What the MSM and I see as credible candidates for Auckland Mayor must be two different things
In my “To the Local Elections 2013” post on June 1, I mentioned this about our Main Stream Media:
“Seems the Main Stream Media have been caught stumbling and hedging their “contracts” wrong with Williamson out of the race and them now scrambling to find out who John Palino is – #twits”
After watching The Nation on TV3 and Q&A on TV1 over the weekend, my quoted comment was only reinforced. Although putting a bit of a disclaimer here first; I have never watched either program despite the “hype” by junkies on Twitter. After watching both over Queen’s Birthday weekend though, I am not going to be watching them again any time soon. The interviewers for both shows were wooden, unimaginative and basically don’t know how to conduct an interview; while the Mayor just trotted out his PR lines twice in two days. At that rate I be better reading his PR fluff on the council website.
Wooden interviews and PR spin aside, what has me interested is the MSM still stumbling over themselves with Williamson no longer running for mayor.
The Nation made no mention of the mayoral race while Q&A’s panel might need to be a bit more clued up. A bit disturbing that a former lecturer of mine – Dr Raymond Miller made a comment that no one was challenging Len. For a very well-known NZ politics guru you might think Dr Miller was keeping an eye on the mayoral elections in Auckland.
Brian Rudman from the NZ Herald seems to be stepping up though. Before he went on his two-week holiday he did write a piece looking at money being an influence on running for Auckland mayor.
From Rudman and the NZH:
Second term likely for Brown as cost of campaign makes removing the incumbent a rich person’s sport
Maurice Williamson‘s brief flirtation with fame is officially over. Dithering cost him his chance to become an international gay icon and common sense has persuaded him, and more to the point his financial backers, to abandon any bid for the Auckland mayoralty.
On Friday, the Minister for Statistics, Building and Construction issued a statement saying “after much thought and in-depth analysis, including looking at personal, political, funding and other circumstances, I have decided not to contest the mayoralty.” He wanted to “remain focused on serving his Pakuranga constituents and fulfilling ministerial responsibilities.”
It was a wise decision, though I’m surprised it took him much thought or analysis at all. Particularly if he’d caught up with the polling conducted by UMR Research on May 13.
Using its experimental online panel, which is carefully balanced to reflect the demographics of the Auckland electorate, potential voters were asked, “While it is still early days, would you be more likely to vote for Len Brown or Maurice Williamson in an Auckland Mayoral election?”
Incumbent Mayor Brown stormed in with 43 per cent of the vote. Mr Williamson scored just 17 per cent, while 13 per cent said “neither” and another 26 per cent were “unsure”.
Fair enough analysis from Rudman there – especially when one sees those kind of poll numbers. However, Rudman does fall down in the latter half of his piece:
Again from the NZH
Having seen off Mr Williamson without as much as a boo, Mr Brown seems set for an untroubled stroll into a second term as the Super City mayor. If the last election is any guide, already declared leftish gadflies like John Minto and Penny Bright will be struggling to stay afloat in a 22-strong field.
TV restaurateur and millionaire New York emigre John Palino is threatening to spend up to $1 million on a campaign centred on turning Manukau City into Auckland’s new, modern city centre. It’s a cheeky plunge into Mayor Brown’s home turf, but like rapid rail, canals across the isthmus and similar brainstorms from past mayoral hopefuls, seems a plan doomed to the footnotes of history.
On the fringes, the right wing collective of councillors, “Communities and Residents” – formerly known as Citrats – is warming up to fight against Mayor Brown’s Unitary Plan. After their poor showing in 2010, leader Christine Fletcher admitted her team had failed to connect with Aucklanders. She pledged “to address this”. But, without a mayoral candidate to coalesce behind, getting their message across, whatever that might be, will be tough.
Even if the polling for Mr Williamson had offered more hope, funding a campaign would have been a major hurdle. Mr Palino’s talk of needing a campaign fund of between $500,000 to $1 million is the reality of a Super City mayoral campaign.
Last September, Mayor Brown, who won the 2010 race with a $390,000 campaign chest, cheekily declared the $580,000 spending cap, set by law for Auckland mayoral candidates, was too high. He said it “could mean the election is … bought by a wealthy candidate”.
What he conveniently omitted was the enormous ratepayer-funded advantage he has as incumbent, with a staff of 23 and an annual budget of $3.2 million with which to promote his every word and deed.
Thanks to the presidential-style mayoralty imposed on Auckland by central government, removing the incumbent seems destined to be a rich person’s sport. A game for millionaires, or someone with millionaire backers. With the postage on a standard letter, 70 cents, a single letter alone to each potential voter will devour much of the permitted war chest.
The worry is that voter turn-out would plunge with a one-horse mayoral race.
In 2010, the novelty of the new city structure plus a keenly contested mayoralty had 51 per cent of eligible Aucklanders voting. Poor as that turn-out is, it was a great result compared with the 38 per cent average turn-out of the 2007 Auckland local government poll
Is Rudman being dismissive of the mayoral race already. If he is then he would be with the bulk of the MSM and some of the right-wing blogs (Whale Oil being one). This dismissive attitude is going to lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy of “The worry is that voter turn-out would plunge with a one-horse mayoral race.” We could very well see less than 37% of Auckland voting for mayor – and that does not give whoever becomes mayor for the 2014-2016 term much of a “mandate” per-se.
And IF what is highlighted in bold does happen in this year’s elections I would put the blame squarely back onto the MSM for failing in its 4th Estate duties. We have two quality candidates running – both credible (although that could be subjective depending which way one leans). On the left is Mayor Len Brown and on the “right” is John Palino.
Both have their respective visions, both have policy narratives to take to the people, both seem to have political will (for better or for worse), and both have a chance of the mayorship come post-elections.
In saying all this though I have been altered after my initial Elections 2013 post, the NBR have decided to do a Q&A with candidate John Palino I think tomorrow if not then next week. Whether that is because Chris Keall was paying attention to my Twitter account and decided to pull finger or they were going to do it anyhow and the rest is coincidence I will never know. But, after their initial fumbling around it seems some aspects of the MSM are starting to do some investigative journalism and find out what the mayoral race will actually shape up to be.
I have noted the cost of running a mayoral race in Auckland. A sad thing but to be expected in this professional day and age. For me personally providing we get good candidates I am not particularly fussed. Although if I was to run for Auckland Mayor it would be a 6-year campaign and fundraising drive before having a crack…
So are the MSM still fumbling around? Yep. Will they ever get round to proper coverage? Probably in September which is then too late…
The Fourth Estate failing again – nothing new here folks 😦