Brian Edwards Media

On Len Brown And The Problem With Haloes

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It’s a fact of life that there are some people we just don’t like. There may be no persuasive reason for not liking them. It’s the gut rather than the brain talking. But the gut operates at a deeper level than the brain and may often be the better judge of character.

In my own case, the best example of “gut judgement” is my reaction to Owen Glenn. The man almost literally turns my stomach. I can guess at some of the reasons, but I really have no hard evidence to convict him of anything. Recent events may suggest I am not alone in my reaction.

I feel less strongly about Len Brown. But I don’t like him either. It’s the gut again.  

Some of my dislike may be put down to prejudice and should properly be discounted. He’s a god-botherer who wears his religious faith on his sleeve and I have very little time for that. He talks a lot and is not averse to  talking himself up. Much of his conversation with John Campbell last night was talking himself up: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa… but I’ve been a bloody great mayor.

His reasoning seemed to desert him on the topic of whether, in the light of the revelations about his two-year-affair with Bevan Chuang,  he should resign: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…  but by a substantial majority the people of Auckland re-elected me because I’d been a bloody good mayor.

He probably was and they probably did. But it’s also true that those electors didn’t have the full facts about Len Brown or about his character when they cast their votes.

Brown’s greatest difficulty now is to reconcile the almost saintly image which he has cultivated of himself with the sordid reality of his two-year affair. For that he must thank his former mistress who has been at pains to provide as detailed an account of their trysts as the mainstream media would be prepared to publish. The book cannot be far away.

Shane Jones might well survive such a scandal thanks to the ‘bad boy’ image which he seems delighted  to embrace. His reputation might even be enhanced. Think of John F Kennedy or Bill Clinton. Poor Len Brown is condemned by the now tarnished halo above his head. For that reason alone I think it will be impossible for him to keep his job.

And what of Cameron Slater, Bevan Chuang and the political coterie behind all of this? I find them and their actions contemptible. I find them no better than those of the man whose career, and quite possibly whose life, they have set out to destroy.

That said, Brown remains the author of his own misfortune. His greatest mistake has been in failing to recognise that those who achieve prominence or fame, whether in politics of show-business, are in greatest danger of exposure if they breach society’s moral or legal codes. For the Mayor of New Zealand’s largest city, a position of significant influence and power, to express the view that a two-year affair with a council employee ought to be seen as private or “of an entirely personal nature” demonstrates the most extraordinary naiveté.

But he is not alone in that view. His indiscretion has produced a great deal of media chatter about the right to privacy of well-known or famous people. It’s a noble idea, but fame and privacy are uneasy bed-fellows. Several decades ago the late Mike Bungay QC gave me this advice: “The only failsafe way for someone in the public eye to avoid damaging exposure is never to do anything wrong.” He was absolutely right.

In the late nineties Judy and I attended a function in Christchurch to welcome American President Bill Clinton. There were gasps when he was introduced by then PM Jenny Shipley. Clinton was charisma on a stick. But there was another pervasive presence in the room, not physical but in the mind of every single person present. And her name was Monica Lewinsky.

You might say, “Well, Clinton survived the scandal, so that rather defeats your argument.” But we all knew Clinton was a bad boy, hugely attractive to women and had never sported a halo. And that’s the difference.

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216 Comments:

  1. Brian , what your bullshit detecter (gut instinct) is observing in the case of Brown and particularily Glenn is their almost total lack if sincerity .

    • agree

    • Brian, I find it interesting that we can find ourselves at opposite ends of the political spectrum yet share the same ‘gut instinct’. Like you I can’t rationalise it.

      I have a finely honed BS meter and also took an early dislike to messrs Brown and Glenn. With the latter I always felt he was only in it for the big gong. He finally got his hands on one after a phantom $80m commitment to family violence. Sunshine is a great disinfectant…

      Cheers, L

    • Good on you Brian! No matter what side of politics people are on morals and the truth should come before politics.
      All those left leaning commentators that are protecting Brown just because he is seen to be taken out by some right wing bloggers are Hippocrates. Anyone can see Brown has gone way too far in his behavior as a mayor our biggest city. Those whose morals come after political thinking are the root of all corruption and the disdain for politics many have.
      If political point scoring is the ultimate goal, we are all in big trouble.
      Len Brown has been exposed for what he really is, that is his responsibility alone, nobody else.
      If he was a good leader he would recognize that and resign. The left commentators can be extremely moralistic when they are attacking John Banks or the National govt.

    • Sadly, Brian, as much as I enjoy your musings and welcome your often incisive commentary on the media (not least amongst them the long overdue naming and shaming of the nasal whiners), I am worried that I don’t like you. That necessarily arms length and subjective judgement is based only on listening to you on National Radio when the overwhelming impression given is one of a ‘chippy’ left winger with tree hugging tendencies.

      And as you say above, that’s my gut, not my brain talking; as a fellow traveller with roots in the Emerald Isle, and a (depressingly tenacious)pedantry for poor speech and grammar, I’m worried as to why I think I might not like you.

      But back to Licentious Len, and ever was it thus, Brian, for politicians and others with trousers round the ankles. While I also squirm at his presentation, I have to (grudgingly)admire his chutzpah in standing his ground. His buttock clenchingly dreadful Campbell interview was in the Tiger Woods class of public mea culpas, so why are we surprised?

      Keep up the good work, and I will endeavour to turn off National Radio when I hear your sonorous burr; in doing so, and confining myself to being a fan of this website, I will, I am sure, come to like you.

      MM

  2. 2

    Well said Brian, you have summed up my feelings on the matter exactly

    I notice there has been some chatter along the lines that “they are all at it” and if “you knew what I (as an insider) know” you would know that

    Which in my mind while may be true (but I doubt it) is a smear on the character of all politicians

  3. The only way Brown can begin personal damage control is to fall on the sword he alone crafted and leave the blogosphere and MSM to talk among themselves. He needs to get his sorry self home, and begin his genuine contrition in private.
    Having been the teenage child of a self-righteous father found to have similarly transgressed, I know that for us kids the values betrayal was huge. We thought our father was awesome, we took for granted his values were as clear cut and simple as he constantly proclaimed. He destroyed the way we saw our family but to his credit he made all the right noises and eventually restored our trust. It was private of course. That said it has left scars on all of us. I cannot imagine how publicly humiliating it will be for the family should Brown decide to continue to tough it out as mayor. The schoolgirl sniggers,the sideways glances and the sarcasm at their father’s expense will be an excruciating price to pay.

    Brown needs to get this and quietly leave. I suggest a prolonged trip overseas for all concerned.

    • Let he, who is without sin cast the first stone!

      • Oh dear! By that precept no-one would be able to criticise anyone for anything. That’s certainly the case in Christian theology where we are all guilty of ‘original sin’.

        • Oh dear. Why do you make a habit of introducing complex theological doctrines that interlink within a system of belief you don’t prescribe to as parting shots, and qualify them inaccurately with adverbs like “certainly”! :)

          Not quite correct. We are not “guilty” of original sin. We inherit original sin, and then commit transgressions as a result of that flaw in our nature.

          However, the extent and nature of those transgressions are subject to some measure of self-control. Plus we also have a responsibility to avail ourselves of the means of grace by which we can be transformed and made stronger. Hence the need for humility when seeking to stone (literally, not metaphorically in the story being quoted) others. And the one who delivered that advice was also not afraid to criticise and verbally condemn others when they deserved it, especially those who abused positions of power leadership.

          So Brown is as human as any of us, subject to temptation and weakness. However, because he holds an important civil office that affects the lives of over a million people, we have a right to expect that he will be free of particular transgressions and failings – corruption, greed, abuse of power, gross incompetence and negligence. Whether that includes sexual immorality, although terrible in its effects upon his family, is debatable. It raises the question if he can be trusted to hold civic office, but voters have to make that individual decision from here on in. Perhaps any who were attracted to vote for Brown on the basis of his showy brand of spirituality should consider Martin Luther’s advice, “Better to be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian prince”.

          Restoration of relationship with God, family, and disillusioned voters may be possible, but I’d suggest the means by which Brown could do that would depend on the same thing in all three relationships – genuine on-going remorse and repentance. Which is mighty hard to fake…

          • Sorry Kimbo, just can’t be bothered. Let’s just assume that everything you say is right and everything I say is rubbish. But in my comments at least I do have the virtue of brevity. Please carry on in the knowledge that you now have open slather on this site and I will leave responding to others with more patience than me with Jesuitical nitpicking. (You can have a field-day with that!)

      • 3.1.2

        With the exception of the ordinary man (or woman) who is not in the public eye, being paid an over inflated salary with perks, all from the public purse.

  4. I have not disliked Len Brown. Still don’t. I got on well with him.

    We know, in more detail than simply exposing a philandering mayor, the undisputed allegations made by his sex partner, Ms Chuang, and gleefully published by journo low- life Cameron Slater, what Brown has done.

    Not nice. Disappointing. Awful for the family members of the two involved in this sexual relationship over 2years. It cut mayor Brown off at his kneecaps. He brought it on himself. Certainly, but the extent that Slater went to was lower than I have ever seen.

