Monday, September 12, 2005

Met the Candidates last night

Fire dancers, buskers, stalls, topless revellers, the Exclusive Brethren Choir, Rio came to Wellington Central! Pushing my way through the throng that encircled St Michael's Church in Kelburn towards the Meet the Candidates Meeting last night, I couldn't help thinking this is the Wellington I love.

Actually, you'd hardly know anything was happening. There was no-one outside. Inside, a cadaverous fellow informed me that while the hall was booked, no-one mentioned that seats would be required & so they were locked up in another building.

SO I dunno, a couple of hundred people, many standing, many sitting on the floor. Few looked like locals (a fact confirmed by the comments of some of the candidates to hecklers). I'll say this slowly, a-lot-of-very-strange-looking-people. Y'know... fanatics.

I have no idea who the convenor was. Such was his charm & effervescence, I don't think I'll try to find out. Although... some of you who may remember Joe 90's father will get the idea.

First up, the candidates got 10 or so minutes to state their case. And let me say right here, that I was disappointed that Michael Appleby of Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis was a no show. I mean, he lives about 100 yards from the venue & I'd have thought he'd be a shoo-in on his home turf. Maybe he was "otherwise" engaged & forgot. Dude!.

So where was I... Oh yeah, first up was the odd fellow from the Progressives. No limericks this week. Then was Marion Hobbs, and that was the first time I'd seen her speak live, and I was a little impressed. Sure, you can see the old schoolteacher coming through in her manner & tone, but that stood her well with hecklers. She talked electorate stuff.

Then came the United Future candidate (forgive me, I can't be arsed looking up their names, but no matter, you won't need to remember them either). Followed by the equally... words fail me at this point... Alliance candidate.

Then Blumsky. And he did OK, he was heckled probably a shade more than Hobbs was, but it'd be a close call. Blumsky probably needs to talk a bit louder too at these things & be a bit more self assured. Oddly (I thought), he focussed on party policy rather than electorate affairs, but that may be because that's what his hecklers were interested in heckling him about. Blumsky's a likeable guy, I waved to him earlier in the day when he was out on the street & I drove past him & his entourage holding signs. I'd have tooted the horn, but I always have trouble tooting the horn on our car. Hey, I tried!

Next was Steven Franks, making a play quite openly, for the party vote. Same for Sue Kedgeley & the Greens. I don't know if a lot of people came up from Aro Valley, and I might be mistaken, but I got the distinct impression the majority of the crowd were not averse to their Greens.

This bit was followed by questions & answers, and I know it's too late for this advice, but I honestly don't see the point in asking general questions of ALL the candidates.

A few of the better comments heard:

Hobbs, to a heckler: "Don't get me started madam, I've seen your face at too many of these meetings."

United Future girlie: "I'm a student & I don't know any 25 year olds who still live with their parents"
The Audience then fell about laughing. All of them.
United Future girlie: "Hey, that's how I see it, I'm a student!"
Heckler: "We're parents!"

Stephen Franks on Sue Kedgeley's early interjections "Perhaps you'd like to speak & I'll interject then? It'd be easier." (or thereabouts from memory).

The Progressive guy apropos the number of people on sickness benefits: "I don't think anyone in this room knows the answer to that question."
Heckler: "Sit down then!" (he didn't).

Afterwards, Old Mr 90 said we could all mingle, but most went home straight away. I did a quick recce looking to say hello to Jordan Carter (but was told he was gone) and David Farrar (not there). I may be mistaken, but I suspect I saw Mr & Miss Ten in attendance, I decided not to introduce myself, anyway, they were busy in conversation with someone else. And they'd probably have no idea who I was anyway.

But may as well mention, what I wanted from these (and other) party stalwarts, is a couple of dozen of those rosettes they wear. I have a legitimate & (publicly) unembarrassing use for them next Saturday night... anyone know how I can score some?