An interesting contrast

February 7th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Good to see the media are backpedalling on the Waitangi Pub crawl in London story and giving more balance such as the Police actually praising the event and its organisers.

In the latest story at Stuff, they have comments from both John Key and Phil Goff. And if I was a lecturer in political communications, I would get my students to analyse this story. I think it is a good insight into how the way you say things can impact how you are perceived.

First what Goff said:

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said nobody minded people having a good time but vomiting and defecating in public didn’t do much for New Zealand’s reputation in Europe.

“I’ve no problem if they’re crazy enough to take their shirts off and do a haka in the middle of the snow in London in February, fine.

“But I know that when I was living in London and you saw people on the tube that were vomiting and urinating you took offence at that.”

People at home wouldn’t like it is a group of English people behaved similarly here, he said. 

“By all means go have a good time but when it comes to behaving offensively in a public place, it’s not on for people to be damaging our reputation by behaving in our way.”

Goff comes across as automatically accepting there was really bad behaviour, twice goes on about vomiting, defecating and urinating and says we wouldn’t like people doing it here. Overall comes over as a bit of a killjoy.

Prime Minister John Key said he was not surprised New Zealanders in London took part in a rowdy Waitangi Day pub crawl, saying “celebrating is part of what they do” in the British capital.

“On one level it’s great people all over the world are celebrating Waitangi Day. We would hope they would not get out of control.”

Reports of bad behaviour should not be “over-egged”, he said.

“New Zealanders are well known for having a pretty good time when they are out in London. I’d encourage them to have good behaviour where they can.

Key admitted he too celebrated Waitangi Day when he lived in London by “having a couple of beers”.

“I kept my shirt on though.”

While in one sense Key and Goff are saying the same thing (have fun but do not go overboard), Key comes over far more positive (and dare I say it relaxed) and less killjoyish.

Now you might say who cares. But how the public perceive politicians does impact how they vote. They like politicians whom they can relate to, and whom they are “normal”.

The most powerful political image of last year, was (ironically) shown the day after the election, of John Key in bare feet outside his front door picking up the pizzas, as they wait for results. It was on the front page of one of the Sunday papers, and was an incredibly powerful image. It said four things to people:

  • The Prime Minister relaxes in shorts and bare feet at home – just like most Kiwis do. Not in a suit.
  • The Prime Minister orders pizza, just like many families do
  • The PM actually goes out and pays/signs for it himself rather than sending someone else out
  • Despite it being the day which might evict him from office, he is relaxing at home with his kids, eating pizza

Of course such stuff is not the only thing that impacts politics. Policies and performance do also. But the contrast between how Goff and Key came across, despite trying to say the same thing I thought was a good lesson in communications – how to do it, and how not to do it.

Waitangi Day Pub Crawl in London

February 7th, 2012 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

Kate Newton at Stuff reports:

A urinating Waitangi Day mob of “drunk Kiwis wreaking alcohol-fuelled havoc on the streets of London” has sparked a complaint to the New Zealand High Commission.

Not sure what they can do about it.

It’s a rite of passage for thousands of young Kiwis on their great OE. But this year’s annual Waitangi Day London pub crawl has sparked derision and disgust.

Kiwi Dylan Clements says up to 1500 drunken New Zealanders took to the streets on Saturday in a shameful display of debauchery.

He has filed a complaint with New Zealand High Commissioner Derek Leask, saying their antics brought “great shame” on New Zealand.

Mr Clements, 28, said he watched participants urinating and vomiting on famous religious landmarks, including Westminster Abbey and the historic Jewel Tower, and exposing themselves indecently on the street.

Others sculled alcohol on the Tube, intimidated Londoners and assaulted Korean tourists with snowballs during the marathon boozing session.

But kiwis who attended the annual event say everyone was in good spirits, generally well behaved and respectful of police and other Londoners.

The Waitangi Day pub crawl is a fun tradition. However vomiting on Westminster Abbey is a no no, as is exposing yourself. If they occurred, they sounds like isolated incidents. You can take part in a pub crawl, get very merry, but still not be so “wasted” that you do such stupid stuff.

On a website set up to promote the pub crawl, Clint Heine said he met police before the event and they were present on the day to keep an eye on things.

He said he had received feedback from police saying there had been a “few minor hiccups” with litter and public urination, but it was expected.

Yesterday, on the pub crawl’s Facebook page, participants said police had told them they were a “well-behaved bunch”.

It sounds like Mr Clements may be over-egging things.

Krystle Field said it was the first time she had truly celebrated Waitangi Day and was proud to take part.

“At home it is such a negative day full of politics, protesting and drama and is just seen as another public holiday to many. In London it makes us all patriotic and we celebrate by dressing up in kiwiana costumes,” the 26-year-old said.

Well said.

It is interesting that Mr Clements was complaining about the pub crawl on Facebook, even before it had happened.

The media have all reported this as a major story, based on one person’s complaint. What is interesting is that the UK media (you know where it actually occurred) have run no negative stories at all on it. So the Police had no problem with it. The local media have only had good stories on it. Is the fact one person complains, meritorious of massive headlines in NZ?

Some photos from the pub crawl are here and here. Some great costumes. Even more here.