The Herald interviews David Lewis, ex-press secretary to Helen Clark and current press sec for Len Brown and wonders if he is as amazing at his job as Malcolm Tucker, the terrifying spin doctor from The Thick of It. Which is something you hear a bit around political circles: ‘He’s a real Malcolm Tucker’, said of various powerful staffers, and its always annoyed me because one of the running gags of The Thick of It is that Malcolm Tucker is terrible at his job. The plot of almost every episode involves Tucker bullying and screaming at Ministers and their staff, which causes them to do something stupid which turns into a public relations catastrophe for the government. It’s a bit weird that people in politics might watch that show, see Tucker screaming and swearing himself into disaster after disaster and think he’s someone to be emulated. Most successful press secretaries seem to work by building relationships. Lewis does seem to have done a fine job advising Brown through his sex-scandal, although outwitting John Palino, Luigi Wewege and the Slaters doesn’t seem like a very high bar to clear.
Anyway, also related to the Len Brown scandal is this article on Stuff:
Employment relations experts have weighed in on the Len Brown case, with some saying if he was employed as a chief executive on one of New Zealand’s major listed companies he would be fired.
Susan Hornsby-Geluk, partner at Dundas Street Employment Law said there would be a “strong likelihood” that Brown would be asked to stand down by the board of directors if the same behaviour occurred in a private company, more so if he led a public department.
It’s unlikely Brown would be fired if he was a CEO, relationships between executives and staff being a routine feature of corporate life. But certainly in the case of some equivalent-sized scandal his board would have offered him a huge sum of money to step down, and he’d probably have taken it. Likewise, if Brown was a Minister he’d have offered his resignation as a Minister and he’d be spending a year or so on the back bench before being reinstated. If the scandal was a little bit worse he might even resign as an MP for the good of his party. The point being that in any of those scenarios the person stepping down gets something: either some money or their old job back, or even just the goodwill of the party for doing the right thing. If Brown steps down from the mayoralty he gets nothing. Instead he just hands a huge political victory to his enemies. And the other huge difference between CEOs, Ministers and Mayors is that you can simply replace a CEO or a Minister. The new Mayor only happens through another election, and the public really don’t seem to want to go there.