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Open debate

Written By: - Date published: 5:49 pm, August 2nd, 2011 - 129 comments
Categories: accountability, election 2011, john key, phil goff - Tags: ,

This development is going to generate a fair bit of discussion in the media! Duncan Garner reports:

Key, Goff refuse debate with minor parties

The public will once again be denied the opportunity to see John Key and Phil Goff debate all the minor party leaders during the election campaign. Key and Goff have teamed up to turn down TV3’s approach and desire for a 90 minute prime time television debate featuring all the party leaders.


Key says the election is about “who is Prime Minister”, not about who can work together.

Pure arrogance. PMs come and go at the whim of their parties. The election is about which parties form a government. Maybe the electorate will choose to remind Key of that fact.

And because Key won’t do it, Goff has fallen in behind saying he will debate Key anywhere Key wants to front. That means Goff won’t do it either. This is the same cosy backroom deal Helen Clark and John Key did in 2008 – ignore the minor party leaders on the big stage – and debate amongst themselves.

But Goff could and should have taken a different approach. He could have accepted our offer and forced the Prime Minister’s hand. Key would have been the only leader not there. He would have been forced to the table. He would have been subject to taunts of “chicken” had he not fronted. Goff has lost a prime opportunity. He should have taken the risk.

I agree. These “one on one” debates further build the mindset of “presidential” style politics in NZ, and it’s a mindset I think we could well do without. Let’s hear from everyone, and let it be about policies, not politicians.

I can see I think where Goff is coming from. He looks forward to debating Key personally, and expects to come off best in the encounters. It’s good to display that kind of confidence. But bigger picture I think it’s still a mistake. I’d like to see the leaders of major parties sharing the stage, and debating ideas with all comers.

129 comments on “Open debate”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    All so-called debates are circuses in which all the issues that actually matter are avoided like the plague and the participants churn out platitudes in answer to rigged questions.

    I won’t be wasting any of my time watching any of them.

  2. Kevin Welsh 2

    I wonder if it has occurred to Duncan Garner that maybe this is what happens when his barely disguised political sympathies rule over balance in his reporting?

    Maybe this is just Phil Goff giving a not so subtle kick to the nuts to the Pie Boy.

  3. fabregas4 3

    Goff should have said no.

  4. just saying 5

    And Labour is keeping Goff on because?

    Quite apart from being out of touch with reality if he imagines he will best Key one-on-one, it is yet another anti-democratic action from Goff, and yet another of the political blunders for which he has become famous.

    • Um Key made the decision and Goff went along with it.  I understand why Goff would prefer the ability to debate properly with Key without the others there, but I think that all leaders should take part.

      But good attempted transfer of blame though. 

      • AAMC 5.1.1

        I’d call it a lost opportunity.

      • just saying 5.1.2

        You don’t think “going along” with someone else’s decision without the sightest protest qualifies as a decision?

        Phew, thank God Goff isn’t responsible for all those pathetic and embarrassing ‘me too’ actions. The poor guy had no choice. Exactly what the nation is looking for in a PM.

      • Richard 5.1.3

        Yes, Key is behaving like his usual facile, anti-democratic self. But Goff is *supporting* Key. You can’t blame Key for Goff’s actions.

        It is issues exactly like this, that mean I am not voting for Labour.

        I’m voting for Mana.

  5. Rich 6

    Is this even legal? Aren’t the broadcasters obliged to give each party equal access – if Key won’t play, they should have a Lab/Green/ACT/MaoriNat/Mana debate.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Broadcasters can’t force people to participate.

      • Rich 6.1.1

        No, but they can be required to invite everyone or not have a debate. If parties don’t turn up, then it’s their call.

      • mickysavage 6.1.2

        Jim Anderton succeeded in 2005 in an application to review.  He applied to the High Court for review of a decision to exclude him from a leader’s debate and succeeded.  Some details are at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0508/S00130.htm

        Sorry will look tomorrow for more information but the decision may be capable of review. 

    • Blighty 6.2

      except Goff wouldn’t be there

  6. vto 7

    The solution is easy…

    Goff should say he will take part in an all-party debate only. Then Key can wank.,. I mean debate,, himself alone. Perhaps with a picture of Liz Hurley on hand.

    If you lefty labourites let this happen then you deserve to lose. You’re getting outsmarted, you need to be quicker on your feet.

    • AAMC 7.1

      Agree, Goff could have looked like he actually wants to participate in our proportional democracy, leaving Key to look like the elitist he is.

      He should have said, sure, I’ll go toe to toe with Key, but I’d rather we were all there together, so why don’t we do both. Even if it didn’t happen, he would have looked inclusive.

      Looks to me like they’ve been paying too close attention to the Debt Ceiling debacle.

      This is what Krugman had to say about that;
      “Many pundits view taking a position in the middle of the political spectrum as a virtue in itself. I don’t. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily reside in the middle of the road, and I want leaders who do the right thing, not the centrist thing.”

      • just saying 7.1.1

        Maybe we could slip that link into Pete Squirrel’s suggestion box.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.2

        The democrats in the States have lost it, Obama gained nothing, no extra revenue, no taxes on the rich, and the Republicans got a deal around the spending cuts they wanted.

