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Clark's disciplined retreat

While upton-on-line was off-line over the long weekend the election campaign showed its first signs of true drama. The seat of Coromandel is as dry as a tinder box, waiting for a spark.

A Sunday Star-Times/UMR Insight poll shows the Green's Jeanette Fitzsimons breathing down the neck of National's sitting MP, Murray McLean. This has created something of a dilemma for Helen Clark. Is it time to tell Labour voters in the seat to give their constituency vote to Ms Fitzsimons in the hope of giving the Greens a seat (and perhaps another three or four if they poll well nationally)?

To the Sunday Star Times Clark gave a clear signal that the time had indeed come. As is often the case in these awkward situations, the local candidate (who is casually chopped off at the knees) doesn't like it. She, Margaret Hawkeswood, revised Clark's clear signal from a nod to a hint and made it clear that she wasn't going anywhere.

Today on 'Morning Report' Helen Clark twisted and turned magnificently, promulgating a wide array of messages: the local candidate is indeed the candidate, she is doing a good job, right now she has our full support, she will continue to mobilise the party vote, obviously Labour is keeping Coromandel under review, and, (saving the cruelest cut to the last), we will do what is necessary.

It is amazing what a few weeks can do in politics.

Three or four weeks ago, Helen Clark purred happily about Labour ruling alone.

For the last couple of weeks she has talked (equally confidently) of Labour and the Alliance working together, providing strong leadership.

Now, she is ready to work with anyone the cat's dragged in.

It has been a disciplined retreat.

But the cat's dragged in some pretty unusual specimens. Unemployed rights activist Sue Bradford sits at number four on the Green list, and 'Wild Green' Nandor Tanczos roosts at number five.

Upton-on-line seems to recall that Ms Bradford started her career in the Communist party, although he can't be certain. Sue's career of protest and activism started so long ago. Certainly, Ms Bradford's ideas have never been in danger of colliding with polite society.

How Helen Clark feels about all this is about as clear as mud. On TV3 last night she found common ground with Bradford in pursuit of "full employment". It reminded upton-on-line of the night, many years ago, when Lance Adams-Schneider explained his co-existence in the same caucus as Marilyn Waring with the bold assertion that both of them were 100% opposed to Communism!

Campaign diary.

Upton-on-line went organic on Friday at the launch of the ReSource Recycling Depot at Beachlands. For those not intimately acquainted with greater Auckland, Beachlands is the last enclave of sanity before the incomprehensible metastasis that still describes itself as Howick. The scheme seeks to win over the hearts, minds and refuse of all households. It is a welcome blow for garbological integrity by a small community and has been driven by the indefatigable and passionate Betsy Kettle and husband David.

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