Brian Edwards Media

Ghost of BE returns to speak for too-humble Brian

Ghost of BE

Now as every devotee of this site knows, BE’s defining characteristics are humility, modesty and self-effacement. He keeps his light hidden, it is said, not under one bushel but under several. His idols are Gandhi, Mother Theresa and the New Zealand All Blacks. The words ‘brag, crow, vaunt, bluster’ and ‘skite’ are not in his lexicon.

I rebuke him from time to time for this lack of ego, but he merely looks down at his feet and quotes Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’.

Frankly he can be a pain in the arse.

‘You’re a pain in the arse!’ I sometimes say to him, but he invariably replies, ‘How true. How very true.’

A bloody great pain in the arse!  

The most recent example of this occurred just this morning when I found him incinerating today’s edition of the Herald on the barbecue in the back garden.

‘What on earth are you doing?’

‘Burning the Herald.’

‘Yes, but why?’

‘I’ve been proved right again. It’s just so humiliating.’

‘Right about what?’

‘About pretty well everything, actually. That’s the problem. Here, read this.’

He handed me the singed front page of the Herald. I speed-read my way through the text: ‘Labour rockets in poll… Labour’s support has jumped under new leader David Cunliffe… could form a coalition government and become Prime Minister… marked dive in the popularity of John Key… support as Preferred PM has fallen 9.5 points… Cunliffe a respectable 16.8… National down 5.1 points… Labour is back in the game…’

I threw the page back on the barbecue. ‘So what’s the problem? You’re a Labour man. You’re Cunliffe’s biggest fan. Why are you so upset?’

‘Because,’ he said, ‘I predicted it. Just 10 days ago.’


‘On the website. Here!’

He handed me his ipad2 which he was about to toss on the barbecue with the Herald.

‘Last few paras.’

I speed-read my way through the last few paras:

But  today the picture changed. John Key has some real opposition. David Cunliffe has a brilliant mind, is a brilliant speaker and debater and there is no politician to match him on the box. Cunliffe is the game-changer.

And the proof of the pudding will lie where it has always lain – in the polls. And particularly in the Preferred Prime Minister poll. No party leader permanently registering under 15%  in that poll, let alone dipping into single figures, can hope to enjoy the confidence of the electorate or lead their party to victory. And that has been the situation for every Labour Leader since 2008.

But all that changed today as well. Under Cunliffe’s leadership, his and Labour’s poll rating will begin to rise, slowly but inexorably.

John Key no longer has the game to himself.

‘So what’s wrong with that? That’s brilliant.’

‘Well first, people will think I’m a skite. And worse, someone I care deeply about is going to be very very hurt and upset.’

‘You mean Michelle Boag?’

‘No, of course not.’

‘Who then?’

‘Matthew Hooton of course. Poor thing. So promise you won’t tell anybody, especially him.’

‘I promise.’

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  1. Early days.
    Beginner’s luck.
    Don’t jump the gun.
    Team NZ
    Just a few thoughts to ponder Brian.

    • I get your point. Very wise advice.

    • Brag away, I believe that this trend is gaining momentum. I think it is safe to say, that National will start to lose points when an effective opposition is in place, and now it seems there is. I do not think that this means they will win the next election. But it does open our eyes up to the fact that we know our prime minister is not god, and our opposition can smell blood. This usually encourages the flock in opposition to dig their teeth, their heels whatever it takes because they can smell it, smell the blood. And no biased commentary from the right can deter the momentum. Teflon John is actually ‘Shon-Key’.

    • Brilliant, Rosie!

  2. David Cuncliffe, Matthew Hooton and Fonterra, how embarrassing for the right.

    Made my day!

    TAB- 6.2 Steady as she goes!

  3. 3

    I really liked Judy’s use of the word rebuke!

  4. The amazing thing about the Herald poll is five years after leaving the party leadership Helen Clark got still got 3.5%, whereas four weeks after leaving the leadership David Shearer has vanished without trace.

    If that isn’t the ultimate final damning of the ABC faction in the caucus, I don’t know what is.

  5. Please make Matthew Hooton eat some humble pie.

  6. It’s to be expected that there would be a spike in popularity for Labour, following the travelling roadshow and election of a new leader. The performance in the House, over the next few months, will be a more accurate sign as to whether Labour really is gaining — and being able to sustain — a rise in popularity. I do think, that John Key has peaked in the preferred -PM stakes, though.

  7. Well done.

  8. Kevin Rudd effect? I’d be surprised if Hooten wasn’t fully expecting an initial bounce and honeymoon. Most commentaries I’ve seen did.

    Whether familiarity will breed contempt or maintain support is the first question. Whether his policies are constructive or destructive is the second

  9. On the extremely rare danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity!

    “Having two Davids sitting side by side would only confuse the already befuddled speaker of the house….”

    Did I say that!

  10. Time for a little German, eh Brian?
    There’s still a lot of work needed: “never underestimate the power of throwing money at it” -according to the ORACLE.

  11. The real plus is that a majority of Labour Party activists will be energized by having been consulted and having exercised the deciding voice in the choice. Wellington is already ‘Rainbow Social’ and the selection of GR risked isolating Labour in a residual PC Beltway Metroland where it could be contained by National and eventually killed by the Greens.

  12. That must be the most elegant “I told you so” I have ever read. Excellent use of alter-ego I must remember to use that some time.

