Like an old All Black calling for a bit more mongrel in the pack, Sir Bob Jones has called for a bit of biffo in the election campaign.
Rodney Hide would do it in a walk, he reckons, if he slugged Peter Dunne.
Helen Clark would leave the others for dust if she cracked Don Brash over the noggin with a handbag.
I’ve never really seen Helen as the handbag type, but I can see what Jones is getting at.
However I can’t remember Jones hanging one on anyone during his one election campaign, in 1984. Had he decked Lange our history might have been much different.
He makes one semi-serious criticism, which is that all the main leaders are being too reasonable, and run arguments which seem aimed at winning over their opponents.
I’ve noticed this is a problem Don Brash has – I hadn’t noticed it about the others though. OK, perhaps Peter Dunne, but his reasons are strategic.
I’ve seen Brash do this on the finance and expenditure select committee, back when he was National’s finance spokesman. I’ve even seen him do it more recently at question time.
One of the first things you get taught when you engage in competitive debating is that you are never going to convince your opponents. That’s not what they’re there for.
It’s a flaw many inherently reasonable people, convinced of the truth of their arguments, fall into though. Its one Brash makes time and time again.
Its even on the otherwise excellent campaign opening piece which ran on Friday night. Brash came over as personable, a bit old-fashioned (nothing wrong with that) and thoroughly reasonable. The overall tone – and it will be tone which wins over swinging voters, not content – will be very effective at neutering Labour’s charges that he is some sort of extremist.
However he spends too much time talking about his history as a peace protester and the like. Who is that aimed at? People who are currently peace protesters?? They’re never going to vote National. National voters? They’re unlikely to be impressed.
It mars what would otherwise have been an excellent broadcast.