Most of what every mainstream candidate had to say on the night was both instantly forgettable and intended only for short-term political advantage. But there was one thing one candidate said that is now going to dog her through the rest of the campaign. Maybe longer. It will probably be the meeting’s headline tomorrow morning. I say “her” because the foot in the mouth belonged to Melissa Lee.
Asked to explain how the new motorway would most help the good people of Mt Albert, she expained that it would stop the bad people of South Auckland driving to Mt Albert to burgle people’s homes. Asked to clarify by a questioner, she repeated the claim. Showing she’s truly not one to stop digging when she creates a big hole for herself — a hole as big as the number of open mouths in the room — she insisted that the local police commander had told her this very morning that the biggest issue with which he has to deal is the number of South Aucklanders driving to Mt Albert to burgle people’s homes.
I swear I am not making this up. It’s true that the likely winner of the by-election, David Shearer, grew up in South Auckland . . . and in being Labour’s “machine candidate” he could be said to be burgling the seat . . . but what the hell she was talking about, only Melissa Lee herself would know. Probably.
It was as incongruous and frankly ludicrous as Jenny Shipley’s comment in Parliament several years ago (apropos of nothing relevant) that Polynesians tend “to climb in the windows of other New Zealanders at night.” And it deserves to be treated with equal contempt.
We predicted something like this would happen but I’m still shocked it’s happened so quickly. From a credible performance on Q+A last Sunday to a political career in tatters by Wednesday.
The funny thing about shocking events is sometimes it’s the little details that stand out. I keep thinking – but won’t a motorway make it easier for South Aucklanders to get to Mt Albert?