        Its The Bankers Party on one side and The Other Bankers Party on the other.

        It’s “free choice” as long as its out of the 2 choices they want you to have.

        • AAMC

          Obama has just finally acknowledged that he is after all a Republican. You just need to look at his increased use of drones, extension of his wars into Pakistan and Yemen, Guantanamo still open and now this Austerity move with no change in their dismal tax rate.

          Off topic sorry, but all of our leaders do seem to mimic America’s style of politics. To come back to an NZ context, here Juan Cole has an interesting graph outlining tax’s in the OECD in 2009; look at that, we didn’t have high tax’s after all, appreciate you’re all conscious of this already.

          • Colonial Viper

            NZ needs to recreate its own way of doing things, and come up with leaders willing to do it Aoeteroa style.

            Not in the style of the bloody US Republicrats or the olde world UK system.

  7. Mac1 8

    I think some questions need to be asked here? What is a minor party? Will Goff and Key have to stand on the same platform as the Wacky Baccy party and the Empire Royalists and anybody else who manages to form themselves a party?

    What other debates will be scheduled? Will there be minor party leaders’ debates as I seem to remember from last time? What TV time will be granted to other spokespeople from the parties so that we can judge the calibre of those lesser but still important luminaries such as potential finance, Social Welfare, Education, Health ministers etc etc.

    Finally, does anybody remember the strange anomaly of the Worm which gave Peter Dunne extraordinary publicity and votes which he has not repeated since those days, not having had that opportunity since?

    The two main party leaders should debate head to head in my view. They are after all the ones who stand best to be PM after November 26, and who will, importantly, form the next government. However, I do agree that NZ politics has become too focussed on the leaders. I would like to see good national exposure to other party leaders and also to the politicians who stand a good chance of being important members of the new government.

    I would also like to see debates conducted in a useful way for voters to decide, and not just be a vehicle for ‘personalities’ to show off a la Holmes et al.

    • AAMC 8.1

      “I would also like to see debates conducted in a useful way for voters”

      We might need to import a real journalist to host the debates then, cause there is currently a massive fail from all practitioners in the MSM.

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1

        Julian Wilcox from MaoriTV is the goods. Other than that yeah, we could be served better.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      Determining who is a valid minor party is easy – anyone with an MP in Parliament today.

      And those registered parties without MPs – should get some TV time for a debate of their own as well.

      • Pete George 8.2.1

        I think that’s the best way to differentiate – but if you wanted to be provocative you could make it “any party leader in Parliament today”.

    • freedom 8.3

      If you qualify for the Electoral Ballot you qualify for the debate. It’s called Democracy not Popularity. Excluding a party for not being in Parliament is a self fulfilling and elitist restriction on participation in a functioning Parliamentary Democracy

  8. chris73 9

    I agree with John Key doing this (if its good enough for Helen…) and I think Goff did the right thing in agreeing to this

    Why should they debate with the minor parties, the minor parties can debate amongst themselves but having more time for the two that could be PM is much more worthwhile

    Also where could it end? Aotearoa Legalise Canabis Party, Communist Party (or whatever name they’re under) Bill and Ben party (well maybe not ;))

    • Bored 9.1

      Rubbish C73, its actually that Winston would slay Key on a TV debate, and Keys far too frightened of losing face that he wont show for that appointment. Goffs easy meat by comparison. Last thing Key wants is Ma and Pa seeing the ugly truth and running off Gold Card in hand back to Winnie.

      • AAMC 9.1.1

        They should do both. We don’t have – and hopefully won’t have – a FPP system, and so the smaller parties should have the opportunity to debate with the main leaders.

      • chris73 9.1.2

        You don’t get to make a 50 million dollar fortune and become PM of a country by being stupid

        Winston is a very good speaker, why would you give him a platform…

        • Pete George

          It doesn’t matter who might do what in a debate.

          We should have an open democracy. Elections are one of the few opportunities for people to have a say, we mustn’t allow politicians to dictate what sort of campaign suits them.

        • Ianupnorth

          FFS he was a money trader = professional gambler – luck, not skill!

          • Colonial Viper

            I’d say that some people playing pokies have a lot of skill at playing pokies. I’ve seen them in action.

            However, at the end of the day trying to make out that this makes them “good business people” etc. is just ludicrous. And people who wear suits and ties should frequently be doubted. They are more likely to be faux experts then real ones.

            There was good reason why the bankers and moneylenders of old were treated with high suspicion.

          • chris73

            So his education was luck, his working his way up the ladder was luck, everything hes done is luck?

            You do know the old adage of the harder you work the luckier you get…

            • McFlock

              Luck, shifting the blame onto subordinates, and a vacant smile. Judging by his prime ministership, of course.

              Edit: oh, and his education was taxpayer funded. Now part-timers can’t even get a fucking loan for course costs. So “stamping on the fingers of other people on the ladder” should probably be included.

              • chris73

                Wow you make it sound so easy

                • McFlock

                  It is if you’re not inhibited by conscience.
                  But most of it’s luck. And a good start from the welfare state he’s dismantling behind him.

            • lefty

              Once you put the suit on and join the bankers club you don’t need luck. The pack is automatically stacked in your favour.

