Brian Edwards Media

John Banks – A Personal Reassessment

In a slim file in my office, marked ‘Legal’, I have a document dated ‘Thursday the 9th day of December 1993’.  It’s headed STATEMENT OF CLAIM. The claim is made by one John Archibald Banks of Whangarei, Member of Parliament (Plaintiff) and TV3 Network Services Limited (First Defendant) and Brian Finbar Myram Edwards of Auckland (Second Defendant). It’s a writ for defamation.

The writ refers to comments I’d made about Mr Banks on The Ralston Group. I can’t recall the context, but I began, ‘John Banks has to go,’ and finished, ‘So he has to go.’ I can’t repeat the lengthy bit in between, because Mr Banks might decide to issue another writ for defamation. Suffice to say, it expressed my opinion of his character at the time and it wasn’t flattering.

Anyway, TV3 indicated that it would defend the writ, Mr Banks (to my knowledge)  did nothing more about it and that was that.

You’ll understand that I was not a fan of the current Mayor of Auckland then and continued not to be a fan, until very recently. On numerous occasions I expressed my dislike of him publicly,  though rather more circumspectly.

I disliked him as a talk-back host on Radio Pacific. His world, it seemed to me, was divided into ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’, a view I thought simplistic and untrue.

I wasn’t much impressed when he was Mayor of Auckland from 2001 to 2004 either and did my bit to see that he wasn’t re-elected.

More recently, during Jim Mora’s The Panel, I described him as ‘that dreadful man’. 

I was surprised therefore to find myself and Judy invited some months ago to a private lunch which turned out to be composed entirely of John Banks supporters and some of his advisors. Citing a favourite saying of my ex-father-in-law, I said to Judy, ‘We’re among friends, but they’re not ours.’ But it turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon and Mr Banks did not appear to be bearing any grudges.

Ten days ago I was one of five speakers at an Auckland Mayoral Fathers’ Breakfast at Sky City organised by Parents Inc., the organisation founded by Ian Grant. Each of us had seven minutes to give an inspirational address on fatherhood to the 750 men present. The Mayor of Auckland, formally hosting the event, spoke first.

I’ve heard a lot of speeches in my time and few have been memorable. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the seven minutes in which John Banks held that audience in the palm of his hand, enthralled. He did not, as his advisors have suggested, talk about his own traumatic childhood. He talked about the troubled kids he has met in the course of his job; kids on drugs, kids in trouble with the law, kids in borstals and prisons, lost boys and girls. A common theme, especially among the  boys, he observed, was the absence of a father in their lives. These were boys without role models, boys who didn’t know how to be men. Fathers mattered and fathers had a responsibility to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong.

Delivered entirely without notes, the short address was spellbinding, extremely moving, and entirely met the inspirational criteria laid down by the breakfast’s organisers. When he returned to the table, I said to him, ‘If you could talk like that during your campaign, you would certainly be the first Mayor of the Super City.’

A week later Banks was on Close Up responding to claims that his son Alex was one of the boys who had egged on 17-year-old Kings College student James Webster to go on drinking vodka, advice which at least contributed to his death.  Banks was only one of two parents to front up about their sons’ involvement. Holding back tears, he told Close Up:

‘I say as a father, there but for the grace of God, go I.  I said to Alex, this is very sad for our families and you’re going to have to stay home and not go out at night until you’ve undertaken a comprehensive First Aid course, so that you understand the dangers of alcohol and you clearly understand that if it ever happens again you’ll be in a position to save a life.

‘It’s a big thing for me to have to live with, but it’s very, very hard for the Webster family. My son now knows from experience that what happened was disastrous and if he was in that circumstance ever again, he would know what to do. And on that fateful night most people didn’t know what to do. That little guy didn’t have to lose his life.

‘Life is about accepting responsibility for the actions of yourself and for the behaviour of your sons. And in this case, you know, we’re having this conversation because, hopefully, we will save one or two or a handful of James Websters.’

Banks, it seemed to me, had practised what he preached. He had fronted up, accepted responsibility as a parent for his son’s actions and set the limits that are part of a father’s duty to his children.

John Banks is a polarising individual, admired by some, hated – not too strong a word – by others. For my part, I have not changed my view of the man I attacked on The Ralston Group, the talk-back host I deplored on Radio Pacific or the Mayor of Auckland in his previous incarnation. But either he has changed or I have. I suspect it’s the former. Certainly the person I have got to know in the past fortnight is a very fine man indeed. Or maybe there are two John Banks, two sides to the one man – the father and the politician perhaps. I’d be happy to have the father continue as Mayor.

