The Soap Box: Who won last night's debate?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 September 2017, 8:12AM
Both have been playing to their constituencies over the past week. (Photo \ NZ Herald)
Both have been playing to their constituencies over the past week. (Photo \ NZ Herald)
Well she was beginning to choke on the stardust but going into last night's TVNZ debate there was little glitter for Jacinda Ardern who'd just learned Labour was trailing National by nine percent. So it was just plain hard slog against the man who came into politics when she was at primary school.
 
Bill English, otherwise known as the Dipton drawler, is at home down on the farm, although he's become pretty adept in a television studio which is where, Ardern with her communications degree, cut her teeth.
 
Both have been playing to their constituencies over the past week, him to farmers about Labour's nasty water tax and her to Universities where the television cameras capture her being mobbed with her free education offer.
 
But in last night's round table chat in the television studio, this time without the audience, the gloves almost came off with both landing jabs rather than haymakers.
 
They shadow boxed on Labour's plans to renegotiate the free trade agreement with Korea, with Ardern being arse about face, legislating to stop foreign house buyers and then talking about it with the Koreans afterwards. It seems to carve out houses from the agreement had never occurred to National.
 
They danced around the health issue with Ardern saying getting enough personnel was the problem, hardly surprising with a growing population, while English said things don't always go as they should when there's growing demands as technology improves along with the efficiency of drugsJab, jab.
 
But then English saw an opening, Ardern's word was her bond he reminded her, she'd call The Greens first if she has the numbers, and that'd be the Government he crowed. Well no, it's simply a phone call, it means a conservation, she said which seemed to leave him breathless.  Perhaps he doesn't realise the memorandum of understanding with The Greens ends on Saturday night and for good reason.
 
The bell sounded for round three and it was Ardern's turn, the $11.7 billion hole in Labour's books was a lie, she charged which had English on the ropes. He couldn't recover, the punch took the wind out of him, whimpering that everyone agreed there was a hole but conceding you could argue how big it was. It seems "everyone" is himself and Steven Joyce, others he said later, haven't presented a Budget so be backed himself.
 
Gesticulating, Ardern didn't raise her hand above her head, she simply flipped him a bird - or that's what it looked like.
 
English was in a hole and he just kept digging, a bit like the bloke with the Marsden Point fuel pipeline.
 
He'll be hoping the fallout on Saturday won't be as dramatic.

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