Loosehead Len

After his display of head slapping, Len Brown should perhaps be known as Loosehead Len – and this is one of the kinder things being said. I’ll start with Kerre Woodham:

Just when I didn’t think things could get any worse for Len Brown, he goes and does it again.

And before his fans leap up and down and say I’m part of some spooky right-wing conspiracy, I’m not.

He had my vote before the events of the last couple of weeks. Not for any particularly compelling reason. I just thought that if we had a centre-right government, it balanced things up a bit to have a centre-left mayor. …

Then came the claims of persecution and the protestations of being victimised. That was unattractive, but what really turned me off was the performance Brown gave to the Manukau City Council on Tuesday night.

When I say performance, I don’t for a minute think he was acting. Far from it. I think he believed every word when he cried out passionately that he’d risen from his hospital bed after a near-fatal heart attack for the love of the people.

That when he walked in the door, looking like a bloody skeleton, it was because he cared, not because he could put a few more cups of coffee on the mayoral credit card. I’m sure that’s true.

But emotional blackmail is hardly a rational response to requests for financial accountability. Nor is beating yourself about the head and face.

That was weird. In his soliloquy, Brown repeatedly hit himself in the face and chest, saying if people had a problem, they should come and see him.

That was enough for me.

You need somebody a little less … overwrought … as mayor of New Zealand’s first super city.

And that is from a Grey Lynn liberal who was planning to vote for Len Brown.

Next Matt McCarten. Matt is as left as you can get:

This brings me to the parallel universe of local government politics in which Labour Party-backed mayoral hopeful Len Brown has credit card problems of his own.

His use was careless at best and, as many Aucklanders don’t know much about him, his misuse will worry them. But it was his response, like Carter’s, which is more revealing.

The cutting up of his credit card on television was a cheap stunt. Was he saying he can’t be trusted with a credit card to do his job?

Well perhaps he was, as he seemed incapable of keeping proper receipts and he outright refuses to comply with his Council’s own policy to identify who was at a dinner.

His explanation on why he used his card to buy personal items was because his wife had their joint card raises more concerns. Everyone knows couples can get a card each on joint accounts.

And as they are signature cards, you can’t borrow each other’s card. That one had porkie all over it.

It’s good he apologised but his emotional presentation to his council was disturbing. His opponents can’t believe their luck and are predictably using it as evidence Brown is unstable and loose with ratepayers’ money.

But Len explained away his actions as being the Maori way to do things. Fortunately the SST has talked to some actual Maori on this claim:

But broadcaster Willie Jackson rejected that. “The spin about it being a Maori gesture is rubbish. I’ve never heard anything like it.”

Jackson said Brown’s team had made a poor decision in claiming a cultural element to the antics.

“I don’t know what the hell they were talking about, having been a Maori every day of my life,” Jackson said. “Len needs to harden up or he’s going to gift this campaign to John Banks.

“This campaign was his to lose and he’s doing a good job of that.”

Willie is also of the left. This is hardly the vast right wing conspiracy. Willie was also backing Brown over the credit card before his display at Council.

Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison said what Brown did was “more like caveman stuff”.

He said haka participants slapped their chests and thighs “to get unison with everyone and feel the rhythm”. The gesture to invite people to “come and get me” usually involved poking out the tongue.

“I don’t know what this guy was doing,” Morrison said. “This guy is on another planet.”


Auckland University Maori studies expert Dr Ranginui Walker was also unconvinced. “In the old days widows used to cut their breasts and chests when their husbands died or when warriors were slain.

“But I’ve never heard of men doing any such thing.”

Well we can at least be relieved Loosehead Len didn’t start cutting himself on live television.

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