishment institutions.
   TVNZ initially defended the man (saying that he simply vocalizes what is on people’s minds) before suspending him (for a mere two weeks—I Tweeted a 30-day minimum would be appropriate). Henry stood by his comments before apologizing. But it all looks like too little, too late, as was the inaction by the Prime Minister, who critics say should have had Henry up on the comment during the interview.
   If one looks at the outrage on Twitter (a small sample, I know), then Henry is well out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders. He has a responsibility as someone who reaches over 100,000 people. And yesterday, he crossed the line. Intentional or not (and only he will ever know), this sort of thinking has no place on our airwaves except, perhaps, in a drama where Sam Tyler wakes up in 1973 and meets a tobacco-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe by the name of Gene Hunt.
   As one friend of mine says, Henry has a right to be a dork. However, we are paying for this man’s salary as he is employed by the state broadcaster, and he’s less happy with that. As am I. Make such insinuations in other parts of the civil service, and you’d get a more severe reprimand than a TV network defence and a delayed suspension. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand would know, and they worked for a state broadcaster, too. At least there, the BBC immediately recognized what was indefensible.

The fallout from the Henry incident—whom my friends note still appeared on telly this morning—included the resignation of Ben Gracewood as the show’s gadget commentator. Ben felt it was the last straw and Tweeted late last night, ‘Do you know what made me quit? I wanted to say this, and then realised I was holding back: what a f***ing cock that Paul Henry guy is.’
   Pop over to Ben’s blog where more of the debate has taken place. I think he did the right thing, and I applaud him for acting and having principles.

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Filed under: culture, internet, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 01.58

One Response to ‘Endorsements from Sir Michael Fowler and others—and why the Paul Henry débâcle matters’

  1. […] Sir Anand Satyanand, did not ‘look or sound like a New Zealander’.    That has been covered here before, but I read comments at the time that John Key’s predecessor, Helen Clark, would have taken Henry […]

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