Politicians who want to share the stage with John Key at his only multi-candidate electorate event have been warned they shouldn’t even mention his name.
Candidates vying for the safe National seat of Helensville include Laila Harre, leader of the Internet Party, who is taking on Key because ”the prime minister has some explaining to do”, and she wants a head-to-head debate.
But when Key lines up at the Kumeu Baptist Church northwest of Auckland on Monday, there will be no chance for her to do so.
”It’s not a debate. Please don’t call it a debate,” meeting organiser Holly Ryan said, describing the event as a ”cross-party candidates’ meeting” to give the public a chance to have questions answered.
Those questions must be submitted, in writing, before the event starts.
”There is to be no debate at all. Candidates have been warned they will be thrown out if they mention other candidates or attack any other parties, or anything else like that, at all,” Ryan said.
Silence would be demanded from everyone but the speaker, with one warning before those disrupting the meeting would be removed.
”It’s on that basis that the prime minister agreed to be there.”
A spokeswoman for Key said he would take part in only one multi-candidate event in his electorate, which was ”the same as the last election campaign”.
His office had played no role in the shaping of the rules for the event, she said.
I must admit a degree of confusion. Either Key agreed to attend on the basis of the restricted rules or he didn’t. With none of the other candidates wanting these rules in place his office can be the only source for the rules. As said by Puddleglum in open mike one of these versions must be wrong. Key’s office has this ability to make even simple statements adopt twisted meanings but this continuous manipulation of simple language is really tiresome.
Oh for the good old days when politicians were willing to stand up and debate the issues.
Update. The organisers are refusing to allow Penny Bright to speak. What sort of public meeting is it?