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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ask not for whom the worm turns… 

A quick overall impression of tonight’s TV3 leader’s debate, before the official pundits speak and declare Turia the clear winner. Or at least colour my memory of it all.

First point, I bet Jim & Pete are pleased they went to court, because as far as the worm was concerned, they were the shit (err, manure). When they actually stick to matters of social and economic policy – and leave culture wars and drug wars the hell alone – they’re actually tolerable. Jim even sounded like someone who knew what progressive meant. Alas, I fear it’s temporary.

Enough about the bit players … well, no, actually. I thought Winston Peters was a disaster, with about 5 buzz words in every sentence, no structure, just a rambling rapid fire say-anything approach that didn’t make a lick of sense. He even appeared to half-commit him to supporting National. L_O_S_E_R.

Fitzsimmons was reasonable, but seemed to find it hard-going to get her message across in an exciting manner. Tried hard but didn’t get much traction. Still, she was doing well compared to Turia. The problem with the latter, and the Maori Party more generally, is that they don’t offer New Zealand anything. They’re a race party, which seeks to improve the lot of one sub-group of society, potentially at the expense of everyone else. At least every other party there has *something* which every potential voter can relate to (err, well perhaps not NZF, no hang on there was the billion tree thing again).

Rodney, Rodney, Rodney … well, he’s got a sense of humour, but he fall into the old trick of “well my joke worked once, so I’ll repeat it 5 minutes later”. Yep, the whole “bossy britches” thing fell flat the second time around. He was also on the receiving end of the best line of the night. Rodney said something to the effect of “Jim’s not a gentleman” and Jim replied “At least I’m going back to Parliament.” Even Rodney had to smile at that one. Still, with a little luck Jim might be wrong.

Now on to the big fish … The Don stumbled with his first words, but then picked up strength quickly, and did well in his first couple of talks as far as the worm was concerned. Dropped popular buzz words. By the second half the worm seemed to be tiring of him … he became somewhat hectoring, and was dragged into the area of asset sales - about as popular with the worm as mentioning “Te Tiriti” ha ha ha. His final comments were a bit of a “promise anything” debacle, Peters-esque but without the senseless bluster. Overall, not bad for a relative newbie.

Helen Clark was solid throughout, and seemed to gain some strength over the course of the debate, while Don’s fortunes ebbed rather dramatically. Good on her for promising “no involvement in dubious foreign wars” … an important point to make I thought. Solid, without setting the world on fire. I don’t think either of the major parties won or lost significant ground tonight … which is probably the best they can hope for.

Short term poll impacts? United Future and the Progressives to gain a percentage point or two each; NZF to continue its downward slide to its core 4-5% support; the Greens steady; and Labour and National steady or down one point each at most. Oh yeah, Maori Party no change either.


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