            • Vicky32

              You do know the old adage of the harder you work the luckier you get…

              That adage isn’t worth the breath it takes to say it. and it’s only the smug, and yes, the unreasonably lucky I have ever heard say it! F’r instance, there are 100s of us out here, who would be lucky to get the chance to work at all!

    • felix 9.2

      Why shouldn’t small parties be involved in debates, chris73?

      Why are you so scared of democracy?

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        He’s Tory, only the born to rule should have airtime.

        Of course Key would look pretty stupid preening for an hour on stage by himself so now he has Goff to keep him company.

      • chris73 9.2.2

        I’d rather hear more from the two who are likely to be PM than the support partners

        • Colonial Viper

          Gotta get out of that FPP mindset mate, the small parties can make and break the deals in an MMP environment.

        • felix

          Understandable I suppose, but that’s not really what you said earlier.

          Why shouldn’t Key debate the leaders of smaller parties? Why shouldn’t Goff?

          Why shouldn’t their ideas be put to the test on a level footing with other parties?

          Shit, why don’t we do away with debate and just interview the leader of the largest party? They’re most likely to be PM, aren’t they?

          • chris73

            I wasn’t on this site in 2008, if you were can you remind me what people thought of only Helen Clark and John Key debating each other

  9. davidc 10

    Key knows that Goff cant decline to oppose him, Goff needs to try to gain some traction with the punters so is forced to play by whatever rules Key offers.
    Key also knows one on one he will utterly smash Goff in the eyes of the public.

    On a lighter note tho…seeing the (6?) minors go at it would be a laugh! Team tactics will win out!

    Self edit… Would Winston even be invited? I mean he isnt showing on ipredict now!

    Re edit: I refreshed and WinstonFirst was back on ipredict. Volatile much!

  10. Colonial Viper 11


    The Left is a Broad Church. Labour should be supporting multi-party democracy 100%, with ACTION not WORDS.

    Agreeing to this Presidential style debate plays right into Key’s strengths and National’s framing.

    Fraking Labour in the UK couldn’t bring themselves to wholeheartedly support moves to a more proportional voting system there either, because it would encourage a plurality of political parties.


    • RobC 11.1

      100% agree. I’d add that Goff needs some serious independent advice if he believes he can out-debate Key, based on what I have seen from question time over the past few months

  11. Pascal's bookie 12

    Personally I think most debates are garbage, not helped by crapulistic hosting.

    Glowing exception to that rule is Julian Wilcox who was a legend moderating Don Brash V Pita Sharples.

    So if I can’t have Wilcox moderating the poo flinging, I want half hour interviews of each leader by someone trained in getting answers. Like a QC say. And I’ll have my pony with laser beams plz, and the pricks under oath.

    K thx bai

  12. gobsmacked 13

    Yet again, Russel Norman comes out looking better than Phil Goff.

    And it’s all so predictable and avoidable. Is there nobody at Labour with any grasp of strategy? Nobody who actually spends five minutes thinking about this stuff? Week in, week out, same old “Politics For Beginners” – fail.

    How hard is it to understand the following …

    1. There are TV debates in every election campaign.
    2. So, before that, there are debates about those TV debates, in every campaign.
    3. Therefore Goff had to be prepared for this.
    4. Therefore, Goff had to anticipate Key’s approach – which was entirely predictable.
    (i.e. what anyone would do in his position)
    5. Therefore, Goff had an opportunity to take the initiative.

    “Inititative” could have been many things … announcing his plans in advance, calling on TV networks to commit to the public, saying “the people are our employers, we should show up for the interview”, labelling it a Democracy Pledge or some such, getting other parties to sign it, or challenging Key to a specific kind of debate – take your pick – e.g. Helensville and Roskill town hall meetings, a Christchurch special, anything outside the box, anything with an ounce of originality and energy and incisiveness and aggression and …

    oh fuck, what’s the point. It’s Goff’s Labour. It’s a Risk-Free, Idea-Free Zone. Sit back, wait for Key to move, then feebly say “Me too!”. Yes, that’s working so well, isn’t it?

    Another day, another missed opportunity. No change there.

    • vto 13.1

      Agreed. Goff looks like he is being simply dragged along for the ride. Which he is.

      But it is not too late.

      Change course on this tonight Goff. Bring a headline in the new morning. Leave Key a-swingin’.

      After all, for the vast 99% of people this is way off the radar so any about change-face will simply pass by like that last breezy thing …

    • Yet again, Russel Norman comes out looking better than Phil Goff.

      Sad but strikingly true.

      The leaders should be dictating nothing regarding the campaign. Elections are for people. We shouldn’t hope for one leader or the other to “do the decent thing”, we should be telling them what is acceptable to us.

  13. Mike 14

    When was the last time there was a TV debate with the leaders of National, Labour and the minor parties – 1999?

    • gobsmacked 14.1

      Mike – 2005. And 2002 before that (Dunne’s worm).

      You might remember Dunne and Anderton going to court to be included in 2005.

  14. Mainstream media and this government’s ability to manipulate it for their own ends will dictate the results of this election. We need our Fourth Estate to become more assertive and do their job!