    That’s as it maybe. Len Brown needs space to think through all the implications. That time is short. If I were him I’d know my # 1 Priority would be to do all I could for my wife and my daughters, not hold onto the job he clearly loves.

    I went through a quite different fall from public grace in 2011 about when Len Brown kicked off his affair with Ms Chuang. I offered my resignation quickly. Despite that, eleven days later I was fired. My misdeed went way more ballistic domestically and even internationally than has thus far occurred in Mr Brown’s case? And he cannot be fired.

    I did what I knew I had to do and then set about putting my life back together with much help from my wife, family and friends. I have moved on. Life for us is way better now than before it was prior to my downfall.

    Mayor Brown is a super-cool dude if he can deliver on meeting his #1Priority and remain on effectively as the mayor of NewZealand’s only Super City. His decision of course.

    In this respect I find myself in agreement with Brian Edwards. Its one thing for the talented and likeable roguish mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who never polishes his own halo ( he doesn’t have one), to have reportedly had several liaisons and a ‘love child’, but quite a different one for Len Brown.

    • Well Put.

    • Yeah well said Alasdair .
      I have been in several meetings with Len and while I like his slightly quirky nature I didn’t warm to him much, too much persona for me, unsure where the substance was. Thats just me though and I voted for him anyway.

      His affair is a minor thing compared to what Palino’s people did with it.
      Check out http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11141316&ref=rss
      for the grubby details of a young woman manipulated by people working for Palino , pressured into revealing the affair so they could grab power at any cost. That they had the arrogance to think they could short circuit local govt democracy – what fragments remain of it – just to grab power. That is far worst in my view than any sad indiscretion on Len Brown’s part . No wonder so many people just don’t bother voting.

  5. Poor Len couldn’t resist her charms. He is 57 and she is 32 years old, get real, who was chasing whom??? Our mayor used very, very, poor judgement in the relationship with unelected Bevan Chuang. Remember, in the “chase” it is the woman who has the final say, yes or no, if intercourse was not consentual, then we are looking at rape.

    It is of interest that Ms Chuang signed the affidavit only after she lost in the election.

    In the past, Len has shown that he has the best interest at heart for Aucklanders, this is why I voted for him in the last election. He needs to mend some fences, however, he should remain Mayor of Auckland city.

    • Agreed. In real terms, the man’s an old fool, moreso for the fact that he seemingly failed to see the enivitability of a public wash-out, and what searing damage he’d've wreaked upon his family and his career. We’ve just elected a bloody twit to the office of Mayor.

  6. “Brown’s greatest difficult now is to reconcile the almost saintly image which he has cultivated of himself with the sordid reality of his two-year affair.”

    Hmmm. I’m not sure that is his greatest difficulty. People are cynical regarding their politicians, and suspect they are crooks, adulterers, or fiends. Look at how the public lapped up nonsense like Paintergate and whatever-the-speeding-thing-across-Canterbury-gate was with an essentially honest person like Helen Clark.

    Instead, Brown will have to fight hard to demonstrate he didn’t directly or indirectly threaten others as has been alleged, or abuse his power, or the dalliances and gifts (sordid details courtesy of WO) didn’t involve Council time and money.

    The rest is survivable.

    “It is the cover up that gets them” (Richard Nixon commenting, ironically on what later happened, on Alger Hiss)

  7. If you go on Chuang’s blog, bevanchuang.wordpress.com you’ll find some interesting insights about Asian women and stuff such as this:

    “Sex, intimacy, love and friendship
    I have never been shy about sex. I talk about it a lot. I enjoy positive sexual relationships. I believe that humans are one of very few animals in the world that have sex for recreation and not procreation.

    Sex for human, as I believe, is about intimacy and love. It is a need. Not just a physical need, but also an emotional need.

    So when my fried shared an article titled “Is Sex A Human Right?“, I say to myself – of course! The article talked about disable people having rights to have sex. Why shouldn’t disable people have the right to get access to love and intimacy?
    Sex is only part of emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. There is nothing quite as close with someone until you have sex with them. Nothing is more vulnerable than when you have sex with someone. Who would go naked in front of someone if you don’t trust them?

    Having positive sex is also important in any relationships. It is not about how good the sex it is, it is about the intimacy. It is about that desire to be with someone, and be close with someone. Being told you are amazing and being appreciated.

    It is therefore inhumane to deny people to have access to that intimacy and love. Turn to the person you love and just tell them how much you enjoy being with them. Sex is not dirty. It is a very beautiful thing.

    29 DAYS AGO SHORT URL 4 COMMENTS

    personal
    dsable/friendship/human rights/intimacy/love/sex

  8. Ms Chuang voted for Len Brown but now thinks he should step down. What has changed in the meantime?
    How did Slater get hold of all this if she didn’t approach him?
    She and Slater are Right-leaning, Brown is Left-leaning.
    Brown’s permanent political destruction is more certain if he has to resign now than if the “news” came out earlier and he wasn’t re-elected.
    You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe he was set up right from the start.
    Having said that – he was a bloody fool who wasn’t thinking with his brain but from lower down.

  9. From what I’ve seen and heard today, it is men who are most puritanical / judgemental about Brown’s affair. Funny that.

    • “puritanical, judgemental”? And what would you be saying – ‘Good one, Len, bugger the family you say means so much to you, bugger all those self-righteous pronouncements you’re always making, bugger loyalty, bugger self-control. Go for it, son!” Is it really ‘puritanical’ to take issue with behaviour of this sort?

  10. I’m really struggling with the concept that someone who presents themselves with a halo and has an affair, is somehow more guilty of transgression than someone who doesn’t. I’m struggling with the insinuation that an affair is somehow ‘more wrong’ when a halo exists, than when it doesn’t. It just doesn’t add up in my mind.
    I’m also struggling with the sincerity of sympathetic comments made about the family on a variety of sites. I’d suggest the humiliation and betrayal perpetrated upon his daughters and wife the night they were told will, by now, have been very significantly intensified by comments made by some in the media and general public.
    I have to say the comments that sicken me most revolve around claims to ‘feel’ for the children and his wife while attacking the person they love and demanding his stand-down in the same breath. It exudes an element of hypocrisy. They still love him for gods sake. Kids don’t stop loving a parent the minute they hear about an affair. Give an opinion one way or the other, but don’t condemn and offer sympathy at the same time. An inability to do so reflects indecisiveness.
    As to the argument of public office: The affair is a moral issue. No law has been broken. He has not tarnished public office. He has tarnished himself. He has also offended many people’s moral sense of decency. (I’ll say this: I’d be willing to bet London to brick that some people with a moral sense of decency have a few skeletons in their own cupboards that would mortify them if it ever got out).
    Lets face it, no-one has been killed or maimed. The guy’s done a good job. Clearly. Plenty of other people have done the same thing – including politicians and prime ministers from both Labour and National governments. They survived. Did they wear halos? Some of them did. Did Len Brown wear a halo. Obviously. Is the halo broken? Absolutely. Can it be glued back together? Probably – but the repair will be visible for some time to come. Will he stay in the job? Very much hope so.

    • I’m sorry you’re struggling, James. The offence is in itself no greater because one has represented oneself as a highly moral person. But the perception of hypocrisy is and that is why people with ‘haloes’ are more severely judged when they offend against society’s moral or legal codes. There are thousands of examples of this in the world of politics, here and overseas.

      • Fair point Brian. But lets turn it on its head. Why should someone be excused (or be less reprimanded) because others expect that behaviour. It would mean they not only get away with more, but are also given permission to get away with even more. Even after being caught. Case in point: Silvio Berlusconi. Given the choice between Brown and Berlusconi for public office, I’d choose Brown – even though Berlusconi created more excitement (pun intended strictly for the fun of a play on words) than Brown.

        • On the whole I think I might prefer Berlusconi who openly relished his vices.

          • I think it’s a matter, too, of when one’s proclivities are revealed. And that applies to a myriad of other aspects of a politician too – including policy.

            I’ve been asked how I could go from consulting to one of the more militant unions in Australia to managing the campaign of a politician loathed by the left for what they perceived as an anti-union stance (he did have one, just not to the extent they portrayed).

            Simple: in both cases the public knew clearly what they were getting. Similarly I was quite comfortable advising Winston Peters right up to the point he decided to adopt Michael Laws’ strategy of lying to the public.

            During the ’93 campaign Clinton’s sexual foibles were quite plain, starting with Gennifer Flowers and then on through a series of what George Stephanopolous called “bimbo explosions”. The American public – at least those who’d been paying attention – knew what they were getting.

            OTOH Brown, who as you say waves his religiosity about as sign of virtue, and by implication suitability for office, sold the voters a – if you’ll excuse the inadvertent pun – pig in a poke.

            Which, if I may leap astride my hobby-horse for a moment, is why I believe recall should apply to all elected officials.

            Instead of endlessly speculating on “will he, won’t he, should he, shouldn’t he?”, the voters of Auckland would, if outraged in sufficient number, be able to remove his mandate (again, no pun intended).