  13. It will be revealing if Kathryn Ryan has Matthew Hooton back on her show again. I thought national radio’s mission is to present quality programming and independence. Hooton came across all screechy, like some little wind-up Goebbels. Perhaps she hasn’t noticed? That apology she read was pretty wan..

  14. Hooton’s not the only one.

    I seem to remember Massey University’s Claire Robinson reacting to Shearer’s resignation with: “it’s very risky for Labour to be changing leaders right now”.

    She also told Morning Report’s Simon Mercep (as Labour’s leadership primaries began) that the leadership change has come too late for the Party to win the 2014 Election:

    Robinson: “Since 1999, every party leading in the polls the year before the election goes on to win the election or gets the most party-votes…..Let’s be realistic, most of the people paying attention to that (Labour’s leadership primary) are not your average National Party voter… it (leadership primary) is not really going to have any significant impact. There’s really not enough time (for Labour to win in 2014).

    [My comment: (1) While the Right vote coalesces tightly around National, the Left vote is, of course, rather more evenly split – so Labour don’t need to be the individual party that receives “the most party-votes”. And we’ve seen this with the latest Herald-DigiPoll: Nats on 44%, Lab on 38%, Lab+Green on 49%. (2) Labour’s not trying to win back “your average National Party voter”, but former Lab voters (ie the swing vote). (3) The latest Herald-Digi suggests there, in fact, IS “really enough time” for Lab to win in 2014. (4) The polls of June-early Sept 2013 actually had the Left and Right blocs more-or-less neck-and-neck – Lab+Green ahead of the Nats in 5 of the polls and the Nats ahead in the other 6. (As opposed to Robinson implying that the Nats/the Right were clearly leading). Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to hear Mercep’s follow-up question…..]

    Mercep: “But even now the Green/Labour vote is quite close to National’s. So it doesn’t have to be a huge surge under a new leader to potentially turn things around ?”

    [To which Robinson essentially fudges…..]

    Robinson: “That’s right, but at the moment – the FIRST impact they will have is on the Left – coalescing the Left and bringing them back to the Labour Party. So, the first impact we’ll see is that they’ll be shaving the top off the Green vote. So, all that will happen is the Labour people who have moved to the Greens will come back to Labour. So, in order to be able to move into National territory, they’ve got to be doing something more extraordinary than they’ve been doing at the moment ….. this new leader has to be doing something extraordinary and I don’t think they have enough time.”

    [My Comment: (1) Well, no, the Herald-Digi suggests Labour’s rise “appears to be mainly at the expense of National”. Lab’s up 6.8 points, Greens up 0.8, Nats down 5.1. Bang goes that theory, Claire. (2) Robinson then goes on to muddy the waters by seemingly undercutting much of what she’s just said…..]

    Robinson: “They (Labour) will close the gap. The gap is going to be miniscule come the Election – but, in terms of coalition politics, all sorts of things can happen and NZFirst is a wild-card.”

  15. Incidently, Labour’s poll surge has happened in the immediate wake of a leadership contest in which both the winner (Cunliffe) and runner-up (Robertson) placed enormous stress on the need to move Left and provide a real social democratic alternative to the neo-liberal elite consensus.

    So much for the “tack Right” advice emanating from Tracy Watkins, Jane Clifton and a whole host of editorial writers !!!

  16. “…I seem to remember Massey University’s Claire Robinson reacting to Shearer’s resignation with: “it’s very risky for Labour to be changing leaders right now”…”


    “…So much for the “tack Right” advice emanating from Tracy Watkins, Jane Clifton and a whole host of editorial writers !!!”

    First of all, Claire Robinson used to work for Jenny Shipley, which in itself isn’t a crime (although perhaps it should be) but should be declared IMHO (although admittedly it is much more marginal in Robinsons case than the glaring and consistent failure of Jim Mora to identify David Farrar as a key part of the National party’s propaganda machine). That no one seems to think that such affiliations should be declared nicely illustrates one of the biggest problems of a small country like NZ – the incestuous nature of the political class, and it’s assumption that politics is simply the shuffling of brand identity within a single omnipotent prevailing establishment ideology is shared by everyone in the wider public.

    Secondly, The Labour leadership primary confirmed to me one my suspicions, that the entire press gallery are highly specialised experts good at only one thing – the palace politics of parliament. They are very good at being the horse racing reporters of a “Friday Flash” version of politics, getting tips from trainers and jockeys and calling the race with insider knowledge. Senior journalists, seeing themselves as important members of the political class, frame that horse race within a narrative based on the assumptions I outlined above. When it came to the leadership primaries these political “experts” of our media were exposed as emperors with no clothes. When it came to actual exposure to the sunlight of real New Zealanders, the political class (from Claire Robinson to Tracey Watkins) were exposed as having no more informed idea what people think than you or I. I therefore accord give their opinions slightly less weight than those of a taxi driver, who at least earns his living the hard way.

    The isolation of the corporate groupthink of our political class so evident in the ABC mis-reading of the popularity of David Cunliffe, or the treating past and current political affiliations as unimportant details, regularly leads to spectacularly stupid decisions and absurd presentations of received wisdom as ummovable political truisms.

  17. Couldn’t agree more, Sanctuary !

    And cheers for the info on Robinson’s Shipley-affiliation.