Around 300 people packed the Ilott Theatre last night for a Meet the Candidates Meeting and it was a marvellously fun evening.
A huge segment of the audience were Labour Party activists so Marian’s applause level was so loud the only thing louder was the heckles to the other candidates – and there were some good ones.
The nine candidates, in speaking order, were:
Sue Kedgley, Greens: Typical speech – listed 30 things the Greens want to do. Solid.
Stephen Hay, Anti-Capitalist Alliance: Unintentionally hilarious as he denounced the Labour Government, capitalism and all employers etc. Quoted from the little red book
Michael Appleby, Legalise Cannabis: No matter what the question was, Michael’s answer was the same – legalise cannabis. How to solve child poverty? Legalise cannabis so poor parents can grow their own rather than have to spend food money on buying cannabis.
David Somerset, Progressives: Somerset was the star of the night for me. With no disrespect he looked liked a humourless grumpy old man, but he killed the audience with his limericks. I can’t recall the full words but something to do with Brash and cash etc.
Stephen Franks, ACT: As usual Stephen was a good performer and didn’t mind being controversial such as when he said one should not need permission from a corrupt organisation like the UN to send troops overseas. The big revelation is that not only did Stephen use to belong to Labour, he even had joined a commune and gone to China.
Fiona McKenzie, United Future: Fiona got heckled even more than Blumsky by the Labour supporters, and in fact to a degree which was highly disrespectful. At least the Blumsky heckles were generally very funny, but Fiona was just being shouted at. When you consider that United Future have actually kept Labour in power this term, it was incredibly insulting and I think reflected the contempt the average Labour activist has for United Future. Anyway Fiona did fine, and spoke more confidently than up at Vic Uni.
Mark Blumsky, National: Mark handled all the heckles with good humour. His best line was about how Labour has given us a qualifications system where chemistry professors can not pass scholarship chemistry yet students can pass scholarship geography without even turning up to a single class. Next best line was how Annette King in 1998 called waiting lists of 100,000 criminal (they are now 120,000) so George Hawkins better make his first bust and arrest her.
Marian Hobbs, Labour: With a supportive audience Marian was in good form and delivered a strong speech. She (as all the candidates) enjoyed the night a lot. After Stephen revealed he had been in a commune, Marian revealed she had also been in a commune and then had been a member of the Communist Party for many years. Her reason for leaving was that they were not practical enough!
Kane O’Connell, Alliance: A very personable enthusiastic guy who normally may have looked radical but compared to the anti-capitalist alliance seemed pretty moderate.
All candidates spoke for five minutes, then over an hour of questions (which had to be to all nine candidates) and finally two minute closings from all. Every question, bar one I think, was hostile with such gems as:
* Can you explain your policy process and what role the Business Roundtable plays in it
* Do you support sending troops to fight George W Bush’s wars
* Don Brash said blah blah on child poverty, do you agree
* Do you support stopping foreign takeover of NZ etc
Anyway was a great fun night. What politics should be about.