  15. Terry 16

    The very thought of Goff imagining he can square up to Key makes me squirm (again). Key will use the usual tactic of abuse, rudeness, insult, and screeching over top. Afterwards, what will Goff do? As usual, shrug his shoulders. Pitiful. I am apolitical. Which politician deserves my vote? Possibly Winston, believe it or not!!

  16. Erentz 17

    Simple solution surely: do both. Goff can still turn around now and ask for an all leaders debate as well can’t he? Force Key to step up, and he will have to show.

  17. Matthew Hooton 18

    Let’s just bring this back to one very simple point: If you were John Key or Phil Goff why on earth would you want to appear in a TV circus with Russel Norman, Don Brash, Peter Dunne, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Winston Peters (have I left anyone out?)? And maybe with a worm that rewards “I will increase education spending” and “I will cut taxes” but mocks “we have difficult choices to make”. It is not like Key and Goff can be made to appear in a TV format that is not in their interests.

    • vto 18.1

      If you were Goff why would you want to appear with Key?

      It’s not as if anything important will be discussed with any credibility.

    • Colonial Viper 18.2

      And as voters interested in democratic debate we should acquiesce in this top down farce?

      Why let our freedom of choice be whittled away to the extent that it is any flavour you want as long as its vanilla or hokey pokey?

    • Carol 18.3

      Russel Norman, Don Brash, Peter Dunne, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Winston Peters (have I left anyone out?)?

      Maybe a woman or 2?

      • R 18.3.1

        good point, Carol, and one which worries me too. Co-leadership is all women seem to have access to in this iteration of the system. Perhaps we have a long time to wait, swallowing the taste of our betrayal of a certain Ms K Sheppard?

        • Carol

          Indeed R. But I also find it curious that Matthew, with a couple of pairs of co-leaders to choose from, chose the male in each pair – especially as I think the females are the more capable of the pairs.

    • gobsmacked 18.4


      Key is acting in his interests. Goff isn’t acting in his interests.

      You’re right, they can’t be made to appear. But they can be made to look bad by not appearing. Goff had a chance to put pressure on Key, and blew it.

    • Let’s just bring this back to one very simple point:

      Let’s just bring this back to one simpler point – an election is one part of democracy in particular that the people should not accept any party leader trying to dictate anything, let alone accepting them picking and choosing how they should appear and in what debates they should appear.

      I can’t believe that media should accept this, if they do they are betraying their customers.

      We need to let the media know and we need to let the politicians know that democracy is ours, elections are ours, and they’re not for their manipulation and convenience.

    • AAMC 18.6

      If you were Goff you should see the opportunity to call Key out, whether you’d rather debate him alone or not.

      We have a proportional system, we should see all that is on offer.

    • Puddleglum 18.7

      If you were John Key or Phil Goff why on earth would you want to appear in a TV circus with Russel Norman, Don Brash, Peter Dunne, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Winston Peters?

      Well, let’s start with the obvious: (1) By appearing with all and sundry you get to demonstrate conclusively why your party (and yourself) is head and shoulders above the minnows – assuming of course that you and your party are. That is, it helps to emphasise why your party is a ‘major’ rather than ‘minor’ party through direct comparison.

      (2) Another reason might involve backing yourself to project a certain humility and respect for democracy that might warm the cockles of the voters’ hearts. 

      (3) A further reason might be that you actually do believe that the policies, vision, etc. that you hold to is the best for New Zealand of any on offer and you want the chance to show that to New Zealanders by direct comparison.

      (4) Finally, you don’t simply want to win by exploiting the psychological benefit of seeming to be ‘above the fray’ of the ‘circus’ by excluding yourself from political debate.

      Of course, if (1) you know you and your party aren’t ‘head and shoulders’ above the others and it’s actually all about smoke and mirrors, the backing of powerful interest groups and money; and, (2) you don’t back yourself to project humility and respect for democracy; and, (3) you actually don’t believe that your policies, vision, etc. are the best (or you actually don’t have any vision); and, (4) you would like to win by exploiting the psychological benefit of appearing ‘above the fray’ because you don’t think you can win on any other grounds or ‘level playing field’ then, ‘yes’ you probably wouldn’t want to appear with the other leaders. 

    • R 18.8

      Because every party leader in this country owes their party, their constituents and their potential voters the capacity and ability to represent and argue/defend their policies, in any medium they can possibly access in an election year.

      Shock, horror, Matthew. Perhaps you’d prefer a ‘Woman’s Day’ -run ‘NZ’s Top PM contest’ as opposed to the proportionally representative system that was democratically awarded by the nation to their elected representatives.

      Much as JK despises Aotearoa, we are not America. Yet.

      ETA: Ugh. You may as well have said ‘let them eat brioche’. That’s how relevant you are.

  18. Reality Bytes 19

    TV is a joke.

    Any savvy politcal party should shun it and embrace Internet broadcast of debates with the same level of production values/quality as made for TV.

    Goff should boycott the debate if Key is too pussy to go toe to toe with Winston and Norman.

    Seriously, Key would look like an utter knob if he went ahead with it debating by himself, he would be an absolute laughing stock and utter joke that could only play out well for Goff.

    Meantime all the other parties could have a proper debate embracing the modern forums of Internet broadcast etc, whilst we all laugh at key talking to himself.

