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Upton On line - The Big Debate

The first leaders' debate on TV3 last night proved two things:

It's impossible to get anything like a satisfactory discussion out of five people lined up in a quiz show format.

That television will always ensure that its interviewer is the real winner. We, the helpless spectators, were treated constantly to shots of the earnest inquisitor listening intently, that is when he wasn't barking and chanting questions like a professional protestor. (He was embarrassed, wasn't he, when Jim Anderton chortled that he was "absolutely right" on one occasion).

The only point on which everyone seems agreed was on the chumminess which now lubricates the Labour/Alliance axis. The road to tax increases, high government spending and government activism is well signposted should this combination get its hands on the wheel.

The low point of the evening came in the post-debate analysis when someone from the Dominion took it upon herself to critique the Prime Minister's wardrobe. That it has come to this.

(The Prime Minister, for the record, looked regal).

The panel of experts rolled their eyes at the prospect of four weeks of this if only they knew how right they were.

Campaign diary

Upton-on-line travelled to Whangarei and encountered the children of Ruakaka primary school. These kids were on to it - as quick as a flash they wanted to know how much we earned. Fortunately, National candidate Phil Heatley had not received a cracker since January. Upton-at-Ruakaka was left to face the real heat.

Much of the day was spent manoeuvring the super sharp candidate's modest but well identified car for maximum exposure.

When we arrived at Whangarei, Helen Clark's face was not to be seen on the road leading from the airport. On our return, later in the day, a large, shining sign had been erected and her smiling face beamed vacantly. Inquiries swiftly revealed that the great woman was due in town the next day. Upton-on-line was reminded of Soviet Russia when local functionaries scurried around feverishly tidying up the expected route of the leader. No doubt a view of the air-brushed hoarding will lift the morale of the Labour cavalcade in the morning.

Memories run deep about Marsden Point style industrial relations in Whangarei. We recall Pete Hodgson's claim that predictions of industrial chaos stemming from Labour's proposed changes in the area "beggar the imagination". Apparently there are a lot of people with beggared imaginations still in Whangarei. Perhaps Mr Hodgson should visit, though he'd be hard pressed to unbeggar them.

ends

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