Thursday, 28 August 2014

The First Leaders' Debate: Cunliffe Shows His Quality.

Epic Struggle: Tonight New Zealanders were privileged to witness a truly outstanding encounter between two highly effective politicians. Leaving aside its ridiculous "poll", TVNZ is to be congratulated for screening one of the best leaders' debates in decades.

WHAT A BLOODY SHAME. For 59 minutes TVNZ had hosted one of the best leaders' debates in decades. In spite of many Labour supporters reservations, Mike Hosking chaired the encounter with consummate professionalism. He made sure the debate was free-flowing, allowing both leaders ample opportunity to demonstrate both their command of the relevant facts and their skill at turning those facts to their own and their party's advantage.

But then, in the final minute of the show, TVNZ broadcast the results of a meaningless "poll" of self-selecting respondents purporting to show that John Key had "won" the debate by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent. Rather than simply allowing New Zealanders to argue among themselves in the best democratic tradition about which man had been the more impressive, the state broadcaster could not forebear from settling the question for them. Immensely satisfying if you were a National Party supporter, utterly infuriating if you were backing Labour.

Because there is absolutely no disputing the fact that David Cunliffe acquitted himself superbly in tonight's debate. He was disarmingly courteous and generous in his interactions with the Prime Minister, but frankly, he could afford to be. Of the two politicians he was easily the more fluent and the more persuasive. Where the Prime Minister aggressively asserted, David Cunliffe calmly and good-humouredly presented the evidence. And, when the moment came for a knockout blow, the Leader of the Opposition was not found wanting.

The "killer punch" came in the discussion about selling New Zealand farmland to foreigners. Responding to Hosking's challenge about no New Zealanders being willing to pay the $70 million Shanghai Pengxin was willing to offer for Lochinver Station, David Cunliffe simply invited the Chairman to "roll the logic forward" and in a bravura demonstration of his economic skills set forth the blunt facts about how such a market would inevitably and permanently bar New Zealanders from ever being able to afford to purchase their own land. Even John Key felt obliged to congratulate his opponent on his spectacular rhetorical performance.

For those not blinded by tribal political loyalties, this was the moment when Cunliffe "won" the debate. Economics and business have always been the Prime Minister's preferred battle-ground. But, even here, in the area of John Key's greatest expertise, David Cunliffe bettered him. For all those New Zealanders who have yet to make up their minds, that extraordinary exchange should be their "Aha!" moment. John Key is a highly accomplished politician and a fine debater, but tonight he met his match. Tonight, for the first time since he became National's leader, John Key lost.

If I were to score the debate out of 100 I would give 60 points to David Cunliffe and 40 points to John Key.

Will that be the judgement of punditry in general? We shall have to wait and see. TVNZ, however, with its meaningless "poll", clearly intends to tell New Zealand that John Key was the victor. As citizens with minds of our own, and as viewers who had just witnessed a truly outstanding encounter between two highly effective politicians, we deserved better than to see the public broadcaster needlessly undermine an otherwise splendid event.

This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you don't like it when the public shows their preference?

Clearly you are in the 39%.

Southern said...

You were watching a different debate to me obvously. Cunliffe was an interjecting fool found wanting on policy detail eg housing policy numbers. I would doubt he gained any votes tonight and instead simply confirmed many peoples low opinion of him already.

Chris Trotter said...

The public will show their true preference on 20 September.

To use a text-in "poll" was absurd. At 75 cents per text which social class do you reckon would be favoured by the text option? The free option - TVNZ's website - crashed. Once again, who do you think benefitted most from that little mishap?

And, if you're so easily impressed by such meaningless polls, why not check out Newstalk-ZB's - which gave the debate to Cunliffe 64/36.

Debbie Sullivan said...

and speaking of polls, after seeing the latest Reid TV3 poll results Im beginning to wonder if all these polls are deeply flawed...are Kiwis really such a willfully ignorant lot that National can INCREASE after the events of the past couple of weeks?

NotGandalf said...

Sorry Chris, which social class do you think you are speaking for? Are you now implying that TVNZ crashed their own website just so they wouldnt have to publish unfavorable stats? If that were the case why wouldn't they just publish fake stats and make them available to the public to satisfy the very agenda you seem just short of accusing them of? Just wondering...and regarding the TV3 polls which (admittedly arent polling on tonights debate specifically) claiming Cunliffe has a clear lead. I might add that from what I have seen tonight on the TV3 website, Dailyblog, and now your blog, that objectivity has been thrown out the window in favour of more spin than Warney at the SCG (not saying that Whaleoil is any saint either but its the only blog that I have seen that seems less spin friendly IMO). Following your logic on the perception of only publishing favorable material, I wonder if these blogs will still be around after the election for the inevitable 'told you so' or whether they will be taken down by their authors before any post election discussions can take place.

peter petterson said...