    Shame Goff doesn’t cotton on to this strategy. He’s not going to win this by himself, he needs the Greens and NZF to combat key too if it’s going to be mainstream TV, and if ACT was on too, they’d only embaress the Nats even further. Agreeing for a 1 v 1 with Key on prime time telly is fail strategy imo, when you consider all the other angles that could have been played here.

  19. ChrisH 20

    A most baffling tactical blunder IMHO, everyone knows that Key’s National’s strength, anything that frames the issue in presidential terms is obviously no good for Labour and makes Goff look like Jimmy Carter to Key’s Ronald Reagan, or Rowling to Muldoon, but without the benefit of incombency (!!!). And that’s quite apart from the democratic damage (and lack of logic) involved in excluding the minor MMP parties including future coalition partners required if Labour is to have any hope whatsoever of getting over the line. Key could have been made to look bad if he would not have debated the minor parties and Goff could have emerged as the inclusive leader of a broad popular front. Oh well, I guess when the present generation of political strategists are finally put out to pasture, we will get ones that can think in MMP terms.

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      There is still time for LAB to reconsider and pull back out of the trap before they are fully encircled.

    • McFlock 20.2

      If Key and Goff had the other leaders to debate against, several of the smaller parties would be getting easy points off Key – who doesn’t deal well with hard questions.
      If Goff and Key go head to head, Goff could pull it off, but would need to be challenging Key every inch of the way. If he fails even by a little bit, Garner et al will proceed to fellate Key on air. However, the other smaller parties would probably eat Brash alive in their debate (if it doesn’t become a Mana/MaoriP slanging fest).
      If Goff only debated with the smaller parties, he’d be the prime target for the others.
      What Goff could do is offer a few times to do the wider debate if Key is willing. If Key backtracks then all is good. If Key doesn’t (and he won’t) then during the “presidential debate” a fallback position is to point out that Key can’t really make plans without input from coalition partners – and pop in some choice Brashisms (better yet, paraphrasing Brashisms in the best possible way for the Left). Things like “cutting funding to healthcare, leaving sick babies untreated” would be good paraphrasing and extrapolations of Act policy. And gifting electorates to the junketing party, that sort of thing.

  20. Reality Bytes 21

    I appreciate substance over style, so I appreciate what Goff has to say over what Key has to say a lot of the time. But unfortunately there are also a lot of voters out there that have the opposite attitude and give priority to style over substance.

    I wonder if Goff is in Lester Burnham mode, i.e. “I’m just an ordinary guy, with nothing to lose”… He ain’t been PM yet, this is probably his last punt, the odds are stacked against him, he has nothing to lose. I wonder if that gives a him a “zen-like Lester Burnham, fuck em all, it’s all or nothing time” attitude.

    He’s a smart guy, I just hope if he does end up going one to one with Key he focusses simply on slaying him and calling him out, forget educating us, just annihalte Key and call him out… There is SOOO much to work with. It would be truly awesome and election changing if done correctly, whilst even being hilarious and entertaining at the same time.

    • just saying 21.1

      I appreciate substance over style..

      So do I, unfortunately Goff has (publicly) shown no sign of either quality.

      he has nothing to lose

      He may have nothing to lose, but the nation has a lot to lose. As for zen-like you must be joking, he is the antithesis of calm, open and realistic. The chaos on the other hand, he has down pat.
      Key is an empty talking head ( a David Brent, to quote Felix), and I agree that a decent debater would be spoiled for material to take him down.

      I ask again why is Goff still leader?

      • Reality Bytes 21.1.1

        Haha, yeah fair point… I’m just trying to make sense of it. I mean he must be rationalizing his non-challant response to himself somehow, and from what I’ve seen he’s not getting very emotional about the whole poli’ palava. That’s why I’m saying he seems almost zen-like, perhaps a little too chilled? But who know’s. If he’s going to go toe-to-toe with Key and have any hope he will need to come across as cool, maybe he’s psyching himself up for that. I’m just trying to make sense of his strategy because it seems over/super-confident to me.

        • billy fish

          Musings on the debate – it would be an interesting model to have an independent fact checking team. Pause every 15 minutes for a FC team to question dubious information.
          This gets around the “last word” problem of the last lie is the truth issue of a question rebuttal format

          Of course I simply fantasise.

  21. alex 22

    What is going on? Are we on the verge of going back to a 2 party system? That can only be bad news. I am genuinely frightened of the possibility of a National dictatorship after the election. Someone needs to tell people, theres a lot more to National than just benign friendly John.

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Listened to Bryan Edwards this afternoon. Reckon he is correct – people still aren’t feeling or behaving like it is an election year. Chances are that they are really only going to start paying attention to politics at the start of November.

      The danger is of course that the country sleepwalks into an increased National majority and we are truly sold down the river.

      • AAMC 22.1.1

        “The danger is of course that the country sleepwalks into an increased National majority and we are truly sold down the river.”

        Which plays to the point that’s been made a few times in this thread. The MSM doesn’t have a monopoly on information anymore. If all of those who are so dedicated to commenting on this blog spent a quarter of their energy engaging their not so politically focused friends and family and really went to town disseminating the graphs and you tube links and links to posts on this and other blogs via their facebook and via twitter and calling and txting radio stations we could start a diologue. Shit, you just need to txt bfm in regards to anything political and they read it out, to their entire listenership. Which other radio stations do that? Find out, exploit it.

