A great fun episode of Backbenches last night. Literally over a quarter of Parliament (we counted 32 MPs) was in attendance as the House has risen before 6 pm due to a lack of private members bills to debate. There was also a lot of people who had been there to see the VSM Bill (which passed yay).
The absolute most hilarious part of the night (in fact of the series) came from Hone Harawira (who was in the audience). Wallace had asked the four panelists about should there be an H in Wanganui. After the panellist had their say (and one funny answer was that the Government should agree to the decision to include the H as it is promoting literacy standards in schools and that includes correct spelling).
Anyway Wallace then asked some of those in the audience, and eventually Hone Harawira, who was standing next to Shane Jones. Hone’s response was:
Well my mate Jonesy just told me that spelling Wanganui without an H is like spelling Cunliffe without a T.
There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the place went into hysterics. I’m not sure but I think the Labour MPs may have been laughing even harder than the National MPs. I’d say it took almost a minute before Wallace could carry on with the show.
The quip about poor old David Cunliffe having a silent T is his name is not a new one. It first originated around nine years ago when he became an MP, and legend credits it to one of his colleagues. But what was unique about this situation was:
- It was the first time someone had used the quip on live nationwide television
- It was also the first time someone had used it in front of DC himself. Yes he was one of the 32 or so MPs in the pub audience
Wallace of course then went into the audience to ask DC for a comment, and he did take it all in good humour.
The genius of Hone’s comments was saying the Shane Jones had quipped it to him. Because Jones has a robust enough sense of humour that you couldn’t rule out that he might just have quipped that to Hone. As it happens Hone did admit to me that he did make it up and attributed it to Shane Jones as some “whanau love”.
As I said, it was a great fun episode with a packed pub and a quarter of Parliament there. If the Speaker had turned up, they could have probably convened a session and passed some laws! I was one of the last to leave and for my sins have lost my voice this morning!