I would absolutely agree with you Chris.David Cunliffe won this debate despite being the more inexperienced of the two debaters. Key said he was right in keeping Judith Collins.

But with a real leader, the buck stops with him - key is a buck passer.

Kat said...

Media-Pop excuse for a leaders debate on TVNZ....with Micky 'Do you like my hair' Hosking helping Key answer Cunliffes questions.

Sean Plunket reads Hager, watches All The Presidents Men and now calls for an inquiry.......

The Herald gives the debate to Cunliffe 3/1....that's Fran O'Sullivan, John Armstrong, Toby Manhire vs Audrey 'my bro is a National MP' Young......

ZB NewsTalk gives debate overwhelmingly to Cunliffe....funny that!

Winston pulls the pin on Collins over on TV3....Paddy Gower is wetting himself with glee.....

Got to be the most entertaining day of the election yet.....

Brendon Harre said...

Definitely something odd about the 69 to 31 percent 'win' to Key. Not how I saw it.

Putting that to one side there are many ways to interpret the result.

One -it is flawed because the TV1 website crashed -so we don't really know.

Two -the result can be interpreted as a kind of preferred PM poll and therefor shows Cunliffe is preferred by 31% now compared to 10% last week. In that case the momentum is all with Cunliffe and game on....

Brendon Harre said...

The NZ Herald's 'Big Buzz' also gave the debate to Cunliffe. With 14000 people making 2.6million votes (185 each) of agree or disagree during the course of the debate.

Check it out here http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11315818

Anonymous said...

Cunliffe clearly won hands down shame on TV one for injecting there bias via a completely irrelevant non scientific loaded text poll Web can easily be recovered they should publish the results before the crash if they don't Cleary it's highly suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with you Chris. Cunliffe won that debate and the meaningless poll at the end just confirms to me that TVNZ manipulate public opinion. Other results tonight put Cunliffe ahead. Check out NZ Herald news: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11315759

Charles W Etherington said...

Cunliff gave the impression of being a nice enough guy, like Key but he probably is not since those close to him in politics, who have to sit round a table with him do not like him, we are told. Whereas Key was his usual self, liked by his colleagues & clearly preferred by more than half the country. He will win the election but I hope he then does two things. First is sack Collins and second announce he will retire after two years.
It's an old truth that political careers mostly end in failure, mostly because they don't gracefully depart when they should.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Eminently predictable. National supporters think Key won labour supporters think Cunliffe won – but as somebody put it this morning – the only people that really count of the undecideds :-).

Flipnz said...

I think it was a poorly moderated debate. There were times when all three were talking and it was just noise. The talk over of 'not true' used frequently is annoying and had the debate been properly moderated unnecessary.
The polls should be banned when they are poorly designed and misleading. It is unprofessional to have them crash. To much money going to Hosking who really is not that flash in-spite of what he and his groupies think. Not enough resources spent on the workers to provide a decent service.

Jigsaw said...

Debbie Sullivan-you obviously think the public are 'fools' when they differ from you, well maybe, but you said that National could be out of office for a decade on the basis of a single poll. It depends on who you talk to and you are obviously talking to the left who think that anyone with a different point of view are ignorant. When did Hager's books ever have any influence on the eventual outcome?

Anonymous said...

YOU FAT FUCKING FAGGOT KKKRIS, DID YOU REALLY THINK WE WERE GONNA LET YOU POOFS ROLL US? NAH MATE, YOURE GONNA GET ALL THE SODOMY YOU CAN HANDLE IN THE GULAG, AND THEN SOME!

alwyn said...