        Time to learn from the Arab Spring, stop relying on antiquated and vested interests.


      • Deadly_NZ 22.1.2

        You know what would spark up the Labour party ? A David Cunliffe vs Blinglish No holds barred, death match debate.

        • Colonial Viper

          With one or two of the hot MPs from each side walking around the ring holding up the signs inbetween rounds!!!

  22. fatty 23

    I can understand Goff being stupid, but surely someone else could point him in the right direction…
    Winston needs to debate Key on TV, its Goff’s only chance.

    Are Labour trying to lose this… is Ashton Kutcher going to reveal himself soon as the Labour Party strategist?

    At least in a few months Goff will be gone and the reds can think about being useful again

  23. burt 24


    I had a quick scan over some of the threads on political debates from 2008. I’m not seeing much consistency in your position on presidential style debates. Seems it was just fine and dandy. On The Standard: Clark Takes Round 2 you are jovial and supportive of the format.

    What’s changed rOb ?

    Oh, and boy they tore you a new one after tying you in knots in ‘The King Maker Debate’.

    • felix 24.1

      I don’t see the format being discussed. Can you point it out?

      • burt 24.1.1

        Well, no I don’t claim to have an example where rOb defended the format, but he certainly cheers his team loud and clear. Would you do that if your party leader was the PM and you were totally unimpressed with the format?

        • McFlock


          Edit: So if someone doesn’t like the 5% threshhold, they’re not allowed to give credit to any politician who performs competently?

          • felix

            If someone says or thinks anything, they’re not to say or think anything else.

            See burt for examples.

        • felix

          “Well, no I don’t claim to have an example where rOb defended the format”

          Yeah you did claim that, burt. It was right here: (To r0b)

          On The Standard: Clark Takes Round 2 you are jovial and supportive of the format.

          You remember writing that, don’t you burt? What did you think it meant?

  24. freedom 25

    this is a slightly edited repost from earlier in the day on another thread

    I propose a radical restructuring of the concept of a Leaders’ Debate. The Leaders’ Debate should be a full engagement on set issues with all balloted parties being represented in a 5 evening series of debates. Three debaters per debate all drawn from a hat a week before in a nationally televised draw, using the ‘lotto rules’ would be good. They are fair, tried and true and the symbolism is not without its mirth.

    here is how the draw works:
    All parties are put in the hat. The first draw of three is done, those three are left out, next draw, those three are left out, etc,. When the hat has one name left, irrespective of how many empty slots remain in the debate being drawn, all parties so far removed are put back in. The process continues until the debate roster is complete. Five nights, three debaters, fifteen slots, all will get representation and none should be favoured over any other. The Parties deceide who they send to speak. Simple, fair and doable.

    The series of debates are using questions from wherever. It does not really matter, what matters is the draw of the participants. Until we see the ballot we will not know final numbers obviously, but a rotating roster of debates where the Greens may be on stage with just ACT and United would be a good debate. National up against Mana with Progessive along for conscience would have its moments. Labour and Greens and Maori Party would be a riot and i suspect a hasty unforseen event would cause transmission to be interrupted soon into the broadcast.

    Give it some consideration. The media driven Election campaigns warrant an event of this scale. More and more influence is attributed to Tv Media so it makes sense for the Public to find a way to ask that the media become a constructive particpant and not just a manipulative tool.

    • R 25.1

      that would be awesome, but how would we make it freely available via mainstream media? Donations? I’d donate to a decent political channel if it was available online… However, anything which cost money would automatically skew the results/effect… Oh, wait…

      • Colonial Viper 25.1.1

        I’d donate to a decent political channel if it was available online…

        Would only need $500K pa to run.

        I’d put in 0.5% of that myself. Only 199 more volunteers to go.

        • burt

          You could run a political channel for $500K pa ? Good luck finding quality staff, paying depreciation on equipment, lease on premises and insurance for that. An HD video cam and a bit of space in the garage won’t really cut it CV.

          It would probably cost $500K to stage the debate. Would you been keen to fund 0.5% of that for a big round of debates once every 3 years ?

          • Colonial Viper

            You could learn a thing or two about assymetric campaigning…

            PS we wouldn’t be paying the kinds of rates that Garner, Espiner, Holmes etc would be interested in

            THATS THE POINT 🙂

          • felix

            “It would probably cost $500K to stage the debate.”

            Are you high? Do you know how simple it is to film people standing still and talking to each other?

            It’s 2011 burt. Your grandkids could sort it out for you after school.

        • R

          seriously, I’d defo want to be part of it. I’m not sure how to obtain an independent domain, organise things legally, etc., does anyone have any advice to share?

          • Colonial Viper

            Best done off line, you know *hush hush*. Plenty of people who visit this site have all the technical and legal knowledge required.

            The whole thing would need to be run by about 3.0-3.5 FTEs max and gain leverage by finding freelance commentors, writers and journalists willing to work for reduced rates. Content would be clearly partisan in nature, leaning towards social democratic and democratic socialist values, while disassembling RWNJ propoganda.