          • Come off it. Politicians should be judged on their politics, policies, and public actions first, everything else a distant second. Berlusconi was a far-right criminal. If you want to talk about his moral transgressions, they included sleeping with an underage prostitute. A little different that Brown’s common garden affair, don’t you think. If you’d truly prefer Berlusconi over Brown, your judgement is way off–maybe you need to stop paying so much attention to your ‘gut’.

    • 10.2

      It’s really very simple. Hypocrisy is added to the mixture.

  11. For once I disagree with you Brian. I don’t think Len Brown should resign and I expect he wont.

    • Of the people who say he could stay in his position, none seem to be aware of the most basic rules governing employment and ‘romantic liaison’. In his position as Mayor, he simply is not allowed to fraternise in that way with subordinates. Whether she was a willing participant at the time or not is neither here nor there and, moral considerations aside, he abused his position as, essentially, her employer.
      I have worked with people in council leadership positions who were forced to resign because extramarital affairs were discovered. How can he now continue?
      John Minto made a very good point – step down and stand again. It is the only way to discover if he really does still hold the mandate he claims.

      • I’d be interested in an employment lawyer’s view on that. Not because I think you’re wrong but because I am at heart a nerd.

        I am CEO of several organisations that are run by boards. While board members frequently try and meddle in my hiring and firing decisions they get a short shrift. The lines of responsibility end with me.

        The only way board members can influence staff matters is through setting policies and firing me. Then they’d find the next CEO, I presume, equally averse to their influence in such matters.

        I now of course that in the real word nepotism in many forms is practised, but from a legal standpoint Brown could not directly influence her appointment, promotion or dismissal.

        So would she be seen as HIS subordinate, and not that of the CEO?

  12. Of course he must go. No question in my mind. Not rape but possibly sexual harassment. He pursued her, treated her badly then dumped her.Who was doing the job he was paid to do while his mind was elsewhere.

  13. If Len Brown doesn’t resign, he will be a laughing stock and not able to advance Auckland’s interests, which is what a mayor is supposed to do. There are also quite a few organisations that would not like to have him attend – the guilt by association. All those photo opportunities will disappear as well. No one will take him seriously. Think of all the innuendo that will be attached to any comments or speech he makes. People will be concentrating on those images, not the message he is trying to convey.
    The best thing that could happen for the C&R grouping is for him to stay. It would make their 2016 campaign a lot easier.

  14. The sad thing is its so entirely predictable. I struggle with his honesty in terms of the persona he has presented to the people. It was dishonest. People like to know a bit about a candidate they are voting for- we like to somehow identify with their interests, values and personality type. We dont want to vote for an autonoman or someone acting out a role. Now the electorate doesnt know who it is they voted for and how much of this mayor is just an act.

  15. Correction required: she was not and is not a council employee. This matters, if you consider – as I do – that (a) Brown’s personal life is his own (b) unless there is some abuse of position involved.

  16. “But we all knew Clinton was a bad boy, hugely attractive to women and had never sported a halo. And that’s the difference.”

    Actually, Clinton, coming from Oklahoma, did try and sport a halo, or at least go through the obligatory motions of mandatory Bible Belt spirituality (which he may genuinely adhere to) throughout his political career.

    However, once the Lewinsky matter went public, Clinton HAD to highlight his personal sexual failings and keep that mantra going. Unless the American public and the Senate focused on that, the real transgression that could have seen him thrown out of office (obstruction of justice, and a pattern of behaviour that corroborated the accusations made in the Paula Jones civil sexual harassment case) could have gone under the microscope in the impeachment hearings.

    So ironically, Clinton was one of the few politicians who used a sex scandal as a distraction!

    I note Duncan Garner posted an abusive text on Radio Live’s website today that he received from Brown’s minder, David Lewis: -

    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/READ-David-Lewis-text-to-Duncan-Garner/tabid/815/articleID/38416/Default.aspx

    …which is really dumb. The “Katey Graham’s tit will get caught in a wringer” threats, attempted cover-ups and abuses of power are what really destroy scandal-ridden politicians. Not the initial scandal.

    Just saying…

    • Clinton came from Arkansas. I recommend his biography, “My Life”, and “The Clinton Wars”, by Sidney Blumenthal.

      Interestingly there is a Clinton in Oklahoma. It’s a town – population 9,033.

      /nitpicking mode off :-)

  17. Gave you incorrect email.

  18. Sex….

    Affairs….

    Shock Horror, that despicable crime, halo or no halo should demand beheading…..

    No apologies for the pun :)

  19. Surely there have to be some compensations for being brought up as a Catholic?

    • Agree, but imagine being coughed up like some unwanted plankton and develop a blow up doll fetish. Gives having a whale of a time a whole new meaning.

      • 19.1.1

        Seems like there’s enough lying and deception in this affair to cover all parties in ambergris. Super smelly city.

  20. This article appears in NBR; however, readers aren’t permitted to comment. Unsurprising, given that their staffers have a predilection for staying indoors when the sun’s out, because they get real skittish seeing their shadows on the pavement.

  21. Like you Brian, I can’t stand hypocrisy or sanctimony either, but I have never seen evidence of this in Len Brown. Have I missed something?

    Brown has been outed as a warm blooded, fallible human being, not immune to temptation. How many of us will go to to the grave without any so-called moral lapse? If every person that has had an affair was publicly held to account and then pressured to resign, how many more broken families would there be, how many more conscientious, productive people would be unemployed?

    I agree with James’s comments and my advice to the Brown family would be to keep loving and caring for each other as much even more than ever, and together you will come out the other end and be stronger than before. My heartfelt best wishes go to the whole family.

  22. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by Inside Flat3 in their open letter to Bevan Chuang:

    http://insideflat3.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/an-open-letter-to-bevan-chuang.html

    John Northcote said:

    Ms Chuang voted for Len Brown but now thinks he should step down. What has changed in the meantime?

    Yeah I wondered the same thing.

  23. He’s a politician…and will just change his image. In a few months he won’t “remember” his halo and will be representing himself as some sort of tough guy.

    I’ve never understood his appeal but strangely see a little more behind his dead “saintly” eyes now – he almost looks human.

    It’s all about branding not personal qualities.

  24. As with so much else that one sees in the media this seems to me to be a peculiarly Auckland storm in a tea cup. If you don’t live there (and I don’t) events in Auckland are distant and only of passing interest. I had no idea that Len Brown put himself about as a staunch Christian until you mentioned it Brian,and I might have had a negative response if I had known, but he seemed to me to be doing a reasonable job as mayor of Auckland, and I don’t really see what the fuss is about from that point of view. What seems to me to be much more significant is how indicative this is of the very low standards to which our journalism has sunk that such sleaze can be a major news item. Surely we have more important things to be concerned about on the political front?

    • 24.1

      Finally found a comment I can like. Thanks Tony.

    • “If you don’t live there (and I don’t) events in Auckland are distant and only of passing interest.”

      I don’t live anywhere near Auckland but have never warmed to Len Brown. I wasn’t aware of his Christian outlook but at the same time couldn’t help but see he was not doing a good job as mayor of Auckland. Just look at the Sky City fiasco. Complete sell-out of his so-called left leanings. Regardless of any of this, though, jeff bryce has summed things up pretty well by pointing to Brown’s lack of sincerity. That’s what it is. This is a pretty good summary of that:

      http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/memorable-moments-len-brown-video-5652836

    • Thanks Tony, this is one of the few comments here that I can actually resonate with. Although Brown is too far to the right and too much of a chardonnay socialist for my liking, that is hardly the point. I agree that it really is a ‘peculiarly Auckland storm in a tea cup’. Brown’s transgressions are not really any different to those of a whole raft of other politicians and public figures, including among others, at least two former Prime Ministers, and our future king.

  25. Great piece… the opposite effect (to gut dislike) occurs too. My gut has always made me like Brian E while the evidence largely says his views are thoroughly inconsistent with mine and abhorrent to my view of the world and its “fixing” (outside 100% agreement on religion)… yet the his skills,wit, articulation and insight continue to fascinate and sway the balance to my still liking him a few decades on.

  26. To summarise the latest report in the Herald:
    Ms Cheung claims to have had an affair (concurrently with Brown) with a member of Palino’s team who pressured her to reveal all. There was talk of “a plan”. He denies it all.
    It looks as though the Right is carefully taking aim to shoot itself in the foot.
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .
    I think I was correct about a set-up.

    • 26.1

      You missed the bit about Wewege’s lies. I suspect he deserves most of the credit for this debacle along with political hubris from the main participants.

      Pretty obviously it wasn’t a party machine operation or it would have been timed for the election campaign. It reeks of individual idiocy.

  27. “Crucify him,” the moral outrage mob cried.

    I’ve just seen Len Brown struggling up Queen Street, shouldering a heavy wooden cross and wearing a crown of thorns. If everyone who’d had an affair was sacked, most of us would be unemployed.

    It’s very funny watching the moral outrage crowd getting their jollies on this.

  28. Agree John it was a setup and I don’t believe the Palino team as a whole were not aware of the “plan” Palino’s campaign manager is Cameron Slater’s father . The freelance journo who did the story, Stephen Cook an ex Truth reporter, has been the main source of Chuang’s media statements. Freelancers don’t work for nothing so who paid him?
    What a grubby little affair.
    If Len Brown resigns , we will have another election for Mayor , the muckrakers will gear it right up and there is a serious chance Palino will get in.

