Earlier today, Labour leader David Cunliffe took a swipe at John Key over the royal visit, suggesting the prime minister was milking the extra “face time” with Prince William and his wife, compared with his own limited meetings.
Oh dear. This is not a good look.
Labour seem to have had an obsession with the Royal Tour (which frankly I find a bore). They first invented a convention that you never have a royal tour in election year. After I pointed out there had been around five ro six previous royal tours in election years, they changed this to be no royal tour within six months of an election, but again there had been royal tours (when Labour were in power) much close to an election than this.
So first they invented conventions, and now they’re complaining they are not getting enough invites to hang out with the royals.
He also described a possible visit to the White House as “pre-election PR from the prime minister ” who was “stage managing the calendar of the year as it suits him”.
Umm, the NZ Prime Minister doesn’t decide the timing of an invite to the White House. In fact such invites are very very hard to get. If the PM is getting an invite, it is because President Obama likes and rates him.
A diplomat made an interesting observation to me a few weeks ago. He said that the national leader who has spent the most time in the last year with the President of the United States would be the NZ Prime Minister. He also said that the national leader who has spent the most time with the President of China would be the NZ Prime Minister. Now it is pretty extraordinary for any NZ PM to be the leader either super-power President has spent the most time with. But to be have had the most face time with both the US and Chinese Presidents – I’d say unprecedented for almost any national leader, let alone a minnow like New Zealand.
Cunliffe said it was very important that the treatment of the royal visit was as even-handed as possible between the government and the opposition, and also that the visit was well-spaced from the election.
Of course the Prime Minister is going to have more time with overseas dignitaries than the Opposition Leader.
Asked why Key had so many events with the royals Cunliffe said, “I guess he likes the camera time.”
Key said that he would not be at the “vast, overwhelming” number of events on the royal visit schedule and did not believe he was milking the event.
“I don’t actually think anyone’s going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we’re seen standing next to the royals when they’re in New Zealand,” Key said.
“They vote on the economy, law and order, health and education. As soon as David Cunliffe starts talking about that and not this sort of rubbish, he might do a little bit better.”
That’s actually sound advice. Whining that you have not had enough time with Price William is just not an attractive look – even if you honestly feel slighted.
At his one-on-one meeting with the prince, Cunliffe expected to discuss those issues the visitor wanted to raise. He would also be happy to brief him on things Labour thought were important such as building a fairer and more decent country and including everybody in the opportunities.
“I’m sure that he would agree with that.”
He would also talk about the deeper economic issues, such as the problems with the balance of payments.
Labour’s going to talk about the Balance of Payments with Prince William. Hell I may be a republican, but that’s just a step too far – cruel and unusual punishment!