            There is a long list of notable people who never get interview time on the MSM who could be interviewed to generate original content. There are many blacklisted economists and commentators whom the MSM will never touch, preferring instead to go with some aparatchik from one of the big banks.

            Content sharing agreements with the likes of RNZ, Aljazeera, RTV, local TV stations and documentary providers/aggregators would be useful in bringing a broad local and international perspective, and add a scientific and historical perspective to current day happenings.

            There should be fun social segments on Thu Fri and Sat nights with solid revolutionary music videos.

            Finding synergies with The Standard would clearly be important 🙂

            • freedom

              If I had the resources i would be pushing this idea through every gimmicky PR co/booking agent, Magazine/ full page ads in Newspaper. I would be challenging the parties, all of them, to face up to the debate or explain in plain english why they choose not to. Then using that answer in as many creative ways as possible to name and shame. I so wish i had the resources to do this for this election.

              What i am striving for here is a re-engagement with the general public for our Democracy. A single debate between two fluffed up spinmeisters does nothing. A week of having a Party’s policies under the spotlight and the associated media games would do more for the information war of politicking than any number of pledge cards or flashy fold-ins.

              The whole thing can probably be funded from existing Election funds anyway, or perhaps additional funds can be attributed to the party funds or even better a small take from the MP’s endless payraises? Most people i know in the media arts would gladly donate their time to support a civic event of this magnitude. Many who work in TV would probably feel the same . There is a difference between a one off debate and a week of getting to the heart of a matter.

              A nationwide week of soap-box bravado that gets intstitutionalised as part of the Election Campaign process might begin to introduce a wider audience to the realitiy that policy really does affect your country more than who you end up with as PM.

              So that is my 2c , wish it could be more, maybe by next Election i can do something more definitive about it, this Election I will be doing whatever i can to engage people that this Election matters. That this Election is not a fait-accompli.

              I will use whatever i have available. Mostly it will be information drops in public spaces, emails, the almost useful FaceBook, generally just walking that fine line where you try not to piss off a few friends with facts and figures they do not want to hear and continuing until they begin to listen. You can do the same. Our future as a free country really does rely on removing National this year.

              • I thought that was an excellent comment until I got to the last sentence, that negates your expressed ideals substantially.

                You said: “What i am striving for here is a re-engagement with the general public for our Democracy.”

                You seem to be confusing “our Democracy” with your narrow aim.

                • freedom

                  your comment was pointed out to me so i hope you do not think i am being a hypocrite considering i said awhile ago i stopped reading your contributions. which itself is pretty stupid but it was a rough day. So figure that will make two retractions in one comment. ouch. good thing i do humble well 🙂

                  here is the second one, Pete, you are completely correct.. The last line is unnecessary and definitely steers the point of the issue away from my chosen port. Chocolate fish to PeteGeorge.

                  I ask a mod out there to remove the last sentence of this linked post

                  Open debate


                  [lprent: It got referred to so I don’t delete it. I have struck it out. ]

                  • freedom

                    much appreciated, and i see the sense in the strikeout.

                  • terryg

                    Freedom, nicely done. There’s nothing wrong with mistakes, only with denial thereof. Hell, mistakes are how we learn……

                    Pete George: I’ve read a number of really good comments from you over the last couple of days, in this thread and others; enough to revise my opinion of you (FWIW).

                    Maori TV might be a good place for these debates – they have some really good programming….


      • freedom 25.1.2

        doesn’t New Zealand still own a Television station? I believe it is called TVOne.

    • burt 25.2

      I think it would be like ice cream to political junkies but way to much for most partially (or not at all) interested viewers. The problem is we the few will want the majority to pay for our indulgence – because that’s how socialism works.

      Perhaps we could make the cost of political campaigns like ACC levies, most people have no idea how much they are actually paying overall.

      How about equal funding for all registered parties for a grand debate – Actually freedom you could register a political party with that as it’s only policy and all of who like the idea can give you our party vote. We could put you into the house to make it happen! It only takes 5% to have a crack at getting the other 95% to share the cost.

      • felix 25.2.1

        Let it all out burt.

      • Colonial Viper 25.2.2

        The problem is we the few will want the majority to pay for our indulgence – because that’s how socialism works.

        Amen for socialism, said the millionaire investors in Southern Canterbury Finance.

      • AAMC 25.2.3

        The privatization of profit an the socialization of risk.

        Anyway, I clearly read CV suggesting another 199 donators. Sounded like community action rather than socialism to me Burt.

      • freedom 25.2.4

        ‘I think it would be like ice cream to political junkies but way to much for most partially (or not at all) interested viewers. ”

        Burt why do you declare that most people would not engage with the debates. Are you nuts? This is a whole different beastie than a one off show-down. A week of nightly battles would easily be the highest rating show on TV by the third night. Simply because of how the media machine works and the animal it is. They would smell a fresh ratings pack and the blood would flow. Advertisers would be hammering down doors to get their slots. You have to break from your ‘it has always been and always thus will be’ Burt. It stunts your growth.

        Media changes, it is in its nature to adapt and advent ideas, look at reality Tv the last ten years. If I had told you a decade ago that a bunch of people cooking cakes would be one of the highest regular rated shows in TV history, you would have handed me medication.

