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.