I just returned from what is always THE candidates' meeting for Wellington Central every election - the Aro Valley one. The heartland of socialist, ecologist, leftie Wellington. As usual it was a full house, and almost all of the candidates turned up, plus Morrie Love appeared for the Maori Party.
Plenty of humour in the responses from candidates.
As was to be expected, Mark Blumsky, the National candidate got a hard time from the leftie audience, but managed the heckling well. Frankly it wasn't a great performance, even with the crowd (and there would've been a good 20% or so who were sympathetic), he could've been wittier and quicker in attacking the government, and defending tax cuts - but he didn't really shine. Maybe he needs more practice and gets rattled with an audience of a lot of heckling, but this wasn't where he'll get votes in Wellington. His second choice for party vote was United Future (but then he was Party President!)
Marion Hobbs as encumbent Labour MP had a reasonably sympathetic audience. Last election she was heckled largely because of GE - and she vigorously defended her record as an electorate MP, because she was successful convincing the government to fund local schools etc. - in other words we have a system of whoever shouts the loudest gets your loot. She conceded defeat on the Inner City Bypass (a roading project close to Aro Valley that the locals oppose and is now under construction), but defended Labour's record and public servants - which a lot of people weren't keen on! Marian's second choice was the Greens and Sue Kedgeley.
Sue Kedgeley as Green candidate always gets a rousing response here, though she confused locals by saying she opposed voluntary euthanasia. She trotted out her usual, more of other people's money for pet socialist projects. Her second choice was Marian Hobbs and Labour!
Of the others, Stephen Franks from ACT seemed more liberal than ever - advocated getting the state out of marriage altogether! He supported voluntary euthanasia, and quipped when someone said what he'd do when he was unemployed after the election "The capitalists will look after me"! His second party choice was National, but candidate was Bernard Darnton from Libertarianz! Maybe there is hope yet.
Funny money from Coralie Leyland, the elderly face of Social Credit, who got heckled with "print more money". She does need to go home and knit and stop finding foreign banking conspiracies. She wasn't the local candidate though, I guess there is only one straight-jacket in the party.
Kane O'Connell from the Alliance went on about socialism, and was cheered when he said it was good that Jim Anderton left and formed his own party. At least he was honest saying they had no help in hell of getting into Parliament, and his second choice was the Greens and the Anti-Capitalist Alliance candidate Stephen Hay.
David Somerset from the Progressives, whose best moment had to be that we should turn our back on the dinosaurs from the past, when someone heckled "like Jim!". He confused the audience when he had liberal views on social issues that bear little relationship to Anderton's.
God help us with Fiona McKenzie from United Future Outdoor Party (UFO party was a quick reference) she was passionate about a party that believes in nothing much really, and she couldn't bear to state her position on abortion - as it probably wouldn't have been in agreement with most of the audience.
Michael Appleby always amuses initially with his legalise cannabis to save everything policy, and something does appeal about a party that would do nothing once it was legalised (presumably they would sit around on Parliamentary salaries and get stoned), though you have to wonder why he bothers - ALCP didn't even get its act together to apply for broadcasting funding.
A good response was received by Bernard Darnton - Libertarianz Leader, especially when he said the Public Works Act would go, so compulsory land purchases for roads would end. He also declared Libertarianz would abolish the Marriage Act and Misuse of Drugs Act, which played well to the liberal leftie audience (though privatising everything else doesn't). He unashamedly defended capitalism, very small government and when the question was asked - What will you do for your electorate in Parliament - he honestly said that Wellington Central would do very badly under Libertarianz, as so many public servants would be out of work, but all the other electorates would thrive! Go Bernard!
Stephen Hay from the Anti-Capitalist Alliance had his own small following, though he could hardly reconcile communism - which he believed in - with letting people do what they want. I guess 100 million killed from the 20 or so communist regimes in the 20th century isn't enough. Sadly he has refused to debate Bernard Darnton one on one, in a contest I mentioned in an earlier post proposed by Gman. Damned shame really, be nice to see freedom vs. Marxism-Leninism debated.
All in all a great evening out, a wonderful chance to heckle and hear some bloody quick witted remarks from an audience that was not QUITE as leftwing as at previous elections.
Aro Valley will almost certainly vote Greens, Labour, Alliance in that order, and I'm not kidding, I'd expect National to come third at best in THAT booth, but I still think Hobbs has a tight race with Mark Blumsky.
Other write ups:
BZP with photos;
David Farrar, and links to more from those
Gman photos of it;
Luke's photos of Bernard Darnton and the crowd
and Kakariki and Keith Ng's reports of the meeting and after incident!