Wellington Scoop

Getting personal

by Lindsay Shelton
Kerry Prendergast had a letter in the DomPost last week bemoaning the political debate when it gets personal and saying it should stick to the issues.

Till I read her letter I hadn’t noticed many personal remarks during the election campaign. But then I started to investigate.

Rex Nicolls’ tweeted criticism of Celia Wade-Brown’s dress was definitely in the personal category.

Why is Celia wearing the same dress for the entire mayoral campaign? And it isn’t flattering at all…. Shouldn’t a friend take her aside?

Nicola Young’s billboard in Manner Street is breathtakingly personal, too, with her claim that she’d be “a mayor who won’t make you cringe.”


Karma prevailed however, when Dave Armstrong wrote:

“She is asking us to ‘Think Young’ and ‘Vote Young’ even though she appears to be about the same age as Old St Pauls.”

That’s a bit personal too. But Dave isn’t a candidate.

The toughest personal comment so far has come from another non-candidate, Aucklander Denise Ritchie, who was offended by John Morrison’s much-quoted shower joke. She described him as

a sexist relic from a bygone era

I haven’t seen any response.

Personal comments can, of course, be muted. Consider Celia Wade-Brown using the third-person, but not naming names, in Saturday’s DomPost:

“I’m honest, fair and open-minded, have never endorsed any questionable product, nor threatened staff, nor plagiarised other people’s words. Consider the track record of candidates – do they criticise organisations they are part of or try to fix them?”

Threatening staff? That sounds personal. John Morrison came close in an extraordinary statement today in which, sounding angry, he alleged

The current leadership … has encouraged councillor (sic) officers to stop everything and do nothing… The staff has forgotten their job is to provide a service to the people of Wellington and they’ve forgotten how to do good positive things.

Candidate Mark Peck, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that the current leadership is having any influence:

The perception is that this council has been leaderless and that Council officers have assumed control … Power hates a vacuum and the vacuum … has been filled by Dr Lavery and his team.

Of course, you can’t get much more personal than …


…when it’s all in the family.


  1. Simon Swampy Marsh, 8. October 2013, 17:43

    I’ve got the loveliest kids in the world and I’ve promised to increase their pocket money by ten cents at their birthday.

  2. Alana, 8. October 2013, 22:03

    I think we hope that council debates issues rather than throw personal barbs. If the council meetings were televised, viewers could decide for themselves.

  3. Rudi, 9. October 2013, 2:26

    How refreshing! They should stick to the issues at hand.
    Maybe there is a solution. Dompost Oct 8 opinion page under “Points” is a letter from Gerry Cuneen. What a great idea! All the promises of elected members to be put on the Chamber wall, and ticked off as they achieve them.
    Maybe we could rate them on Wellington.Scoop, and put them on WCC Watch “Soap box” quarterly to hear their achievements thus far.
    This new council MUST be more transparent and accountable!

  4. Ian, 9. October 2013, 6:46

    Mean bugger – I will be following the advice of your kids.

  5. Barbara, 9. October 2013, 18:32

    And don’t forget Morrison’s much repeated claim about the “appalling” relationship between central govt and Wellington Council….totally refuted by none other than PM John Key. He said any claim that suggested the relationship was not good was nonsense!

  6. Rob Goulden, 10. October 2013, 1:39

    Good thinking Rudi!
    What if we took it one step further and what if we took up Alana’s suggestion and had our own TV Channel like CTV. See my ‘Soapbox’ on WCC Watch “Vote for the change you wish to see.” Imagine what we could achieve together!

    We could use it to televise open Council meetings, have updates of “What’s On in Wellington” our news and interviews – The potential is endless TV industry graduates and journalists could get work during or after their studies. Keeping Graduates in Wellington is a win/win for both the graduates and the City.

    Rob Goulden ED JP MBA
    Mayoral Candidate for Wellington

  7. Hayley Robinson, 10. October 2013, 2:29

    Rudi –

    those sound like fantastic ideas. Personally (if elected) I was planning to stick things on my own wall and tick them off. And bore people with weekly website updates about what they are PAYING me to do.

    Submitting quarterly progress reports is fine with me.

    P.S. may I have some Brownie points for being the first candidate to hand in their nomination forms? I have no fear of paperwork (especially when it’s two bits of paper and a photo; seriously, how hard was that?).

    Hayley Robinson
    Onslow-Western ward candidate for Council

  8. JC, 10. October 2013, 7:36

    Barbara – how is that personal? It seems to me that was a critique (whether it is correct or not) of the mayor’s job performance. 100% issues based.

  9. Rudi, 10. October 2013, 16:35

    Thanks for your support Hayley, and yes you may have brownie points! Mayoral candidate Rob Goulden took up Alana’s suggestion of a Wellington TV station like CTV. Think we should keep that one too
    All the very best for Saturday, I’ll watch with interest.