63 Comments:

  1. Agreed. For the very first time, I saw a John Banks I could respect – man standing up with and for his son and requiring his son to stand up too.

  2. I came to this realization many years ago – (I worked with him closely during the 1990′s/2000s on Radio Pacific)the John Banks I knew in the media wasn’t the one I knew in a work or private capacity. Sure he had his moments on the radio that defied belief, but that to an extent was for show, and it was a slow process of transformation – starting to a large degree when he brought Natalia, Sergei and Alexi to New Zealand from the orphanage in Russia. I have had less to do with Banksie in the last 7 or 8 years, but from what I’ve seen it’s been a continuation of that process. Hard for critics to understand, but when you get to know Banksie and his motivation (and what drive he has!) you know someone who has changed from the right-winger bovver-boy of 20 years ago. And a lot of that can be put down to the lessons of fatherhood.

  3. There is no doubt that most public figures have a depth that goes beyond the crude caricatures that are constructed by and of them. However in the case of Banks I would offer two counter points:

    Firstly, he is a skilful politician who does have the ability to pick his audience, construct a narrative, and present artfully. He can indeed “hold a room in the palm of his hand”. I saw him do it 3 years ago (post-transmogrification) at a candidates debate at a conservative Baptist church at which he felt completely at ease. In this case the narrative and the presentation was not so appealing. There was the old dog whistle about the “ho-mo-sex-ual” community and its aspirations, a ruthless and highly personal attack on the previous mayor, and a cynical repetition of market tested messaging. In its own way the performance was compelling, but I can’t say it was admirable.

    Secondly, despite the personal transformation he may or may nto have gone through, and despite the fact that he may be a genuinely warm, engaging, and forgiving man at a personal level, none of this counter-balances the toxic policies that be brings into the body politic. Flat taxes through the Uniform Annual Charge, cuts to many community level programmes, a total abdication of responsibility in relation to social issues in Auckland, and lock stock support for Hide’s Supercity.

    I’m not necessarily contesting anything you’ve written here, but would be concerned if it changed the way that anyone actually voted!

    And yes, I’m a card carrying Len Brown supporter and a candidate for a City Vision aligned ticket.

  4. My respect for both you and Mr Banks has been enhanced by your post.

  5. Banks does appear to have toned down the divisive comments he has been known for in the past, but he is in the middle of a mayoral campaign for what will be one of the most powerful jobs in New Zealand politics. John Banks is an experienced politician, and I am sure he has some good advisers surrounding him. Lets wait until after the campaign to see if his change is a permanent personality change. If he manages to win the super city mayoralty will his swagger and foot in mouth outbreaks re-occur?

  6. life’s not ALL about politics alex.

  7. I think the change has been evident for some time. Sure I remember hs wife talking about how the kids had rubbed off his rough edges. But I also remember how the loss of the Auckland mayoralty after the first crack seemed to result in some soul searching and an apparent desire to be more reasonable.

    Brian would love your views on his (face-the-camera, say the same thing three times in a somewhat artifical but readily comprehensible) media style. Always feel as though I am being patronised but am not offended, which suprises me.

    • Brian would love your views on his (face-the-camera, say the same thing three times in a somewhat artifical but readily comprehensible) media style. Always feel as though I am being patronised but am not offended, which suprises me.

      It was appropriate in this format (Campbell Live debate) to talk directly to camera, that is to say, the voters. Both candidates did it, just as both candidates returned to their ‘key messages’. I thought Banks won the debate.

  8. But either he has changed or I have.

    I think it is you that has changed Brian. You might just be starting to lose your good judgement. All celebrities sound the same when they feel they have to be seen in public eating humble pie.

  9. Beware of looking at the private face of public people! Our media are determined to show us sides of people we have not seen, if we want it or not.

    I too have seen a different side to John Banks. Both on Close Up, as mentioned, and on 7 Days where he appeared, was joked with and upon. He took it all with good humor, cracked a joke or two himself and appeared be fun, friendly and likable, as I’m sure he is.

    Yes, John Banks the man seems like a good guy, as are most of us when you come down to it.

    We meet people all the time that are nice people and good parents.

    To the voters of Auckland, that does not make him a good Mayor or a good politician. Do not vote for the father you see on Close Up because that is not the same person who decides that we all must pay more for water or that $150 for turning in a bus lane is fair!

