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Posts Tagged 'Len Brown'

On Len Brown And The Problem With Haloes


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.   Read the rest of this entry »


Banks or Brown? Brown or Banks? Who’s really Mr Nice? Who’s really Mr Nasty? Who’s neither?


It’s confusing. I thought I knew who Len Brown was and I thought I knew who John Banks was. Crudely expressed, Brown was Mr Nice and Banks was Mr Nasty. There’s something reassuring about that sort of simplistic delineation of character. For one thing, it makes political options easier. Given the choice of having Mr Nice or Mr Nasty run things for us, we’d all choose Mr Nice of course. Or would we?

Deborah Hill Cone expresses an interesting view of this in this morning’s Herald. In a column headlined Bad is best – the good guys don’t get the job done, she writes: 

‘Personally, I’d choose a bolshie Churchillian with a filthy mouth and bad temper but great leadership chops over a well-spoken, mild-mannered, hand-holding type.’ 

She’s not alone. If you look at the men and women New Zealanders have chosen to lead the country, a very clear picture arises of our taste in Prime Ministers. A perception of strength, bordering on tyranny, is the essential prerequisite. We prefer the bully to the (perceived) wimp. Muldoon and Rowling provide the clearest example. Muldoon, most people would agree, looked like a bully; Rowling, in reality a very strong personality, came across as weak and ineffectual. Muldoon beat him in three elections. 

At the local body level, Banks and Hubbard illustrate this phenomenon. Aucklanders got rid of Banks because he was nasty and they thought they wanted someone nice. Hubbard was nice. But it didn’t take the citizenry long to realise that nice wasn’t what they wanted after all. Banks was back. As Hill Cone rightly observes: ‘Hubbard would be welcomed into anyone’s knitting circle but that may not be the first quality on the list for great mayors.’    Read the rest of this entry »


Of Bullies and Sensitive New Age Guys [Some free advice for Brown and Banks]

Now here’s a curious thing – when the people of Auckland tossed John Banks out as Mayor what they were looking for in a replacement was someone decent, nice, caring, maybe even just a bit saintly. And that is precisely what they got in Dick Hubbard.  But three years later they threw out the decent, nice, caring, maybe even just a bit saintly chap and brought back the not-so-decent, not-so-nice, not-so-caring and definitely not a bit saintly Mr Banks.

What had gone wrong? Well, Mr Hubbard was no less decent, nice, caring, saintly after three years than he was at the beginning. So it can’t have been that. And, though Mr Banks claimed to have turned over a new leaf, we all knew that leopards never really changed their spots and voted him back in anyway.

You see, the trouble was that Dick was a bit wishy-washy and somewhat  eccentric in the way he talked and looked and moved. He wore his religious belief on his sleeve and used high-flown words like ‘vision’ and ‘community’. He really was a nice man, but we didn’t know what to make of him. He made us feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. We’d thought he was what we wanted, but he wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »