The Dim-Post

November 5, 2011

Non-issue of the day, Cunliffe on Collins edition

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 12:12 pm

Lew disagrees with me, but I think Cunliffe’s remarks about Judith Collins are a non-issue, given the context of the interview.

The context-free version offered by DPF is that Cunliffe commented:

I have thought that if Judith Collins was the last woman on earth, the species would probably become extinct.

DPF adds:

That has to be the most disgusting personal attack by an MP on another MP in recent times. There is just simply no excuse for an MP to say that on radio. He’s insulted not just Judith, but also her husband, and in fact her children. Can you imagine having to hear the man aspiring to be our Minister of Finance say that about your mother?

Eh. They say worse things to each other in the House almost every day. Palatability to children is not what defines the limits of political speech. And you can listen to the statement in context at WhaleOil.

The full story is that Paul Henry began his interview with David Cunliffe by explaining that Henry saw Green Party leader Metiria Turei on a plane recently, and thought to himself that if the people on the plane were the last people alive on Earth, Henry would be happy to ‘breed’ with Turei. And, he assured his viewers, she would be happy to breed with him. Henry then asked Cunliffe if he wondered about the same thing, either on a plane or while sitting in the House. That’s when Cunliffe said that if Judith Collins was the last person alive the species would become extinct.

So the whole conversation was pretty stupid, but not the random misogynistic attack the National Party makes out. It’s a given that if you’re going on the Paul Henry show you’re going to be having a deeply moronic conversation. I’m not sure how many votes there are in performing in an environment in which you’re compelled to talk like an idiot.


  1. You’ve actually missed out one step Danyl; Cunliffe’s first comment to Henry when they cut to him was to ponder what the hypothetical Henry/Turei issue might look like. So he actually gave Henry the opportunity to question him along those lines.

    To his credit, Cunliffe has apologised,and admitted that he “shouldn’t have been in that conversation”; if only he’d stuck to giving Phil Goff his numbers!

    Comment by Inventory2 — November 5, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  2. Lew also has some weird belief that the media is somehow ordered by a mystical karmic Gaia. As for DPF, I assume him freely allowing comments accusing the last PM of being a femi-Nazi lesbian is not in the picture because of his typically weasel word qualifier – “by an MP on another MP” – otherwise, he should just shut the fuck up.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 5, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  3. perhaps someone – with a strong stomach – has time to list the much worse personal attacks that regularly lower the tone in Parliament?
    I am sure Farrar does not actually think this is the “most disgusting personal attack” in recent times, but it certainly is a useful diversion from Key’s dodgy maths.

    Comment by deemac — November 5, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  4. I think the context is important, but that it was still a stupid misogynistic line.

    DPFs post and the comment thread beneath it are, ironically enough, just as misogynistic. ‘Cunliffe has a silent c dontchaknow, and the real insult is to Collin’s husband who has had his manhood besmirched by the attack on his wife.

    What the fuckever.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 5, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  5. Yeah, even in context I that was cringe worthy. There’s a “another nail in the coffin” feel about nearly everything Labour’s leadership have been doing since that second debate.

    Cunliffe was good on the Nation this morning, up against Joyce. He neatly turned the scrutiny round on to the questionable aspects of National’s numbers, I was almost going to say somehting to the effect that Labour need to get more Cunliffe in the media talking economics and finances, but then I heard about his comments on Collins. Sigh.

    Comment by Steve Parkes — November 5, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  6. Good god. Does Farrar think no one can see the steaming pile of pus he now uses as a high horse?. A sewer rat donning vestments and giving pious sermons on etiquette.

    Comment by ak — November 5, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  7. Churchill anyone?

    Lady Astor: Sir, If I were your wife I’d poison your tea.

    Churchill: Madam, If I were your husband I’d drink it.

    but yes, please, walk the correct way through the revolving door guys

    Comment by sheesh — November 5, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  8. In the modern setting it is often said onscreen “Can I have a date with you? No! Not even if you were the last person on Earth!”
    But David should have given Henry a very wide berth. Bad timing.

    Comment by ianmac — November 5, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  9. I’ve been a centre-right voter for nearly 50 years.

    I’m a slow learner.