    Look at the policy not the media’s personality driven side show.

    We have moved away from s media that examines what a politicians policies are, how they will implement them and who will pay for it, instead focusing instead on what they look like sitting in their lounge, on a Sunday, wearing their favorite cardie.

    I don’t care! I want to know what you are going to do for the city, how you are going to do it and what it will cost!

    If the television, radio and print media could only focus on that for a moment, the second largest democratic entity in New Zealand might just have a shot at electing someone with half a clue and the half a brain to go with it!

    • Beware of looking at the private face of public people! Our media are determined to show us sides of people we have not seen, if we want it or not.

      Well, it is certainly sensible to look at a politician’s record in office and future policies. What is missing from your argument is the possibility that there may be a connection between the private and the public man. I would not want to vote for a wife-beater with wonderful policies. And I don’t believe that people are unaffected by significant events in their lives. The issue here is (possibly) whether Banks’ experience as a father has changed him as a politician. I suspect that it has.

  10. Banks is a good actor and a consumate politician. That little performance on Close Up was indeed worthy of an Oscar.

    • Banks is a good actor and a consumate politician. That little performance on Close Up was indeed worthy of an Oscar.

      Just as there can be irrational belief, so there can be irrational scepticism, Ben. I find this judgement excessively harsh.

  11. Why am I reminded about an old adage about leopards and spots?

    • Why am I reminded about an old adage about leopards and spots?

      I don’t know. Why are you reminded of that old adage? Personally, I prefer to use my own judgement and intuition than to rely on ‘old adages’ each of which has an old adage which says the exact opposite.

  12. I agree, a leopard doesn’t change its spots. But when it comes to John, those spots aren’t about his homophobia, racial views or other former negative traits. They’re more about his need for approval and influence.

    • They’re more about his need for approval and influence.

      That would apply to every politician I’ve known. And I’ve known hundreds.

  13. “I find this judgement excessively harsh.”

    Following Banks’ mayoralty defeat to Hubbard, Banks underwent a ‘media makeover’ that would soften his image and make him look less abrasive and arrogant. It worked but the old John Banks remains. I am prepared to concede that his compassion in the case of James Webster was genuine.

    This does not however make me believe that he has changed fundamentally or that as mayor of Auckland he is not a mouthpiece of the ACT Party. Those who live in Remuera and Epsom may welcome him as mayor. Those in less privileged areas should be very afraid and should not be taken in by the new warm and fuzzy image.

  14. Ben said I am prepared to concede that his compassion in the case of James Webster was genuine.

    Very big of you to make that concession Ben. It’s interesting that Banks has been the most transparent of any of the parents of teens involved in the James Webster tragedy. If the left had hoped to land a hit on Banks over this, it has failed dismally.

  15. “It’s interesting that Banks has been the most transparent of any of the parents”

    Of course he was the most transparent. He had no choice. Can you imagine the outrage had it been revealed that one of the parents failing to front was none other than the mayor?

    Sorry, but this was clearly an example of making a virtue out of necessity.

    • Sorry, but this was clearly an example of making a virtue out of necessity.

      Whereas you choose to make necessity out of a virtue. I’d be interested to hear your views on The Good Samaritan. No doubt hoping to steal the shoes of the man who’d been beaten, robbed and left on the road to die.

  16. “What is missing from your argument is the possibility that there may be a connection between the private and the public man. I would not want to vote for a wife-beater with wonderful policies.”

    I see your point Brian, and I have to agree, but I feel we are fed a diet consisting of nothing but personality stories and soft pap by our main stream media. There is very little in the way of in depth (or even shallow) analysis of the mayoral candidates.

    This leaves the voting public to make decisions driven by who had the best bill boards! Look at the last three Auckland City Elections!

  17. Mr Edwards. That someone like yourself, who has spent your life in PR, can no longer see when he is being PR’d, is very sad.

    • Mr Edwards. That someone like yourself, who has spent your life in PR, can no longer see when he is being PR’d, is very sad.

      Or maybe the stigmatism of prejudice has clouded your own vision. On the whole I”m comfortable with an optical condition that allows me to see the best as well as the worst in people.

  18. Or maybe the stigmatism of prejudice has clouded your own vision. On the whole I”m comfortable with an optical condition that allows me to see the best as well as the worst in people.