    (Edited for potential defamation)

  29. “To summarise the latest report in the Herald:
    Ms Cheung claims to have had an affair (concurrently with Brown) with a member of Palino’s team who pressured her to reveal all. There was talk of “a plan”. He denies it all.

    The news of this affair appeared to us after the election because:
    1) Ms Cheun was running for public office and any
    negative publicity would be bad for her cause.
    2) If the affair was disclosed before the election
    I would think that Len Brown would still have
    been elected Mayor of Auckland. This selective
    timing afforded the losing candidates to demand
    Len Brown to resign……

    Len Brown, during his first term as Mayor of Auckland, has done a fantastic job!

    (This comment was edited for reasons of defamation.)

  30. A good opinion article by Brian, but now as news is out, that Len Brown even happily gave a good reference for his mistress, for a job at the Art Gallery, which is Council run, I am sure that we do not need to rely on gut feeling any longer, the man must go.

    Giving a reference, whether directly himself, or through a staff member, which is highly favourable of a person that the referee has an intimate affair with, and which then succeeds in getting the referred to person the desired job, that is in the least preferential treatment in conflict of interest.

    Some would even call it “corrupt”.

    Yes, and I have ample other information, and personal experience, how so many in New Zealand seem to engage in favouratism, cutting corners, in back-room agreements, working within old boys and old girls networks, I can say, this country called New Zealand, that is officially rated as amongst the least corrupt in the world, is in reality far from that.

    It is time to reveal more of this stuff, and I am sure there are many work-places, institutions, parts of government, yes players in government AND opposition themselves, who are basically nothing much short of “corrupt”.

    If New Zealanders would only know a bit more, would dare to ask the hard, drilling questions, would research, study and analyse, if we would have a media that would actually do their jobs, we would have a true, shocking revelation, I am 100 per cent sure of it.

    Time to get cracking, to tidy up the rot in this country!

    For sure, Len Brown must go. That is NOT meant to support the dirty style of working by Cameron Slater and Co, as they have clearly used an aspiring, foolish but also opportunistic young woman, who now must fall to pieces. Shame on you, Slater!

    • “Giving a reference…which is highly favourable of a person that the referee has an intimate affair with, and which then succeeds in getting the referred to person the desired job, that is in the least preferential treatment in conflict of interest.”

      Really?! If Brown had initiated a recommendation for the job, or made the decision that secured it for her, yeah, sure. But a referee is usually asked to confirm nothing more than the applicant’s character, reliability and skills as they relate to the position applied for. Mayors and MPs are no doubt asked by their friends/constituents to do it all the time. My local MP Jonathan Hunt gave me a reference for my first job in a government department 30 years ago. Hope that doesn’t make Bunter, the Minister of Wines and Cheeses, a media target!

      As long as Brown didn’t falsify any details, I don’t see the problem.

      Any lawyers in the house who can say otherwise?

      • Were you having an affair with Jonathan Hunt ?
        If not then the two circumstances are totally different.
        Jonathan Hunt was not beholden to you and could give an honest opinion.
        And presumably the reference you were given was in written form so it would be pretty bland.
        Brown was in a sexual relationship with this woman when he acted as referee for her and then gave a personal reference over the phone.
        If you can’t differentiate between the two then you are as confused as BE thinks you are.
        And it is not a matter for lawyers just commonsense !!!

        • No, I wasn’t having an affair with Hunt – but he did sponsor a school prize I won. Scandal!

          Who is to say the opinion Brown’s gave in the reference wasn’t honest?

          And as the only way Brown can be dug out of office if he doesn’t want to go is if it can be shown he broke the law, then commonsense is of little value, e.g., John Banks, Taito Philip Field, Donna Awatere. Instead it is most certainly in the realm of lawyers.

          I don’t make the rules. I just report them.

      • Kimbo – A. G. Hudson has already given you some correct feedback. Getting a reference from the mayor of Auckland City, who is at the same time the “lover” of the applicant, for a job at a Gallery that is administered and financed by the same council, that raises very, very serious questions!

        Your scenario with Jonathon Hunt is totally different. I know what you mean, but such situations as you were in are very different to what Len Brown and his mistress were involved in.

        As for the whole corrupt crap that has been going on, this NZ Herald story tells a lot:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11141316

        It shows also how corrupt the NZ political establishment has become, all also heavily linked to business circles and more, and I dread what we have as a truly questionable, indeed increasingly dishonest, undemocratic society.

        We also have much of the media join in with dirty laundry campaigns, talk back radio taking advantage of gossip to increase caller ratings and so, which again gives them commercial advertising “edge”. NZ is as corrupt a country as much of the US and even Latin America now!

        • Contrary to the grumpy assertions of the blog host, it is not my intention to bog things down, so in the interests of advancing the discussion, I thank you, Harry. However, I note you’ve not really said too much different from A G Hudson. I understand your moral indignation. Nevertheless, you may still be confusing that with legal transgression.

          Duncan Garner discussed Brown with a law professor on Radio Live today. After the usual academic/legal qualifications of “it raise questions…one the one hand…on the other hand”, he essentially pronounced Brown in the clear. There is a question of how Brown’s activities stack up against the Councils “ethical conduct” policies, but the phrase is broad and vague. I’d also note that the one caveat, as John Banks may soon discover, is that predicting the outcome of juries who pass judgement over politicians is Russian roulette.

          He concluded that the worst Brown may suffer is censure. If that wet noodle was rapped over Brown’s knuckles, I’m sure it would confirm to you that we live in a nation little better than Nicaragua under successive generations of Somoza’s. With respect, and thanking you again for your response, we disagree.

          Now, I’m sure I’ve exceeded my word limit…

          • Kimbo -

            “There is a question of how Brown’s activities stack up against the Councils “ethical conduct” policies, but the phrase is broad and vague.”

            The rules or guidelines of the Auckland Council say in at least 2 clauses or paragraphs, that the mayor (like any other staff, employee or official of Council) must not act in any way in his capacity, to “favour” any family, friend or businesses.

            As far as I remember, Penny Bright posted a comment under a main post on The Standard re this, where it is clearly showing.

            Len Brown did (through a staff member) provide a clearly favourable, very positive reference to the person(s) managing the Art Gallery of Council, for his “mistress”, and she succeeded in getting the job. Although she claimed there were other referees also, the very positive one by Brown as mayor, who would thereby also be in charge of the Art Gallery (as senior Council administrator), would most likely have given crucial weight to her succeeding in getting the job.

            In any case, that means, that Len did clearly “favour” “a friend” in an act he did as mayor, and thus top administrator in charge also of the Gallery.

            It is a bit like Nick Smith once writing a reference for Bronwyn Pullar on a letter with a ministerial letter-head. Len should have disclosed his conflict of interest, which he did not. Hence he breached the Council rules.

            • Yes, but that is what happens when you go listening to people who live conspiracy theories like the eccentric Penny Bright.

              What you have perhaps overlooked is that in the usual course of events providing a reference is not “favouring” as Bright and others alleging or implying.

              All a referee does is vouch for the suitability of the applicant with no expectation or knowledge they WILL get the job. Brown’s expertise in local government and his knowledge of Ms Chuang made him a suitable referee for a council position, irrespective of any personal relationship. It was the expertise of Chuang to perform (no pun intended!), and the expertise of Brown to judge (no pun intended!) that the appointment panel were expected to note, not the fact that Brown was mayor and they should/must appoint this person as a result. That is NEVER the expectation when someone acts as referee, especially in New Zealand local and central government.

              Yes, Nick Smith had to resign, but you overlook he has not charged with a crime. The reason he resigned was because he said one thing, and then was found to have done another in the discharge of his office. Smith held his position courtesy of the Prime Minister in a cabinet that is actively opposed by an elected opposition. Hence it was politically damaging to the Key government’s existence for Smith to continue.

              Despite the political damage to the Brown “brand”, the same dynamic does not exist for a Mayor in a Council. No one in Council can force a vote of no confidence to divest him of office. Hence you need a legal means to do so. Despite lots of huffing and breathless huffing by Slater, the media, and others, I’m yet to see how acting as a referee could be it.

              However, even though I have yet again exceeded my word limit, I could be wrong.

              • 30.1.2.1.1.1.1

                And you are wrong.
                In fact you are in cloud cuckoo land if you seriously believe that a reference from the Mayor of Auckland would not have an influence in securing a job with the Auckland City Council.
                And an improper influence at that if the referee does not disclose their realationship.
                Penny Bright may be as mad as batshit but in this instance she is right and you are wrong.
                Your whole argument on this subject seems to be in support of Len Brown no matter what even to the extent of raising red herrings like a reference you got from Jonathan Hunt 30 years ago..
                I wonder what attitude you would be taking if it was John Banks who had offended in this way.
                If all your previous comments are read I don’t think there would be any doubt at all.
                You would be screaming “Off with his head”

                • 30.1.2.1.1.1.1.1

                  “And you are wrong. In fact you are in cloud cuckoo land if you seriously believe that a reference from the Mayor of Auckland would not have an influence in securing a job with the Auckland City Council.”

