Impressive performance from National deputy Bill English on Agenda this morning; bit of unintentional irony when English modestly described himself as a backroom boy who was just there to support his leader John Key. Er . . . so that’s why you’re facing up on the nations premier political show and he’s not? Key’s last couple of appearances on Agenda have been poor at best.
Guyon Espiner is easily the best broadcast journalist on our screens at the moment: across the issues, very smart and aggressive but not abrasive he’s come into his own since becoming TVNZ political editor. However not even he could control Helen Clark’s spin consultant par-excellence Brian Edwards who effortlessly dominated the latter third of the show and transformed it into a Labour Party political broadcast. You wonder if Clark pays him for such appearances or if he just does it for fun.
Todays panel was also pretty good, Bernard Hickey and Andrew Holden from the Christchurch Press, both of whom asked solid questions. The panel is the most inconsistent part of the show: Agenda is produced in Auckland but all the political journalists are based in Wellington so they have to rely on Auckland based freelancers a bit too much. This occasionally descends into absurdity of the ‘why doesn’t Cullen just print more money’ variety.
An interesting contrast with Agenda is the political analysis offered up in the Sunday papers: theoretically Bill Ralston and Deborah Coddington should be two of the countries most insighful opinionists, being a former TVNZ news editor and a retired MP (and also prize winning journalist) respectively.
Their articles today are a massive disappointment, as they are every Sunday. Labour are losers! National will win the election! I guess oracular insights like that are why they get paid the big bucks: thanks for the scoop guys.
Every week Agenda interviews a local dairy owner about the political issues of the day: Anthony Hubbard does something similar and, following in the tradition of Livingstone and Stanely he braves the pilates-less lower-middle class wastelands of Newlands to talk to hairdressers and tradespeople about why they’re abandoning Labour (smacking, nanny-state, time for a change). Less than edifying but at least he’s making an effort. The Herald on Sunday might want to consider getting a couple of dairy owners and bricklayers in to write their political op-ed columns; they could hardly do worse than the vacant drivel they’re currently printing.