I watched the debate with a friend who is a pretty standard voter, not a political tragic like most of those who contribute to these blogs.
She was interested in both the candidates, and their policies. For the first 10 minutes she said she was impressed with Cunliffe. After that she simply got more and more irritated with his continual interjections and his determination to talk straight over the top of John Key when he was trying to speak. We lasted about half an hour before she had, in her words, had a gutsful of Cunliffe's behaviour, and we gave up watching.
That is one person who is certainly not going to vote Labour, and I suspect it may be a common feeling with average voters.
Luckily I had put it on to record so I could watch the rest later. I am not so easily put off.
Incidentally I thought DC was let of rather easily when he claimed to have spoken to someone who had had no wage increases since the last Labour Government and had worked the last 6 years on the minimum wage. Any one like that has had, of course, a pay increase in every one of those years.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Alwyn.

The only truly tragic individuals in this commentary thread is the splenetic hater whose comment I have included - just this once - to remind Bowalley Road's readers of the sort of right-wing extremists with whom they share the franchise, and a (young?) woman whose commitment to democratic participation is so slight she could not endure even an hour of robust political debate.

Oh, and maybe you, too, Alwyn, for believing that such a person could be a guide to anything remotely important to our embattled democracy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

One could add Chris that someone who bases their vote on a leaders debate rather than on a reading of the policy, even if they are the average New Zealand voter, is not a good voter. These leaders debates are meaningless, and are part of the slide into personality politics we seem to have inherited from the Americans. While it's okay for the personality of a politician to annoy you, you shouldn't base your vote on it.
As for the shouting guy, he sounds like somebody from the oily whale blog. Where this sort of thing is tolerated as long as it agrees with the oily whale :-). And everything else is heavily moderated.

alwyn said...

I asked her whether you considered herself to be "young" Chris.
Her answer is that, given that she is older than you, the answer had to be, regrettably, no.
On the other hand she said that being her age meant that she still remembered when people were polite and allowed others to finish what they were saying.
She also added that her vote was just as valuable as your own or even, given she counts as an occasionally swinging voter, possibly more so to anyone wanting to form a Government.

ps. I strongly object to being classed as in any way similar to the capital letter spouting "anonymous" you have included.

Debbie Sullivan said...

Jigsaw...thought I was part of "the public", but that aside think your linking of the two comments attempts to overly simplify...the comment that the Nats could be out of power for a decade was made on the point that this government could end as did Nixons...still a distinct possibility.The lament of the poll result was not a statement on the intelligence of those continuing to support National (if the poll is accurate) but a statement on a sociological behaviour....one very much on display in Germany between the wars.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victor said...

I've just seen TVNZ's 6.00 pm attempt at damage control.

Once again, it's acting as the broadcasting wing of the National Party.

If you haven't already seen it, this thread from the Herald tells a different story:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11315661

I agree with Chris, 60-40 is about it. But Key is more of a "natural".

manfred said...

John Key came across more confident in that debate. Bloody Mike Hosking moderated it unfairly.

I don't why you reckon Hosking was even-handed, Chris.

He was arguing against Cunliffe yet was all ears to Key.

One thing that really grabbed me was Labours awesome idea of pepper-potting those 100,00 houses around New Zealand and having them architecturally well designed.

That one policy is a total winner.

As for that bloody right wing jackal making threats against you, what a scumbag.

These are the dogs the National party have always lay down with.

Charles W Etherington said...

Ouch. Chris Alwyn nailed you there.
You one day put up scholarly pieces that defy gravity but why then another day write such specious crap like here.
Cunliff is a oaf, and clearly putting off 75 % of NZ. You may dismiss them but that's just silly.
Key is Mr average plus but that's the point cobber. He is like us! A real Kiwi you'd like to have a day out with enjoying this fine country. He deserves to win, one last time and he will I reckon.

Anonymous said...

pft with this 60:40 split. MOre importantly is what percent of the public were even aware this was happening. And what percentage actually could be bothered to watch.


Not me.

Nor any of my son or his first time voter friends.

Chris Trotter said...

Wow, Anonymous, we're all deeply impressed by you and your son's and your son's friends' commitment to democracy and responsible citizenship.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"being her age meant that she still remembered when people were polite and allowed others to finish what they were saying."

I'm older than both of you, and I can barely remember it. In fact I remember sometime in the late sixties early seventies, a discussion on Palestine having to be abandoned because (mainly the pro-Israel) person kept interrupting and talking over the other one. So whoever it is has a fairly rose tinted pair of spectacles I suspect.

jh said...

The whole debate was a disgrace as the issues are far too complex for the format????

cricket? said...

John Key was at 6s and 7s and playing catch up and in light of further political developments obviously had a lot of publicly undisclosed pressure on his mind which shows that National is in trouble and in the debate failed to be convincing about anything really .