        I would bet the futures of undiscovered rare metals that the only people not wanting this idea to progress would be the majority of politicians themselves, irrespective of their public statements.

  25. felix 26

    I found this thread where burt says he loves to spank himself with cucumbers: It’s here.

    Bit embarrassing burtie boy, considering your well documented hatred of cucumber fetishes.

    What? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never claimed that burt said anything about cucumbers at all, but he definitely said some other shit about something else, right?

  26. terryg 27

    It pains me to say this, as I am well aware of the ramifications, but:

    Fuck me, Labour DESERVE to lose this election. FFS Burts posts contain more sense than I am seeing from Labour (hint: none). Labour are utterly fucking clueless, in so many regards – like, say, repeatedly violating the election advertising act (or whatever its called).

    I had hoped getting rid of that craven media advisor John wots-his-face would help, but Goff et al seem to have gotten worse, not better. un-fucking-believable, and entirely self-inflicted. Thank fuck I’m not poor, because we’re in for a shit of a time when NACT win, right when we need it least – and AFAICT the damage will be irreperable. Aaaaaaaaarghfuck, I dont think I can take any more of this – time to bury myself in physics for a few years while my beautiful country shits itself into oblivion. Somebody wake me when its over…..

    • Colonial Viper 27.1

      time to bury myself in physics for a few years while my beautiful country shits itself into oblivion. Somebody wake me when its over…..

      You got one of those neat frozen carbonite hibernation systems? Might come in handy.

      Seriously, LAB is full of good people working very hard. The polls need only move from 32% in the BS MSM polls to 40% in the Poll Which Matters and Key is out.

      Seriously, thats all it will take. Thats why Key English Joyce are still sweating bullets every minute of every day, despite the MSM declaring hourly that “National will Govern Alone!!!! (So There!)”

      • terryg 27.1.1

        Hi CV,

        alas no, but I do have a sizeable pile of highly technical work within which I can subsume my consciousness for a year or three.

        I think you’re right about LAB having plenty of good people – but I dont think that Phil Goff is a capable leader. One might blame the advisors, but Goff is (allegedly) in charge…..

        You are of course dead right re. the only poll that counts (the election). Had I imaginary friends I would pray that happens; alas I dont, and frankly I cant see your +8% happening. The frustrating thing is that its clear it COULD – if only oh, I dunno, say LAB read this bloody website, and actually acted on some of the more erudite suggestions.

        I forget who remarked that LAB seem to see themselves as “the good guys” (not far from correct IMO) and interpret that as meaning they are always right by definition, but I reckon that was spot on.

        this debate twaddle perfectly illustrates my reasons for despair. How ignorant do Goff et al need to be to not notice that DonKey will win the personality contest if they allow it to become (remain, more like) one? do they even watch the MSM? if so, is there any comprehension whatsoever, let alone at a strategic level?

        This from someone who has voted party Green, constituent LAB at every election I’ve been here for. The bit that really irks is I’d like to slap LAB by not giving them my vote, but that will only make it worse…..


  27. Tangled up in blue 28

    The bottom line is that you can’t force parties to participate into a debate and understandably Labour and National don’t want a 90min group debate as this format doesn’t strategically suit them atm.

    Maybe MSM needs to have more frequent prime-time minor party debates right up to the election so the amount of exposure might mean the big parties start taking an interest.

    • freedom 28.1

      quick question, have you even read this thread?

      There are a dozen statements above that explain how the focus is on having the debate. Who turns up is entirely at the whim of the party and so would be their need to deal with the fallout from the public’s response to that decision.

      It is kind of a classic ‘If you build it they will come’ moment.

      It is up to us, the people, to build this idea. The MSM won’t do it. Why should they, they have all they want, vegetables locked into cooking shows. The cannibalistic nature of media is astonishing.

      • Tangled up in blue 28.1.1

        Afaik MSM haven’t said “no minor parties, no broadcast” so I assume that National & Labour will still be turning up for their debates like last election. All the other parties still get coverage just at different times. What makes you think that there will be a significant public response this time?

        • freedom

          if all they get is the status quo then the apportioned response will be apt

          if ‘they’ rose to the challenge ‘we’ should be willing to support it

          I still suspect you have not read the thread

          • Tangled up in blue

            I’ve skimmed it. Nothing really convinced me why it’s in the interest of JK & Goff to participate when the context is eight participants in a small time frame and it’s unlikely it would provide any kind of helpful debate.

            • freedom

              what eight participants in a small time frame are you referring to?
              Speaking for myself i proposed a fifteen member event in a series of three person debates over five nights. Hardly insubstantial in comparison to recent years’ efforts.

              if you are referring to the format we have had the last few years then you have not read or even skimmed this thread. There is an entirely different focus in the dialogue occuring here and you may have something useful to contribute, but if like many naysayers it is more about just adding to a list of veto remarks then i see why you would not bother

  28. Tangled up in blue 29

    Hey I’d like a different format too.

    My judgement about National & Labours refusal to debate is made in the context of which they’re actually facing, not an imaginary scenario that I would prefer.

  29. chris73 30

    I wasn’t on this site in 2008, if you were can you remind me what people thought of only Helen Clark and John Key debating each other

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