    The same thing could be said of Adolph Hitler. By all accounts a very avuncular fellow towards his young female secretaries. Hardly something that could redress the balance of his good and points.

    • The same thing could be said of Adolph Hitler. By all accounts a very avuncular fellow towards his young female secretaries. Hardly something that could redress the balance of his good and points.

      Preposterous and utterly stupid comparison.

  19. well said Edward. Brian has been swept off his feet by a moment’s sentimentality. We can choose friends for their personality but we should choose politicians for there policies. This is exactly what is wrong with modern day politics – we vote for the person rather than the party (the style rather than the policy). What does Brian think of John Key?

  20. @ bje – It is nice to see some humanity in a man who in the past has held extremely black and white views on issues, but I’m sure this contrition shown by Banks is not just all about the issue of a parent fronting, but also partly taking advantage of a media opportunity to show voters a more human side and thus influence their opinions. Read many of the other contributors comments bje, they do have a similar tone to mine.

  21. “But either he has changed or I have.I suspect it’s the former.”
    I would consider you both have changed.Would you still vote for him after weighing up his previous history against his recent personable friendly incarnations?Banks always appears to me as a salesman . I find many of his utterances less than credible.I also feel that I am highly vulnerable to acts of humanity which may cloud my true opinion.

  22. 22

    I hope Mr.Banks becomes a follower of the teachings of Da Free John, who became a great humanbeing with his Love, Wellness, Enlightment, Niceness, and Kindness to Mankind.

    Being a mayor of a Big City, he will need to submit his pride and wilfullness to the great avatar Vishnu. He, the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.

    Mr. Banks must surrender himself to be a loyal disciple to the Great Vishnu, should he hope to be a kind and caring Leader.

  23. banks responded to questions from the media over his son’s involvement on the night a school boy died.
    as a parent of teenagers in this scarey time of mass clandestine teen nocturnal gatherings and teen text networking and lolly-water alcohol, i applaud anyone who fronts up when linked with such a tragic event as this.
    also,i didn’t think brian was endorsing him as mayor, but endorsing him as a father.
    brian is exceptionally well qualified in judging john bank’s speech as “spellbinding”.
    what is with this fundamentalist attitude? not many samaritans here.

  24. I struggle to see the relevance of the parable of the Good Samaritan to my scepticism of the transmogrification of John Banks from pit bull to tabby cat. Sheep in wolf’s clothing may be more apt. Mr Banks may well be a lovely person in private and kind to animals but this does not alter my view that as a politician he is hiding his true persona and the electroate should not be fooled into electing him as mayor of the super city.

    Given your recent essay on Michael Laws, now John Banks it would not surprise me if a future blog advocated the beatification of the blessed Rodney.

    And no I would not nick the victim’s shoes; most unhygenic.

    • I struggle to see the relevance of the parable of the Good Samaritan to my scepticism of the transmogrification of John Banks from pit bull to tabby cat. Sheep in wolf’s clothing may be more apt.

      The relevance, Ben, is that you are so constitutionally determined to see the worst in your fellow man and woman, that even The Good Samaritan of the Gospels could not hope to pass muster in your eyes. Seeing no hope of improvement in those you perceive as sinners, you would have been the very person to cast the first stone. It must be wonderful to be so smug.

  25. BE Preposterous and utterly stupid comparison.

    I think you have the wrong take on my comparison concerning seeing both the good and the bad in some public figure. Myles twigged to it immediately by saying “well said Edward. Brian has been swept off his feet by a moment’s sentimentality. We can choose friends for their personality but we should choose politicians for their policies. This is exactly what is wrong with modern day politics – we vote for the person rather than the party (the style rather than the policy). What does Brian think of John Key?”

    I too was impressed by Bank’s reaction to this most unfortunate incident and might well have been “spellbound” by his breakfast speech concerning youths without good role models. However, I wouldn’t let this alter my opinion of ‘that dreadful man’ I have had occasion to hear yapping in a most irritating and disgraceful way over talkback radio and in the debating chamber of Parliament. And besides,anybody who rides one of those Harley Davidson motorcycles that have such a loud and disgusting exhaust note, that sounds more like an orchestration of wet flatulance, gives good enough reason to be disliked.

    • And besides,anybody who rides one of those Harley Davidson motorcycles that have such a loud and disgusting exhaust note, that sounds more like an orchestration of wet flatulance, gives good enough reason to be disliked.

      Intended as humorous no doubt, but about the level of your argument.

