MPs ea­ger to get votes stitched up

As a gen­eral elec­tion looms, politi­cians take a break from kiss­ing ba­bies to find new ways of win­ning your vote, writes Jono Galuszka.

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - June 25, 2017 Former Labour can­di­date Josie Pa­gani

Elec­tions will al­most al­ways bring con­tro­versy, bick­er­ing and that orange man in­ter­rupt­ing your favourite soap opera.

But one tra­di­tion is guar­an­teed – politi­cians will do nearly any­thing to win your vote.

New Zealand politi­cians have a long his­tory of odd­ball ac­tiv­i­ties on the cam­paign trail, in­clud­ing former prime min­is­ter Sir John Key der­p­ing with univer­sity stu­dents in 2014.

An­other former Na­tional Party leader, Don Brash, was pic­tured walk­ing the plank from boat to wharf dur­ing the 2005 cam­paign. The party lost that elec­tion, and Brash was thrown over­board by his party mem­bers.

This week, Green Party co-leader Me­tiria Turei used a cam­paign visit to Palmer­ston North to hold a ‘‘knit-in’’ at a lo­cal cafe.

The avid knit­ter has also been known to show off her ukulele skills on the cam­paign trail.

She said it was all about her­self.

‘‘The first rule of pol­i­tics, be­yond not telling lies, is that you need to au­then­ti­cally be you.

‘‘The whole point of rep­re­sen­ta­tive pol­i­tics is that there’s peo­ple like me, as well as peo­ple talk­ing in long words and wear­ing re­ally flash clothes.’’

She felt politi­cians had to be care­ful about cul­ti­vat­ing a cult of per­son­al­ity.

‘‘We are seen as be­ing flash in pol­i­tics, but we are also or­di­nary peo­ple who get em­bar­rassed.’’

ACT leader David Sey­mour ar­guably of­fered up the weird­est moment of the 2014 cam­paign – an ex­tremely awk­ward video of him­self, shot around Ep­som.

It ended up clock­ing more than 40,000 views on YouTube, was par­o­died by stu­dent me­dia, and got him price­less air­time.

The video was never sup­posed to be awk­ward – Sey­mour was sim­ply try­ing to be him­self.

‘‘Ev­ery day peo­ple are get­ting on with their lives out­side of the belt­way and they saw a guy giv­ing it a good Kiwi try,’’ he said.

One of his plans for this elec­tion is much more old-school – his sec­ond book.

Politi­cians such as Sir Rob Mul­doon wrote mul­ti­ple books while in of­fice but the prac­tice has largely died out.

Sey­mour said ACT politi­cians had a long record of pub­li­ca­tion. be­ing I think peo­ple re­spond if you are pre­pared to get out there. ‘‘Ev­ery move­ment scrip­ture.’’

While Turei is go­ing for the party vote and Sey­mour had a free ride into the Ep­som seat, Josie Pa­gani had to do ev­ery­thing she could to stand out when run­ning for Labour in the Na­tional Party strong­hold of Ran­gi­tikei in the 2011 elec­tion.

She took to rid­ing into towns on horse­back with a mega­phone in hand, be­fore hold­ing street cor­ner meet­ings.

There were awk­ward mo­ments, such as be­ing up­staged by a bolt­ing race­horse, and a dif­fer­ent horse de­cid­ing to ‘‘flood the needs a holy street’’ with meet­ing.

Now a po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and pub­lic af­fairs con­sul­tant, she said her cam­paign tac­tic was about gain­ing at­ten­tion which she could then use to spread the Labour mes­sage.

Cam­paign­ers in Europe had told her politi­cians should talk di­rectly to vot­ers.

She of­fered Jeremy Cor­byn, the UK Labour leader who nearly over­threw the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment de­spite be­ing writ­ten off by pun­dits, as an ex­am­ple.

‘‘He got out­side and did some­thing pretty old-fash­ioned but ef­fec­tive – ral­lies and street cor­ner meet­ings – with the risk of peo­ple turn­ing up and throw­ing things at him.

‘‘I think peo­ple re­spond if you are pre­pared to get out there.

‘‘Peo­ple re­spond to the gim­micky stuff, like pineap­ple on pizza or plank­ing, but if you do too much of it it’s not nat­u­ral.’’ urine dur­ing a cor­ner


Green Party co-leader Me­tiria Turei, left, joins Anne Spring at a "knit-in" Turei held while cam­paign­ing in Palmer­ston North.

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