                  Tell you what, A G Hudson. How about you stop hurling insults, and presuming (incorrectly, btw) what I would so, put your money where your mouth is, and invest the time, effort, and money into a civil case against Brown, just as happened with John Banks.

                  Byeeeeee…..

              • 30.1.2.1.1.1.2

                Kimbo -

                “Brown’s expertise in local government and his knowledge of Ms Chuang made him a suitable referee for a council position, irrespective of any personal relationship.”

                Well, we may not be talking about a “crime” as such, but there is a Code of Conduct for Auckland Council, which is not without meaning! I also only mentioned Penny Bright, because she sometimes copies and pasts legal and other stuff into her comments, which is what she did in the case I mentioned. So I was not really wanting to involve her, apart from referring to what she quoted.

                Perhaps look at clauses or paragraphs 5.3 and 5.4 in the following document:

                http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/governingbody/codeofconductelectedmembers.pdf

                Now, Len Brown certainly had “inside knowledge” of Miss Chuang, which probably only a few may have. But whatever his involvement, when there are personal relationship aspects, he must declare a conflict of interest, to avoid a breach of the Code of Conduct and also “natural justice” aspects.

                This has nothing to do with conspiracy theories by the way!

                • 30.1.2.1.1.1.2.1

                  Yes, fair enough. However, the law professor I mentioned earlier was having a bob each way (“well, yes maybe, it could be interpreted as…” etc.) when the issue of non-disclosure of the supposed conflict of interest with the reference was raised.

                  And fair enough on Penny Bright.

                  However, as I mentioned earlier, unless you can pin an actual crime to Brown, he will, IMHO, tough it out.

                  My other prediction: By next week Brown will start to win some begrudging sympathy as the media continue the onslaught…unless (and I’m not trying to shit-stir) there are other infidelities that come to light.

              • 30.1.2.1.1.1.3

                That’s pretty rich to talk about Penny Bright in that way given the state of your logic and intellect. Penny Bright’s sharper and more knowledgeable about what’s really going than you could ever hope to be.

                • 30.1.2.1.1.1.3.1

                  I take that as an immense compliment.

                  A suggestion: Let’s see in 6 months time if Brown is still mayor, and Bright is still…perpetually on the outer to determine whose logic and intellect are sharper, shall we , Chris?

  31. Just out of curiosity, given the level of hypocrisy that Brown’s actions would seem to indicate – what should Slater have done with the information? Sit on it? Ignore it?

    I don’t have the answer but considering you have indicated he and his actions are contemptible – what should a journalist/blogger do with such information. Because if journalists are to report what in the public interest, there is plenty of that here.

    • Interesting point Tim – he SHOULD publish it! Cherries such as this don’t grow on trees: it’s a rare gift of Golden Eagle poop and if Slater hadn’t used it, it was always going to surface somewhere.

      Slater’s doubled his stock overnight and (if he’s lucky) Len’s halved his. Dog eat dog.

      • 31.1.1

        Slater’s doubled his stock overnight and (if he’s lucky) Len’s halved his. Dog eat dog.

        Hmm? Slater doesn’t seem to be coming out of this all that well.

  32. At first my reaction was this is an intrusion into peoples personal lives and has no bearing on whether or not Brown is a good mayor.While I deplore his morality that does not reflect on his political abilities.
    However with the news today that he was a referee for his mistress for a job with the Auckland Art Gallery which is run by the Auckland City Council and that he gave her a very favourable reference which must have contributed to her getting the job I am changing my view.
    Bluntly Brown must now resign.It is totally inappropriate for a person in his position to do this and borders on corruption.
    He has shown an appalling lack of judgment which is very sad as I thought he was an excellent mayor.

  33. From a certain bloggers website ( Oct 17th) whose name need not be mentioned in polite company;

    “…Had she not received that text message, the whole affair would probably have remained a secret, she said…..”

    With that little pearl in mind this is why LB will not survive and should not. Read on:

    Everyone seems to have an opinion on where to draw the line in these sad and salacious events and that line shifts from one end of the private/public business divide to the other.

    But the line is erased altogether when you consider what any politician opens themself up to when the details are NOT made public…..you can imagine Len receiving this text…..

    ” hi len u ratbg u brk mi hrt, i wnt u 2 ensur i get on dat comitee and i wnt yr vote 4 me in anythg i ask or i spill all d beans, and u will not b mayor much longer.”

    or maybe something like this

    “hi len u stinkn ratbg u brok mi hart but i hv a nu man.hes a developer an we nd a favor u sign d papers u get 2moro or i spill d beans and you will b toast no mayor no famly”

    Where would it all end. It just goes on and on….

    That is exactly why these actions are completely unacceptable in political life and he will undoubatable not be mayor beyond the end of this week. Its nothing to do with anyone’s moral goalposts, whether its his private life or public life. If a politician is able to maneuver himself into a position to be blackmailed whether in his own time or the publics time, then it is all over red rover in my opinion.

    As an analogy, imagine the PM trying to run a cabinet when hes got ministers who are horse trading away behind his back to avoid being exposed and humiliated and having lives reduced to train wrecks. And this guy is at the top of the heap……

  34. Tim..”what should Slater have done with the information? Sit on ? Ignore it? ”
    Makes it sound that Slater just kinda came across the information then had his moral dilemma.
    The reality was way more complex. Slater , reporter Stephen Cook (who wrote the whaleoil story )and Palino PR man Wewege all worked on Chuang to spill the story. Slater had Chuang holed up in a hotel for 48 hrs ) for her protection ( yeah right) .
    They engineered this story right from the start.

    • Well, there would be no story had Brown not had the affair.
      That is the long and the short of it. It happened; it wasn’t engineered by Slater.

      Slater is, after all, the messenger.

      Had Slater not publicized this story, there is a very high probability that it would have leaked out through some other source anyway in the near future.

      I would have thought Brown is legitimately deserving of the greater culpability and scorn for this situation for all the reasons that BE and others here have mentioned, rather than Slater.

      Blaming Slater is just a form of blind denial and suggests that you would have preferred a cover up of potentially unacceptable behaviour (i.e the job reference). Think Watergate.

      • 34.1.1

        The issue doesn’t seem to me to be whether the story should have been published at all, so much as how Slater and Cook went about it.

        As Russell Brown observed, Cook (as writer) and Slater (as publisher) were more interested in the salacious details than the matters of most potential substance, which were picked up on by others.

        http://publicaddress.net/system/cafe/hard-news-moving-right-along/?p=299044#post299044

        Plus, while Chuang is not blameless here, and was certainly naive, it seems obvious that they exploited her.

  35. “When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property.” – T.J.
    as true now as then – I wish a few more people would realise this.
    When I worked for Auckland City Council, we were always told “if someone offers you something, always think, how would this look on the front page of the Herald”
    Pity he didn’t think of this at the time…….

  36. @ Richard
    “they engineered this story right from the stsrt”

    How the story emerged is irrelevant. The events happened as they stand and one of the participating parties revealed the details. Dosent matter how. Immediately there is a story and if ever there was a public interest at stake then it is now. No journalist would loose sleep over this for precisely the reasons I describe about two posts above. The creeping snake of blackmail could have carried on for years. Regardless of the opinions expressed about the source, the revelation has been ultimately in the public good.

  37. Steve and Grant it’s high moral ground on which you stand, fair enough. I am not saying it should have been covered up and linking it to Watergate is stretching it way too far , they don’t even compare. I am asking why do we get so morally offended by a leader having an affair , why does it get more media space than the fact that John Banks is being prosecuted for electoral fraud, effectively taking bribes, now that’s a serious concern.

    Reading the background to the Brown/Chuang saga it seems highly likely she would not have gone public had it not been for the serious pressure from Slater, Cook and Wewege. All three are responsible as is Palino and his campaign manager from a distance. Did that group put the heat on Chuang to spill the beans for the public good. Can you honestly say their motivations were entirely for the public good?

    What is the public good that has come out of this?

  38. Richard, I’m not really interested in the moral high ground. The story is obviously out there now and I’m trying to find some balance in the whole thing.

    I accept actually that there is culpability on both sides here; both Brown’s and Slater’s.

    Brown clearly had the affair, was happy to have the thing covered up to extent that he didn’t want voters to know about it before and during his election campaign, and probably ever. Slater was over the top in the detail he provided and was motivated by political considerations.

    But the fact remains that Brown had the affair, covered it up, and behaved, as has been pointed out, hypocritically. This is the greater offense in my opinion. No amount of apologist comments from Browns liberal/left supporters (an there are many, especially in the media), can exorcise this.

    What is the public good? The public good is that the information about this affair is now out there for everyone to see and to form their own judgement about. Brown is a much more known quality now, for better or worse. His constituency in particular can see him for what he is. There is greater degree of honesty about the reality that is Len Brown. As the liberal left would argue, there is now greater democratic openness surrounding the behaviour of Auckland’s most powerful politician.

