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Short And Sweet: Shipley Vs Clark - Both Lose

Leaders Debater - Ref. Paul Holmes - TV1 7pm to 8pm - SCOOP TV REVIEW

The 1999 election campaign has been criticised for being passionless.

Tonight, with four days to go, a much promoted - mano-a-mano - Shipley vs Clark TV special was the centerpiece of the campaign for both major parties on state TV's leading serious channel Television One.

If ambivalence described the atmosphere in the campaign before the leaders debate. The adjective to characterise it now is tedious. The leaders did not exactly ignight the TV screen and spoke almost exclusively in sloganese.

Perhaps there has been too much preparation today. A dull end to another dull day on the campaign.

ACC, ECA, jobs, cannabis, taxes, West Coast, campaign tactics - same old same old issues are discussed. Points are made - but none seem to stick. In general it is all too nice. No nasty put-downs. No fire and brim-stone from Shipley and nothing to tug the heart strings from Clark. In short nothing - almost no drama. TV2 and TV3 will be rating well this hour.

Much of the discussion consisted of , "I know you know that's not true Helen.", followed hotly by, "I know you know that's not true Jenny."

Both party leaders looked distinctly uncomfortable and neither could be said to have got the upper hand.

Highlights from the hour long debate - and the centerpiece to the day on the campaign for both leaders - were few and far between.

Scoop's highlight for what it's worth - paraphrased.

Q: Have you smoked dope Jenny?
A: No. certainly not.
Q: And you Helen? have you inhaled?
A: Do you want to take the campaign to that level? I lived in the sixties I would have to admit seeing the stuff.



Closing statements were clear, if a little wooden, again paraphrased.

Helen Clark - My message to middle New Zealand. I need string support to lead a strong government for change. I want to reward hard working familes.

Jenny Shipley - National is building a successful future. I am thankful to the people for that. Some are talking about change but why would we think about change when we are performing 4th best in OECD. I want to work with NZ. Think about change. Why change a successful formula.

Apologies from the ref: The PM has been struggling with the flu.

Verdict: They both lost.

To finish Paul Holmes puts in a plug for the "don't complain if you don't vote" campaign. Based on tonight's performance we have every reason to complain. One of these two will definitely be the next Prime Minister.

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