  26. Here is an objective article on John Banks in Brian’s favourite newspaper, The NZ Herald.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10662438

    Here is a good sample of one of the commentaries.

    Jon Johannson, though, doesn’t think Banks will get over credibility issues in the public mind. Johannson is a political scientist with Victoria University and also has a background in psychology.

    He thinks Banks has made a problem for himself with all his “transmogrifications”, which is the word Banks uses to describe his changes. This chopping and changing is a double-edged sword for someone who established such strong credentials in the Bolger days, Johannson says.

    “On the one hand it could be viewed as showing his greater flexibility as he’s got more experienced and involved in local body leadership. On the other it could also point to the fact that he just panders to whatever his focus groups and polling tells him people want to hear, and that’s the crux of Banks … I’ve got no doubt there’s a real personal integrity around what he believes but I think the persona of John Banks is quite willing to do anything and say anything to advance his own professional goals.”

    • Jon Johannson, though, doesn’t think Banks will get over credibility issues in the public mind. Johannson is a political scientist with Victoria University and also has a background in psychology.

      One of the less impressive political commentators in my view. Give me Therese Arseneau any day. Seems to me he’s having a bob each way here – ‘a real personal integrity around what he believes; panders to whatever his focus groups and polling tells him people want to hear. Now just how does that work? The second half, by the way, is true of both Labour and, in particular, National at the moment.

  27. What’s with Banks and Goff and their desperate need to be seen straddling over-compensatory masculinity extensions?

  28. pardon sprout? i’m getting a vivid picture of them- as giant figures, in suits – standing in the harbour as a giant new bridge to devonport. now that would be useful. you could then tar them and be running over them in clean styly vehicles- as you curse their prominence, of course. must be sunday.

  29. Pardon, Budding Brussel Sprout? Mmm… maybe, it’s my racy mind; but I interpreted that as a double entendre. I still can’t see how they can manage to “straddle”. Unless, these two ‘members’ are mightily impressive in the appendage stakes. Elephant trunks, maybe?

  30. as you know merv, there’s those who loathe blue. any blue history, any blue alliances and they reel.
    and- hell merv- that image is blue.

  31. If Banks has changed for the better, why hasn’t Auckland? There’s now a liquor outlet on every second corner. I’m sorry the rich kids are now suffering the effects of our binge culture but the poor people Banks has ignored his entire political life have been suffering for longer.

  32. I accept your rebuke but will await with interest the consequences should he be elected mayor of Auckland.

  33. the binge culture is all over new zealand and kids across all socio economic levels are effected. it’s just that the wealthy ones are, sadly, the ones that are more successful at bringing to the attention of the media. maybe they are more able to articulate their feelings , perhaps the mention of king’s college sparks attention from the media(for the life of me, i don’t know why- has some high ranking media mogul got a kid there?)perhaps economically poor parents haven’t the resources to curry sympathy for their kids , who many simplistically see as nuisances. some kids are also not represented at all by their parents.
    nevertheless, james webster’s parents do the parents of nz teenagers a great service- by exposing problems associated with alcohol- no matter what their new zealand lifestyle/bank balance is.

  34. BE The relevance, Ben, is that you are so constitutionally determined to see the worst in your fellow man and woman, that even The Good Samaritan of the Gospels could not hope to pass muster in your eyes. Seeing no hope of improvement in those you perceive as sinners, you would have been the very person to cast the first stone. It must be wonderful to be so smug.

    Well,……Mmmmm. Anybody who goes out at night feeding starving stray pussy cats can’t be all that bad I suppose.

  35. Banks’ performance on Close Up was certainly impressive, but I did find it hard to view it without some cynacism. to be honest, I didn’t really get the sense that he addressed the issue of his son ‘egging’ James Webster on, instead he focussed on the virtues of first aid training. To me, that is ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ stuff – is it ok to binge drink and bully people into consuming too much alcohol simply because you have some first aid training?

    It is also interesting to see that Cameron Slater has decided that by fronting up and attempting to take some responsibility for his son Banks will cruise to victory. This from a blogger who put all of the fault squarely on the shoulders of Webster with his obscene posting days after the incident: “A toffee-nosed school boy drank him­self to death … a dead thief and a liar who couldn’t han­dle his piss killed him­self. I always said Kings boys were poofs.”

    Can someone tell me why the mainstream media continues to give this guy oxygen?