    • 38.1

      Sorry, but I don’t see any comparable culpability on Slater’s part. He did just what any crusading journalist would do – certainly what any ex-editor of Truth would do.

      Wewege, yes, by all accounts behaved abominably but not Slater.

  39. I dont have a clue how Watergate fits into the picture. The fact remains that those in high public office cannot allow themselves to get into a position to be compromised to the point that they can be blackmailed. It wouldnt surprise me that the Manchu girl would stoop to this, she has form, and likewise looking at bad boy Browns’s form he would do what it takes to keep the sordid mess secret.His life, job, and his familys humiliation would have all been on the line. For that reason alone the PM would send a minister packing if the same arose on his patch. Problem is bad boy Brown has no scruples and considers himself beyond reproach with no one to send him packing. Sorry Richard, you cant have that state of affairs in high public office.
    Whatever we think about the source of the story the right thing has been done. Christ knows what Manchu girl would have demanded.
    Nothing to do with moral highground. Thats Gods problem.

  40. One must ask…why the hell did Brown not do his mea culpas before the election, he must have known the shit storm would break soon after.
    My guess is his South Auckland constituents will stick with him, after he goes to church, cries a little and asks forgiveness.
    Worst of all, he’s left us with a truly horrible mental picture.

  41. Brown has himself to blame for all this sleazy fiasco. If he had kept his penis inside his pants and thought with his brain instead, non of this would have happened. If Brown had been faithful to his wife and marriage vows, non of this would have happened. If Brown had kept to the code of ethics as set down by the Mayoral office, non of this would have happened.If Brown ignored his selfish ego driven sexual gratification behaviours, non of this would have happened. Brown is a disgrace, brown needs to go. No one wants a sleazy, lying, philandering, untrustworthy, immature, deceitful, little creep of a man as major.

    • Chris from your comments I am must conclude that you need to change your name to “Simon Pure”.

      What is your “pay-off” for making so many over the top statements?

    • Righto Chris, we could have Banks or Palino.

  42. What a mess Len has got himself into. Will he step down as Mayor. It must seem like an attractive option to him in some respects. But he wants to battle on and conduct his mayoralty with this huge orangutan on his back. I suppose the $250,000 salary must help alleviate the shame and guilt. That is a lot of “mullah” to walk away from , and not necessarily easy to replace if he does look for another job. It will take a lot of courage to face up to and deal with the wide range of important people he needs to interact with on a yearly basis.The strain must be enormous and I hope he doesn’t crack under the pressure given he has already had a heart attack in 2008.
    Joe Blo

  43. I agree- My strongest gut feeling was to Rolf Harris

  44. The silver lining is that we have been warned not to elect a future politician called Luigi.

  45. Len Brown is still the mayor of Auckland, Palino co are history and the Slaters are….well, just that….creepy crawly bugs.

    • Luigi Wewege aka Rasputin wannabe might want to consider changing his name by deed poll to Linguini Weiner.

    • 45.2

      Matt McCarten whom I would think has a much more direct knowledge of John Slater than you refutes your opinion: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11142915

      As for Cameron, he has an open agenda and pursues it openly. I find the likes of Paul Little far more creepy and stomach churning.

      • No, no, Alan.

        Don’t let the facts get in the way of the Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy paranoia Kat has lived since the Hanna Barbera cossacks danced across her TV screen in 1975, funded in part by the CIA. Not to mention the odd sinister cabal of Closed Brethren…

        Now repeat after me: “The current plight of the Auckland mayor is the work of the nasty Tories”.

        • 45.2.1.1

          I wondered how long it would take for “The Dancing Cossacks”,the CIA and The Bretheren to appear.Poor old Kimbo living in the shadow of the VRWC.And don’t forget the CIA murdered Norman Kirk.
          These convoluted conspiracy theories make as much sense as if I blamed the rise of Winston Peters on the KGB.

          • It’s OK, A G Hudson.

            Like me, I assume you are a Kiwi so we are both irony challenged.

            However, when Kat starts posting about how the Labour faithful have had elections stolen from them by such nefarious means, it is time to handing out the tin foil hats.

            • “…..elections stolen from them…”

              I would regard that as fairly weak and amateur comment, Kimbo. Are you finally running out of words?

      • “As for Cameron, he has an open agenda and pursues it openly”.

        Yea right Alan, and my name is Santa, how gullible do you think we are???

        • 45.2.2.1

          In your case, Johan, vastly. And if you can’t see Cameron’s heart on his sleeve you need a guide dog.

        • Um, johan, I would have thought Slater’s motives and ambitions were crystal clear.

          He despises Brown’s politics and policies, as he does with nearly all Labour, Green, Mana, and NZ First personalities.

          He wants to see Brown out of office

          He also wants to promote his blog

          Bevan Chuang was the opportunity to do both.

          The threatening texts received and the affidavit were the premise.

          Where is the lack of openness?!

    • Kat, you are being very unkind to these tiny beasties!

  46. Can someone help me out here. Was there the same kind of public reaction and calls for resignation when David Lange’s affair with his speech-writer became public as there has been for Len Brown’s affair?

  47. And don’t forget this man was caught using his council credit card for personal use, nothing illegal but morally wrong. Do we want a person who lacks moral judgement of what is right and wrong to continue as mayor?
    If he stays will there’re be a third indiscretion?

  48. Some claim that Len’s moral failings dictate he should resign, but what of the moral failings of the right in their lack of concern for individuals, what of the moral failings of Tau Henare for his dismissal of the concerns of parliaments cleaners. The reason for invoking a moral argument seems often nothing less than to back up a political prejudice.

    I don’t think moral failings are an adequate argument for resignation.

    I’ve been struggling with whether I think Brown should resign, on one hand his actions were reprehensible and indicative of a personal failing. On the other hand he’s been a mostly effective professional politician.

    I know what I want Brown to do, repent, and none of this confessional Hail Mary’s Catholic nonsense, but a wikipedia type repentance “an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible” He’s half way there, maybe 100 hours volunteering work at a charity of his wifes choosing. But for goodness sake Len, man up and repent properly.

    • 48.1

      I would just like the Left to acknowledge that individual citizens are at least as morally worthy as the corrupt political bureaucracy that aspires to control them, their lives, their property and their freedoms.

      I realise that that is as likely as to see large pigs fly past my upstairs windows.

      • 48.1.1

        I would just like the Right to acknowledge that there’s some nuance in the matter of what best serves the moral worth of the “individual citizen”.

        I realise that that is as likely as Miley Cyrus appearing in another Disney film.

        • 48.1.1.1

          “what best serves the moral worth”

          Would you like to translate that nonsense into English?

          • 48.1.1.1.1

            No need to be grumpy. The issue isn’t that the Left don’t acknowledge individual citizens as morally worthy; it’s that they have different views as to what that acknowledgment entails.

            • 48.1.1.1.1.1

              Oh no, the Left have no faith whatever in the morality of individuals. They cannot be trusted to do anything and must be compelled by law and the state to do everything good. The Left hate people and we see it repeatedly in every political blog and debate. In contrast, the Right hate bad policies and laws.

              • You seem in good form Alan, you must have plenty of material now for that super fiction novel “Saints of the Rabid Right” or are you still just working on your autobiography “Ramblings from a tiny Island”?

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.1.1

                  Obviously geography is not your strong point either, Kat. Russell is not an island. No, I am still researching for a rather massive blockbuster: “New Zealand’s Loony Lefties and Other Losers”. The scope is rather daunting though.

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.1.2

                  > ‘I am still researching for a rather massive blockbuster: “New Zealand’s Loony Lefties and Other Losers”. The scope is rather daunting though.”‘

                  Bob Jones has been writing that in column and book form for decades. No one cares.

              • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2

                “Oh no, the Left have no faith whatever in the morality of individuals. They cannot be trusted to do anything and must be compelled by law and the state to do everything good.”

                The Left generally support things like same sex marriage. The Right are often hypocrites who want to get the government out of their pocket (i.e. lower taxes) but want the state to make prostitution illegal.

                “The Left hate people and we see it repeatedly in every political blog and debate.”

                You have issues.

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2.1

                  You are correct that the conservative Right want to impose their own morality on everyone. That is why I am a liberal, not a conservative.

                  No I don’t have issues, just experience. Eg, you won’t find personal attacks in this thread from the Right, just from the Left. If Brown had been a Nat this whole thread would have been vitriolic.

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2.2

                  But you said that “[the] Left hate people and we see it repeatedly in every political blog and debate. In contrast, the Right hate bad policies and laws.”

                  Do you now accept that the right, if they’re not libertarians like you, also hate people?

                  As for vitriol, didn’t you just categorise a group of people whose views you don’t agree with as ‘losers’?

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2.3

                  @Steve, no, I think that the Left overwhelmingly dominate the hate statistics. Conservatives do want to impose their morals on the rest of us but except for the most extreme US-type lunatic evangelicals they don’t hate us.

                  As for my book title, a mere alliterative reposte to Kat’s rabid right and as such a cap to be worn only by those it fits.

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2.4

                  So if you want to impose, say, a CGT on people, you must hate people, but if you want to impose your “morals” on people, you’re just a bit misguided?

