The Soap Box: National takes aim at Ardern during campaign launch

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 28 August 2017, 5:57AM
As the applause finally died down, he stood and sipped from a glass of water, leaving his audience unsure whether they'd heard the last from him. (Photo \ Getty Images)
As the applause finally died down, he stood and sipped from a glass of water, leaving his audience unsure whether they'd heard the last from him. (Photo \ Getty Images)

Bill English had a couple of dad moments in his hyped up campaign launch in Auckland.

Unlike Labour a week earlier in the crammed to overflowing Auckland Town Hall, National opted for an enormous auditorium out west where the crowd of 2500 disciples came to hear the good word according to Bill.

They cheered and stamped as MC actor Shane Cortese appeared to revel about the outrageous fortune that had befallen him, appearing before so many. Can't see his co-actor, avowed National opponent Robyn Malcolm sharing his enthusiasm, still he was National's answer to singer/songwriter Don McGlashan who turned out for Labour.

The political warm-ups came from Nicky Kaye, the woman who twice beat Jacinda Ardern in the electorate race for Auckland Central who rather snippily told the congregation that National isn't just one person, they're a team led by a rock. Her theme was continued by the bubbling Westie Paula Bennett who also had a swipe at her Labour sister saying there's more to National than selfies and smiles - clearly John Key's out of sight and out of mind!

As a Maori teenage mum Bennett remembered how she was seen by Labour, as a victim, as a poor uneducated waif, the sort of person who could make a trade union delegate or perhaps a team leader while under National she'd been made the Deputy Prime Minister.

They became hysterical, ready for the march through the masses and up to the stage by their leader, who'd by the time he reached the podium swallowed the dad lump in his throat, having heard his daughter Maria sing the National anthem, showing Bill a thing or two about voice projection.

And at one point he seemed to have to remind himself of where he was, opening after a burst of applause with the words he's expected to use in Parliament's debating chamber, "Mr Speaker." He did recover well enough though, telling the masses Speaker David Carter was in the front row, and a distraction as always.

The rabbit he pulled out of the election hat isn't going to be a Helen Clark interest-free-student-loans-moment even if it was also an education sweetener with the main trust, teaching foreign languages to primary school kids. The concept's good but the delivery seems somewhat vague. But at least it was a policy, which escaped Labour at its launch.

So they're now up and running, although that seemed to escape Bill English as he wrapped up extracting chants from his audience about what they didn't want but were going to get with Labour. As the applause finally died down, he stood and sipped from a glass of water, leaving his audience unsure whether they'd heard the last from him.

They had, although there'll be plenty more from where that came from over the next four weeks.

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