  36. Actually, I think it’s possible to summarise many of the sentiments expressed above through the miracle of song:

    Banks certainly TALKS like an Angel,
    And there’s no doubt about it, he quite clearly WALKS like an Angel
    But we got Wiiiiiiise…HE’s the Devil in disguise (background chorus: Woh, yes he is),
    the Devil in disguise (background chorus – a semi-octave lower, slightly more mumbly: Woh, yes he is).

  37. Better still, how about this from “the Big O” ?:

    “Darkness falls and Banks takes voters by the hand – leads us to some Twilight Land;
    If having faith in Banks is Blind, then we don’t want to See, he’s a mystery to me;
    Darkness falls, voters are captured by his Spell, Daylight comes, our Heaven turns to Hell;
    Are we set to burn and burn e-ter-na-lee, he’s a mystery to me.”

    Now, to me, that beautifully captures both the hopeful uncertainty expressed by BE, and the sense of impending doom expressed by Ben, Edward, Myles and others.

  38. Interesting that someone should mention Cameron Slater – when is John Slater going to do a Banks on his son, stupid lying editor of videos?

  39. I was ardent in my opposition to John Banks – and I am on the record as being so. Like Brian I now have a different view. I think it is a sadly cynical community that believes that politicians cannot change or that political change is cynical opportunism. The first mayor of greater Auckland has to be driven by the need to make change. To do things- not to smudge and smooth over with meetings and reassuring sound bites. When I hear Len Brown I hear committees on the march. Banks is a driven man and Auckland for the next three years needs to be driven too.

  40. I have seen two sides of John Banks. The first addresssing a meeting of grandmothers several years ago, introducing his two young sons, and being utterly charming. Secondly,the present arrogant attitude towards those trying to save the Suffrage Memorial in Khartoum Place. He will not talk to anyone about it, except for offering me this advice personally. Be careful not to get into an argument that you cannot win. I don’t.” All he wants to do is sit on the fence and haul in the votes.

  41. Most of these comments seem to be sharply divided along party political lines – which at least BE has set aside. Personally I don’t much like either of the main Auckland candidates, but as a disgruntled Manukau resident I would vote for Banks just to keep the appalling Brown out.

  42. I’m sure Elvis would be proud, Markus. However I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen John Banks “walk” like an angel !

  43. I remember John Key saying that women on the DPB were breeding for a business. Then recently he told boys at Burnside School anniversary to choose their wives carefully, (like a business decision).

    Then Key gave extra months of herceptin treatment (not proven to be worth it) just before the 2008 election. Another good actor but the smile never reaches the eyes.

    Leopards/spots – same as

    John Banks sitting alongside English and Key means a trinity of …. and much like Banks’ present Auckland Council the Citizens and Ratepayers blockvote on issues, and that will no doubt continue down the line to all the new local boards.

    Brian, I thought you had better investigative skills and a passing grade in character analysis.

    This first 3 years will shape the Auckland region and CCOs will sell off our assets, with John Banks, John Key and (swallow a few dead rats) Bill English laughing all the way to the ‘Cayman Islands’ blind shareholding trust-bank with their rich mates.

    Spare me your platitudes and your serious erring of view.

    PS John Slater and fellow Citizens and Ratepayers will be laughing with glee, Brian. Thanks for nothing.

  44. ‘Another good actor but the smile never reaches the eyes.’
    Very perceptive and Oh so true

  45. 45

    “All he wants to do is sit on the fence and haul in the votes”.

    That strikes a Chord of Truth, with me.

  46. @ Jenny

    Well, fair enough, Jenny. But I think you’ll find that on more than one occassion he’s certainly rushed in where Angels fear to tread.

  47. Banks has always struck me as an interesting case. He has a background that reads almost like a character from a Dickens novel, and yet he is far from left-wing in his general approach, despite the general assumption that a childhood of hardship breeds left-wing thinking as much as a childhood of privilege breeds right-wing thinking.

    It is this juxtaposition that first took my attention when I started looking at his credentials for the first (successful) mayoral campaign. For the second (unsuccessful) campaign I was a university student and I went and watched him speak on campus. To a hostile crowd that booed him and threw eggs at him throughout the speech he went through every one of his policies that would be likely to aggravate the audience, and didn’t play political games. I found this honesty both surprising and impressive.

    The situations that Brian highlights are both a continuation of this honesty, and perhaps the difference between the abrasive “Banksie” and the rather more likable John. I hope that if he is elected we see more John, and less Banksie.