                  Your distinction is flimsy. And it seems to me that your simplistic broad brush description of ‘the Left’ as hateful is as childish as the epithet throwing you’re criticising.

                • 48.1.1.1.1.1.2.5

                  @steve, hadn’t noticed your comment before but it is nonsense. The hatreds of the Left are demonstrated explicitly by their vitriolic personal attacks on people. The distinction is not subtle.

    • The difference is, Henare didn’t claim the moral high ground (if that’s possible in respect of toilet cleaner’s wages) and Brown did. The latter did a heap of high-moral tub-thumping in his campaigning efforts then subsequently declared himself a fraud, whereas the former did not.

      I’m not against married people shagging about, but I strongly object to those adults claiming to be something they’re not: that’s MY issue. And Len Brown has the morals of a farmyard cat. As such I appreciate Kim Dotcom, and
      detest John Banks: I believe it was Barbara Bush, speaking of Bill Clinton’s apparently appalling memory, “you may forget where you left your car keys or that you had an appointment for dinner, but you don’t forget oral sex no matter how good or bad it was”. I’d say the same applies to helicopter flights to a Coatesville mansion.

  49. First, the dreary, banal, pointless Americas Cup, now Lascivious Len and his craving for sexual danger. Once again, the news agenda is overwhelmingly dominated by something I don’t give a flying fig about. How do we escape this bullshit ?

    • Well, markus, the America’s Cup is no more or less dreary, bland and pointless than any other sporting event, but in this case New Zealand were leading right up to the point they suddenly came last. We’re not likely to be in the next Wimbledon final, so you’d better rejoice in Team NZ. Bonking Brown is topic du jour so there’s no avoiding that either.

      I recommend listening to the BBC World Service on 810MW. There, you can learn of the joys of organic farming in Transylvania, the decline of Leyland’s Lesser Spotter Tree Frog in Rwanda (due to loss of habitat), and hear countless replays of Desert Island Discs, a worthy entertainment which sadly ran out of interesting subjects in about 1961.

      • 49.1.1

        The sweet smell of common sense, Thanks, Zinc.

        • As a crackpot, how would you know common sense if it bit you in the bum?

          • 49.1.1.1.1

            As a contributor of nothing but personal attacks you are obviously a typical Lefty.

            • Alan, there are also some well known righties, who now and then make personal attacks on this blog. We all get carried away, however, it is best if our statements are made in a factual and pleasant manner.

              • 49.1.1.1.1.1.1

                I agree with your second sentence. Can’t say I’ve seen much supporting evidence for the first.

    • And now, as I knew it would, the saga of the Mayor of Auckland (where?) has almost literally descended into bedroom farce and been replaced on the ‘news’ front by other equally trivial garbage. My advice to those looking for real information and background (which alone qualifies you to understand ‘news’) is to subscribed to the New York Review, The Guardian Weekly or The Economist (depending on your political bent). You will only get it here by way of a selective diet of the National Program radio and then only for a fraction of their broadcast time

  50. I don’t think a politican cheating on their partner suggests a greater capacity for lying to the public as some people have suggested. John Key seems to be happily married and he has told numerous lies over the past few years. Nick Smith is probably faithful to his partner but he lied in Parliament. John Banks seems like the faithful type and he lied about money he recieved as a political donation.

  51. Cough cough – I think you will find Nick Smith is married to his 2nd wife with whom he was having extra marital thingamies while married to his first wife.

    • Very interesting! Do politicians have a flexible character or is this a trait that some people only obtain when living a privileged lifestyle, selectivity,etc., eventually “power goes to their head”.

  52. To all the participating Liberals on this blog, hope you respect the democratic representation after the next general election.

    • 52.1

      Is there any historic evidence to expect otherwise in this country? Assuming you mean respect in the sense of democratic opposition to bad policies?

      Actually I find the prospect deeply depressing on current evidence that the hard Left will wreck the economy, freedoms and opportunities for New Zealanders. In the not very long run the poor will suffer the most from their delusions and profound ignorance – as they have everywhere else these delusions have taken over a nation.

      • In precisely the same way that the hard Right wrecked the economy, our freedoms and our culture in the eighties and nineties perhaps, Alan?

        • 52.1.1.1

          You evidently suffer this delusion quite seriously, Tony. The reforms you deplore opened opportunities for all young New Zealanders, including myself, from Muldoon’s closed, bankrupt and doomed command economy. Where, for example, a teenage relative was held and given the third degree by Customs for the crime of bringing back a transistor radio on a trip to Sydney.

          You want to go back to that? You belong in North Korea or Cuba.

          • Personal abuse is water off a duck’s back to me, Alan. I’ve been attacked in public not only by Muldoon when he was Leader of the Opposition but by Holyoake and Clark when they were Prime Ministers. If you want to engage in a serious debate about Muldoon, Lange et al then you need to deal in facts and issues, not in name calling. No-one in their right mind would wish to live in North Korea although most of the critics of the present regime there seem to have the wrong end of the stick. This is usually because they know nothing of Korean history and culture in much the same way that those who have mindlessly criticised China in the past and who continue to do so know nothing of its history or culture. They do it because people with a political agenda tell them they should. Cuba might be more interesting to visit although again I have no wish to live there. Why would I when I have a perfectly good country of my own to live in? My son visited Cuba a couple of years ago under the auspices of a large international rum manufacturer and had some perceptive observations to make about his experience which put it on my list of places to go and have a bit of a squiz for myself. My suggestion would be that you read a couple of my books – ‘The Slump’ perhaps or ‘A Vision Betrayed’ and come back to me and we can then have an informed debate about the Lange government and its consequences within its general historical framework

            • 52.1.1.1.1.1

              I may need to read your books to be informed about you, Tony, but I don’t need to read them to be informed about Muldoon and Douglas’s policies.

              Enough blather about irrelevancies. Which of Muldoon’s policies do you still support and which of Douglas’s do you oppose.

              • Alan: The question you pose underlines the point I have made about the importance of understanding the history of a society and the political culture it engenders before making pronunciamentos about its current state. In this particular case the policy differences between Muldoon and Douglas are irrelevant. What is important is how their policies related to the elections of 1890 and 1893 and the political culture they engendered as reinforced by the actions of the Savage/ Fraser governments initiated by the election of 1935. Muldoon accepted the lineaments of that culture but made a mess of trying to follow its requirements in New Zealand’s rapidly changing economic circumstances. Douglas rejected it but similarly made a mess of trying to follow an alternative course also required by New Zealand’s changing economic circumstances. The irony is, of course, that given the antecedents of the two parties in whose name they acted it should have been the other way around. You don’t need to know anything about me to understand this any more than I need to know anything about you to understand your position

                • 52.1.1.1.1.1.1.1

                  “Muldoon accepted the lineaments of that culture but made a mess of trying to follow its requirements in New Zealand’s rapidly changing economic circumstances. Douglas rejected it but similarly made a mess of trying to follow an alternative course also required by New Zealand’s changing economic circumstances”.

                  Yeah, Nah. Sorry tony simpson, enough obfuscation and bob-each-wayism. Kindly answer Alan’s question with specific examples:

                  “Which of Muldoon’s policies do you still support and which of Douglas’s do you oppose.”

                  I’m willing to be persuaded by the wisdom you obviously possess on certain subjects. However, there is some onus on you to earn the right to have your works considered as necessary texts, “if you want to engage in a serious debate about Muldoon, Lange et al”.

                  Cheers,

                  Kimbo

                • 52.1.1.1.1.1.1.2

                  I’m still waiting to hear how the hard Right wrecked our economy and freedoms in the eighties and nineties. Not so interested in the culture which tends to be completely out of control of politicians and flourish in adversity. Not that I think there’s much evidence NZ’s suffered during the period in question.

                  What did take a big hit was socialist ideology and all its apparatus and control over our lives. No loss there in my opinion.

                • 52.1.1.1.1.1.1.3

                  Tony, just ask them the same question back and you’ll get the usual rabid manic right wing ‘Tea Party ideology.

                  Alan can’t help himself, he is a dyed in the wool honest liberal, but fun to banter with and try and guess whether it’s the Duce, McCarthy, Nixon, Raygun or Bushy era’s he really prefers. We know he hates Muldoon, NZ’s one and only preeminent benevolent dictator of any relevance.

                  Kimbo, the ex Labourite lackey, will write you a bible on any subject, he has an opinion on everything above and under the sun, the moon and Mars and sometimes even Pluto! Be prepared to be ignored though if you hit him with the plain truth in plain English.

                  Roll on 2014 eh!

                • 52.1.1.1.1.1.1.4

                  Kat, I doubt Tony wants your help even if you could give it. And it wasn’t me who made the allegation I have challenged so I won’t be defending it by answering my,own question. I think I have said before about the only good Muldoon ever did that I can recall was pardon Arthur Thomas.

      • My meaning is that as a self declared Liberal you must therefore support the principle of democratic representation.

        • What is the alternative, Kat?

          Are you expecting Alan to form armed resistance to a Labour-Green government like a right-wing version of the Urewera group?!