    Right now I’m disgusted with National. I’m sick of smirking John’s economic incompetence and political cowardice. Labour have come – in desperation – up with a couple of good ideas but have more than negated them with economic and fiscal policy disasters, Brash has taken ACT – who could have got us on track – to new levels of incompetence. The Greens have at least some level of integrity, but won’t get enough traction until they abandon their socialist leanings. The rest are overpaid irrelevancies.

    I despair for this country and for my grandchildren.

    Cunliffe’s stupid and offensive comment highlights the totally broken Parliamentary institution. These fools aren’t there to do what’s best for the country today, tomorrow, next year or next century. They’re there to score points, to gain photo-ops, to line up a fat pension and a couple of sinecures, and to be well paid for (in most cases) never having had a real job.

    Never mind a referendum on changing the voting method. We need a totally new democratic system. This one’s totally f****d.

    I’m 70 years old. I’ve only just woken up to the fact that the people whom I’ve assumed most of my life had a reasonable grip on economic and political reality in fact don’t and to my shamne I now realise that they NEVER HAVE.

    I’m disgusted, and I’m ashamed.

    The old cry: “I’m not gonna take it any more,” has been a little overworked, but —

    “I’m really pissed off and I’m not gonna take it any more.”

    Comment by alanvallis — November 5, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  10. Is it not time we had a neat little phrase to catogarise statements like

    “I’ve been a centre-right voter for nearly 50 years, but”
    or “we as a family have voted Labour for 75 years but”

    Godwin’s Law and Occam’s Razor cover other scenarious

    The “Scales drop from their eyes” law is not snappy enough but is my best effort
    Prize for the best

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — November 5, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  11. Sod’s Law covers the lot. Two well worn quotes come to mind:

    “Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”

    “Damn your principles, stick to your party!”

    and—from H L Mencken—my absolute favourite:

    “Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

    Comment by alanvallis — November 5, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  12. Kiwiblog, September 11 2005:
    Ask the neighbours

    The SST talks to the neighbours of the Brashes and the Clarks. Fluffy but interesting. It shows Je Lan to be the truly lovely person she is.

    That’s how proper chaps treat the ladies.

    Comment by Joe W — November 5, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  13. Pascal, are you always such a tosser?

    Comment by fil — November 5, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  14. I think this kind of comment stands out because when MPs throw personal abuse at each other they are usually careful to avoid racist, sexist or homophobic attacks. A breach of this convention is more newsworthy than the standard “you’re a dick” political exchange. The exception to the rule above is Trevor Mallard who seems to genuinely delight in using homophobic attacks on those he does not like, as shown by the ‘tinkerbell’ comments directed towards Chris Finlayson and the ‘once were rainbow warriors’ blog post attacking Chris Carter.

    Comment by Waldo — November 5, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  15. I heard the comment live. The Law of Diminishing Outrage says … So what?

    You could compile a long list of these, in fact. Cunliffe’s may be worse than most, but it’s an integral part of “Politics (sic) with Paul Henry”.

    And not just him. You can hear these matey, jokey “chats” between presenter and one or two politicians, several times a week. Examples: Shane Jones and Paula Bennett with Marcus Lush on Radio Live, Grant Robertson and Nikki Kaye with Paul Henry, etc. Plus of course Key with “Veitchy” on Radio Sport, and various other FM breakfast shows where he joins the “banter”. To say nothing of pollies trying (with mixed results) to show what fun people they are as guests on TV shows like “7 Days”.

    It’s the spirit of the age. The hosts become increasingly offensive. The guests can join in, or be party-poopers. When they cross the line, the hack attacks from the likes of DPF are as inevitable as they are insincere.

    Two default settings:

    Opponent says something ‘inappropriate’ – Fake outrage.

    Opponent accuses your own team of something ‘inappropriate’ – Assert they have no sense of humour.

    Comment by sammy — November 5, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

  16. Offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe David Farrar is inherently more offended by comments about right-wing MPs than he would be if the same comments were made about MPs from the left or centre.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 5, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  17. Two dimensions to this: principle and strategy.

    On the level of principle, is misogyny, or more specifically, one senior MP attacking another on sexualised grounds, a good or a bad thing? If it’s a bad thing then it’s irrelevant who’s done it before. If you think it’s a good thing then I expect none of you to take any sort of high moral position about improving the discourse of our politics.