          • Alan doesn’t have an alternative, but as a Liberal he must respect the democratic representation, unless gerrymandering is evident. And as you so often trumpet Kimbo, it’s the middle class that determine election outcomes in this country, and one must not pour scorn on those middle class ‘floaters’ must we.

        • 52.1.2.2

          I don’t follow your logic, Kat. As a liberal I believe in economic, personal and social freedom. Democracy may or may not be a means to that end. It is certainly no guarantee of it as the election of numerous tyrants shows.

          • Well, Alan, you had better get out there and educate those ‘floaters’ to vote en masse for economic, personal and social freedom. They certainly haven’t done that in the last two elections giving rise to the resultant failed economics, high unemployment, industrial age education policy, draconian spying laws and the emergence of numerous ‘tyrants’. To mention just a few.

            • Geez, Kat, I know I get accused (rightly at times I might add) of being verbose and abstruse, but what the hell is your point?! It ain’t “real democracy” unless Labour-Greens win?! Cue: Dancing Cossacks!

              OK, if so, say it so we can all have a laugh – including maybe even johan.

              • You seem to have this thing about ‘dancing cossacks’ like a stuck record, blip…blip…blip…blip…blip…blip….

                • 52.1.2.2.1.1.1.1

                  Kimbo, it appears you now subscribe to the notion that a vote is wasted on people who don’t think like you… Democracy is really annoying, isn’t it, because it acts as a constraint, particularly to those ‘tyrants’ of Alan’s.

            • 52.1.2.2.1.2

              Not much evidence for your list of failures, Kat. NZ has had one of the most successful economies in the world over this period. Likewise lowest unemployment, improved education and health management, and formalizing control of the spy agencies that previously ran amuck and unfettered under the late unlamented Labour government.

              Yes, we have a sadly corrupted and economically illiterate electorate and most of the mainstream media. Not much I can do about that. They will reap the consequences of their folly.

              • Any success since 2008 in the NZ economy is due mainly to Michael Cullen. Ans, If we are to follow your ‘logic’ then the electorate must be at this time reaping the consequences of their folly.

                • 52.1.2.2.1.2.1.1

                  For judt one example, the low values of power companies caused by support for the idiotic redGreen nationalisations. There are many others.

          • Actually, on second thoughts, Alan, you DO reside in Russell, which I seem to remember was the some-time haunt of that subversive Hone Heke, until he burnt it to the ground.

            I’m just grateful we now have the GCSB monitoring your actions, and blog trail ;)

  53. Alan is this freedom a form of Anarchy?

    • Maybe it’s just “another word for nothing left to lose”.

      Sorry, I think this thread may have reached farce point where we are trawling over familiar arguments – and apologies to all if my contributions helped facilitate us in that situation.

    • 53.2

      It’s the freedom to innovate, be eccentric, be responsible for one’s own life and decisions that made successive nations great and the gradual loss of which slowly ruined them.

      Those who hate freedom would believe it to be anarchy. The difference is that personal property and life is protected and no-one is free to cause significant harm to others.

  54. I love this left right ping pong each secure in the knowledge that they are right and the other side are deluded. Personally I do not see much hope of any great change for the better no matter whichever mob holds sway. Key, Cunliffe and Norman; one may as well be asked to choose between Burke, Hare and Sweeny Todd.

    As for the long suffering poor who trouble Alan, they will continue to be long suffering since those that have, generally do not like the idea of transferring it to the have nots much as they may claim to be in favour over the dinner table. Many of the haves also have the ability to keep their wealth out of the clutches of those who believe in transferring other people’s wealth.

    The general idea of transfer of wealth is limited to flicking the odd coin at a beggar with the most convincing sign.

    • 54.1

      Actually very many of the successful are directly involved in trying to help others gain the skills and knowledge to succeed.

    • I fully agree with you Ben. We, in New Zealand, are slowly becoming a plutocracy. The system is broken and there needs to be changes made at the local and national levels of responsibility. Then, we are able to guide ourselves into the direction that will give us the society we want.

  55. Well, Len Brown is ‘still’ mayor of Auckland :)

    • Well done, Kat.

      The most perceptive comment so far.

      Mind you, a week is a long time in politics…

      • Your observant comment accepted, Kimbo.

        However, for Alan and yourself and other Key supporters the time between now and the next election will be long, and painful.

        • 55.1.1.1

          Why, Kat? I haven’t campaigned against Brown. Seems to me that Brian and his supporters here will be much more upset. I’m rather looking forward to being entertained by the morally confused on their moral high ground. And the time after the next election will be far more painful for most of us if the redGreens win power.

  56. Oh dear, Kat. Sack cloth and ashes time for Left:
    http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9332786/Poll-a-major-blow-to-Labour

    National governing alone. Camp Cunliffe in despair.

    • Fairfax Media-Ipsos Poll…yeah right! Probably as you said earlier… “sadly corrupted and economically illiterate electorate and most of the mainstream media”

      • 56.1.1

        So you pick and choose your poll results, Kat? Funny, I recall you getting all excited about one not very long ago.

        And I wouldn’t put my old chess mate and champion, Vernon, into that category of clueless journalism. Vernon definitely has brains.

        • Nope, never been into polls, except the main one on election day. Party internal polling maybe useful tool, the others with associated media spin are manipulative and should be banned, at least in election year. I don’t need a ‘weatherman’ to know which way the wind blows.

  57. Alan & Kimbo: Sorry, but for some reason your responses to my message don’t contain a facility for a reply so I can’t do so and have to adopt this means of getting back to you. Perhaps another time

    • 57.1

      The reply indentation is limited for the practical reason that the text column becomes unreadably narrow. The usual workaround is to reply at the first available point above.

    • Thanks, Tony

      BTW, my grand father had to spend time in work gangs in Central Otago doing relief work during the Depression, so when I saw your book “The Sugarbag Years” a few years ago, the title had resonance.

      I’ll look to review sometime soon.

      Cheers,

      Kimbo

  58. Lies Damned Lies and Polls

  59. This is special for Kimbo and Alan, who appear to be the only ones happy with the most recent political poll results.
    A famous National member a while back exclaimed, “BUGGER the POLLS”! Why was that Kimbo and Alan?

    • 59.1

      Relax, Johan. I am.

    • Where did I “appear” happy with the most recent political poll results?

      The only poll interpreter I listen to is markus.

    • Oh, look, another poll!

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9346241/Labour-Greens-take-edge-in-poll

      “Labour – Greens take edge in poll”

      And before you go diagnosing TAB syndrome of 8.2 and rising on the Richter scale, johan, the one piece of advice consider useful with poll data is the cumulative trend they indicate.

      Too early yet to tell if Key is marching to the gallows, or your red-haired messiah’s mission will likely end in tears. Let’s see how they scrub up in the New Year, once the honeymoon effect is over for Cunliffe, and folks have had a welcome break from considering politics.

      IMHO

      • I am always happy to receive your advice, Kimbo.

        The TAB has gone down a bit due to John Key’s impressive photo snaps while on holiday overseas, yuk, yuk!

        • Lovely, weren’t they? Then again, you egalitarian socialists probably disapprove of the photos with Betty Windsor (God Bless QEII and all who sail in her!).

          One obvious cause for increased TAB before Christmas – the referendum on the partial asset sales. The Government will be lucky to get 40% voting in favour, possibly even as low as 20%. I’ll be doing my bit for them, though :)

  60. Tony enjoyed your adept summation of Muldoon and Douglas. I always thought think big was a good idea which needed the right environment to be successful. I found Rogernomics more difficult to come to terms with.

    • The only politician of that era who I thought understood the problems facing us once Britain joined the (then) EEC was Norman Kirk. Whether he had a solution or not we’ll never know because of his untimely death. But I also thought many of his social views were appalling (homophobic, authoritarian, and anti-intellectual for example). Muldoon seemed to think that if you added another line of sandbags to the wall and looked inwards there was no problem. Why people seemed to think that he knew what he was doing economically was something I could never understand. Douglas on the other hand seemed to think that if you tore the wall down and let it all wash over us somehow ‘the market’ would see that it would come right, which was actually quite loopy in retrospect (and as some of us said at the time). We seem to have survived economically, mainly by guess and by God, but the cost to our social structure and our culture has been horrendous

      • 60.1.1

        We have survived economically because when individuals have the freedom and incentive they make good, sound and efficient decisions.

        Yes, our social structure and culture has changed enormously but for many reasons including immigration, welfare dependency, education, technology, women’s emancipation as well as far more economic freedom. Mostly I would say it has changed for the better though some inevitable losses in adapting to future shock as Toffler put it.

  61. Bevan Chuang was Len Brown’s NSFW!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V60zstViy-E

  62. Len Brown is late for a meeting ..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBqM2ytqHY4&feature=youtu.be&a

  63. So….its a story of five men and a woman, and not one of the men have come to the woman’s rescue when she needed….ummmn….rescuing.

    Fantastic Labour conference, I must say Brian DC did well with no notes!

  64. Have I missed something Brains?

    Have you not heard?

    There is a debate raging at the minute … something about

    “Mayor” … “Running Amuck” … “Conscience Vote” … “Resign you lowlife”.

    Sitting on a fence somewhere … huh?