    But even allowing for a certain amount of OMG THEY DO IT TOO SO ITS OK this is a fucking stupid thing to have done. There’s an election campaign on. Every moment that people are focused on sideshows like this, as opposed to the Labour party’s bid to unseat Key’s very popular government is a moment that Labour never gets back. There’s the context that matters. If you reckon Paul Henry really is an evil mastermind, you at least have to admit that he played Cunliffe like a violin, nudging him into an idiotic outburst that guarantees hardly any of the other things he has to say — that the country really needs to hear — get the attention they deserve.

    This is just an observation of how the system works, not a statement of approval. Pissing and moaning about how it’s not fair, and the same wouldn’t have happened to a Tory is irrelevant. David Cunliffe knows how the system works as well as anyone else, and he knows Henry’s prior form on this sort of topic. He’s gotten the result he ought to have expected.


    Comment by Lew — November 5, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  18. I think henry’s comments were tastless and Cunliffe’s comment was awful. Regardless of what anyone has done in the past that’s how I see this and will call it as I see it.

    I doubt there’s much chance of improving media jock behaviour but calling poor political behaviour, especially during a campaign, may encourage a better standard.

    I have seen/heard what seemed a good apology from Cunliffe, better than most political apologies.

    I don’t expect Henry to apologise, he seems to have no sense of decency.

    Comment by Pete George — November 5, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  19. Henry doesn’t need to apologise. He just got a million dollar contract with Channel Ten.

    There are less woofters and wowsers in Australia, it seems.

    Cunliffe’s crime was diverting the media for at least a day from anything remotely positive for Labour.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — November 5, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

  20. Lew, I agree that Cunliffe’s comment was crass. I was only condemning Farrar, not defending Cunliffe.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 5, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  21. Understood, Kahikatea; my response wasn’t really directed at you.


    Comment by Lew — November 5, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  22. And while Cunliffe and Co impersonate the back end of a horse:

    Trade of the week: New Zealand
    Giles Turner
    03 Nov 2011
    New Zealand, the recent host and winner of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, has booted its rivals into touch, after becoming the only MSCI developed country index still to be in the black over the past year.

    Throughout the year, global economies have been rocked by the eurozone sovereign crisis, rising US debt and a collapse in emerging market growth. But until yesterday, New Zealand and Ireland were the only MSCI developed country indices in the black.

    Since the start of the year, the MSCI New Zealand index was up 3.27% as of November 2. One day earlier, Ireland was also in the black up over 2% for the year. But Ireland soon crashed to earth, after Greek prime minister George Papandreou announced on Tuesday that his country would hold a referendum on the country’s position in the European Union.

    Ireland was down 4.06% for the year by the end of trading Wednesday.

    According to Moody’s, New Zealand’s relatively small size has protected the economy from external factors. An August credit report from the rating agency said: “New Zealand’s Aaa ratings are based on the country’s high economic strength, very high institutional and government financial strength, and low susceptibility to event risk. New Zealand’s flexible and market-oriented economic policies have supported economic performance that has become stronger and less subject to external shocks.”

    Despite the devastating earthquake in February, New Zealand posted its biggest trade surplus in history, at almost a billion dollars. Boosted by dairy products and wool over the second quarter, the price New Zealand receives for exports compared to the cost of the country’s imports is at a 37-year high, according to government data.

    New Zealand’s projected budget surplus is also set to further increase, according to a statement from finance minister Bill English.

    Analysts at Societe Generale are confident the good times will continue. In a note published on Wednesday, the bank said: “Looking forward, we still think the recovery momentum will be somewhat tentative, but employment should get a boost as quake reconstruction activities start picking up, especially in the construction sectors.”

    This week, London-based think tank Legatum Institute also placed New Zealand fourth in its prosperity index, a measurement of wealth and wellbeing. The report said: “Banking sector efficiency is good, with New Zealand [well placed] with respect to its low percentage of non-performing loans.”

    However, the premium for winning the World Cup seems rather muted. At present, the MSCI Index has been flat since captain Richie McCaw lifted the Webb Ellis trophy last month. At least this is not as bad as fellow finalists France, who are down 17.22% for the year.

    Comment by mouse — November 5, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  23. It seems to have passed most comentators by but Cunliffe’s coments, although construed as offensive by many, may well be biologically correct.

    Comment by the fox — November 5, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

  24. If you reckon Paul Henry really is an evil mastermind, you at least have to admit that he played Cunliffe like a violin, nudging him into an idiotic outburst that guarantees hardly any of the other things he has to say — that the country really needs to hear — get the attention they deserve.

    Dunno about “outburst”. It was a stupid, ill-judged and nasty thing to say, but it was more off the cuff than an outburst.

    But I agree that it is worse than the ‘non-issue’ Danyl calls it. As I said, Cunliffe did very well in debate with Joyce this morning on The Nation. Because of the ‘show me the money’ debacle he would have started on the back foot, but he kept his cool and eventually reversed the scrutiny being applied to Labour’s accounting. Also, he really had Joyce on the ropes with questions about how to prevent “mum and dad” investors selling their assets to foreign investors. (Joyce was seriously floundering, and if it the situation and format had been different it could have been another ‘show me the money’ exchange but at National’s expense.)

    But when 3 News referred to the Nation interview in prime time telly tonight, did they mention or show any of this? Nope. It was purely to refer to Cunliffe’s remarks about Collins and his subsequent apology.

    Comment by Steve Parkes — November 6, 2011 @ 12:19 am

  25. Labour hit the panic button again; you’d be picking the Greens to be in opposition this year.

    Comment by will — November 6, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  26. You’d think, with Key’s example of “celebrities I’d like to fuck” to learn from, that Cunliffe wouldn’t be drawn into blokey arsehole “banter” with Paul Henry about which female politicians you’d fuck if there were limited other choices. How hard can it be to figure out that when Paul Henry offers the information that he’d give Metiria Turei one if he was desperate enough, your job at that point is to shut him down, not start adding to the stupid, ugly shit being spouted? And this from a former diplomat?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 6, 2011 @ 6:50 am

  27. @will: “Labour hit the panic button again; you’d be picking the Greens to be in opposition this year.”

    If you were, you could go over to ipredict and make a lot of money. If you really were, of course. Which you’re not.

    Comment by Grassed Up — November 6, 2011 @ 7:39 am

  28. @Grassed Up: Thankyou for your prompt reply. After some consideration we have decided that your skills and experiences are not quite aligned with our requirements. All the best for your future endeavours.

    PS: In opposition means not in Government.

    Comment by will — November 6, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  29. Paul Henry is Australia’s gain. Why do we drum out of town anyone who is mildy amusing in their job. Cunliffe responded in kind. It was amusing and, you are right, it was a non issue.
    BTW I am not a labour supporter and had no intention of voting for Cunliffe.

    Comment by Bob — November 6, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  30. Oh joy! Oh joy! Ring the church bells! Paul Henry is fucking off for his non-Hollywood consolation prize! I give him nine months before he does something that gets himself sacked.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 6, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  31. I give him nine months before he does something that gets himself sacked.

    Only if he were to majorly offend Lachlan Murdoch and his family’s interests.
    Apart from his natural-born motormouth skills, Henry has the consummate suckhole’s instinct to preach from the pulpit of his patron’s rectum.

    Comment by Joe W — November 6, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  32. Why do we drum out of town anyone who is mildy amusing in their job.


    I don’t know, probably because there’s a wide swathe of people in New Zealand who are horrendously offended by them, and because just being “mildly amusing” doesn’t give you the right to insult a member of government from the largest Commonwealth nation, or claim that the Governor-General isn’t a Kiwi because “he doesn’t sound like one”, or to insult the guests on your show, or just to generally be a mouthy little shitbag bully mouthing off for all the other little shitbag bullies.

    Mind you, with bullying being endemic in New Zealand, and with the loud-mouthed bullies now allowed out of the playground and the workplace by means of their anonymity on the internet, it’s small wonder that there’s a groundswell of support for a cowardly, mean little cunt like Paul Henry. After all, he’s “just like them”. But it’s not the first time that a truly awful person has been given a position well outside of his apparent worth, and it won’t be the last. Not that it’s shocking that he’s gone to Ten, either: the home of low-rent, low-quality, low-production value reality shows of very little value and very little worth that operate on the more is more revenue principle, and that end up nothing more than pathetic, slow vehicles for the next generation of reality “stars”.

    They’re welcome to him. At least I won’t have to hear about the prick again. Not even if I move to Australia after National get back in, because he won’t last more than one pathetic season. Aussie viewers don’t want to see a mouthy Kiwi bully on their TV screens any more than the majority of Kiwis do. Talkback Radio? The fucking pinnacle.

    Comment by Dizzy — November 6, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  33. Been into the angry pills this morning Dizzy?

    Comment by will — November 6, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  34. Re 7, another ‘quote’ attributed to Astor, Churchiill

    Lady Astor: Winston you are drunk
    Churchill:- “I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

    Comment by adamsmith1922 — November 6, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  35. Considering he is a married man with children himself, I thought his comments quite nasty and sexist.
    I don”t know the guy, but from what I’ve seen and heard so far, he won’t be getting my vote, now, or ever.

    Comment by Helena S — November 6, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  36. Cunliffe on Morning Report this morning: I have no quibble with what he said, but his tone was condescending and smug. How anyone can see him as a future leader (or Shane Jones, for that matter) is beyond me.

    Comment by MeToo — November 7, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  37. Cunliffe on Morning Report this morning: I have no quibble with what he said, but his tone was condescending and smug. How anyone can see him as a future leader (or Shane Jones, for that matter) is beyond me.

    Probably because there are no other options.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 7, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  38. Dammit – who the hell, is Paul Henry? Sounds like a good season not to move to Australia after all. How about Greece? Italy perhaps? – after the great defaults, of course – should be able to pick up a villa (or two) for a song and never have to worry about fuckwits like Henry ever again.

    Comment by thawed-out — November 7, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  39. What Cunliffe said about Collins was inane and a non-issue, but at the same time, what goes around comes around.

    The wider issue is that some politicians see the need to go downmarket in order to pander to the mythical Waitakere Man. I’ve said it before, but Howard Dean squandered his innovations in online campaigning, by pandering to Joe Six-pack and his Ol’ Dixie-draped pickup truck.

    Could it also be that ‘bad taste’ is the Left’s answer to the Right’s ‘anti-PC’? Grant Gillon managed to pull it off in 2000 with his Tory sheep joke in Parliament.

    Comment by DeepRed — November 7, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  40. If I had a time machine…

    As Cunliffe should have said of Metiria Turei to Henry, “What makes you think she’d want to ‘breed’ with you, you unasked-for justification for post-natal abortion?”, or, “Is the perpetuation of the human race so important that it has to have you as a father when cockroaches could do so well, and by the way, African Grey Parrots look quite promising?”, or simply, “Christ, you really are a pathetic dick, aren’t you?”

    Comment by Rhinocrates — November 7, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  41. Sad but true. She has very little charisma and her career has ruined her looks, bestowing upon her a sour mouth which has caused her to appear as a human caricature of a lemon.

    Comment by Betty — November 8, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  42. Even if that were true, and I don’t agree that it is, what’s the relevance? These people deserve censure for incompetence and lack of political integrity but not for their beauty or lack thereof.

    You’re in danger of becoming as small-minded and offensive as the pre-adolescent Mr Henry.

    They who are without sin…

    Comment by Alan — November 8, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  43. Howard Dean squandered his innovations in online campaigning, by pandering to Joe Six-pack and his Ol’ Dixie-draped pickup truck.

    Howard Dean squandered his chance in the Dem Primaries by acting like AN MENTAL PERSON on stage, in front of the whole world.

    Pandering to demographics is exactly the most efficient way to simultaneously win the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, and stroll to a presidential nomination.

    As Cunliffe should have said

    I think the winning (or, more accurately, least losing) strategy would have been where Cunliffe jokes that Collins wouldn’t want to breed with him. With the right delivery, it might even have been charming.

    Comment by Phil — November 8, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  44. @43

    What is this “charming” of which you speak? Is it related with “tact”? I am afraid I am not familiar with such human concepts.

    (And yes)

    Comment by Rhinocrates — November 8, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  45. Been allowed back eh Rhinoboy?

    Comment by will — November 8, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

  46. No, they don’t deserve censure for incompetence and lack of political integrity either.

    Comment by Betty — November 10, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  47. I mean, let’s attack them on all fronts. That’s what they’re there for, isn’t it? If they didn’t backdate all their pay increases, I probably wouldn’t be so eager to do so, but since they do …

    It’s not all that serious. It’s not like she was deformed from birth and he’s making fum of her for something she can’t change. When you start looking like a lemon, it’s time to get out of politics.

    Having said that, though, she is one of the few who seems to genuinely believe in the National Party’s policies.

    Comment by Betty — November 10, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

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