BackBenches Auckland Election special & TV3 Leaders debate review



Fascinating time at the Auckland election special of BackBenches this year. I was at the filming in 2011 and it was a very different beast. I remember in 2011 a sea of blue. Team Key acolytes were everywhere, there was a pride and an energy. It was a rude awakening that 2011 would be a crushing victory for National.

Compare that to last nights filming and it was incredible how small a presence for National was there. I am hearing from many door knockers that the contempt for National from National supporters and everyone else disgusted by what Nicky Hager has revealed in Dirty Politics is genuinely hurting Key right now. The lack of people wanting to be openly identified in Central Auckland as ‘Team Key’ was very interesting.

Paula Bennett did her best to sound relevant, but the tax cut has been seen as sick joke by most. Metiria was brilliant as per usual, oh to wake in a country where she is Deputy PM and Russell is Finance Minister. Tracey Martin reminded us all that she’s the only NZ First MP with any actual talent, Laila was a pocket battleship who won the debate hands down. David Parker was his usual calm self which didn’t really work for the bear pit of BackBenches, but he did have the funniest quips and come backs and there was a sizeable Labour presence on hand. Jamie Whyte decided that ACT hated Maui Dolphins and wanted to leave them to the free market, which generated the loudest boos of the night.

But then again Jamie managed to generate boos every time he lifted his head.

The lack of visible National support should alarm Party strategists. It makes me think Jacinda has a shot at winning back the electorate.


The Leaders Debate on TV3 was excellent. John Campbell was the winner followed by Cunliffe because David had an actual vision for NZ, unlike Key who seemed to have all the vision of a blind cyclops. Key’s constant attempt to scare monger over minimum  wage has to be seen to be believed.

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When Key says transitioning people from welfare into work he’s really saying dumping people off benefits into cold homes with empty fridges.  It is an obscenity that Key wants to blow $500m on tax cuts when it costs $100m to feed every hungry kid in every poor school. Key’s mantra was  ‘At the end of the day it’s about mums and dads’.

At least Key seemed sober in this debate.

Cunliffe went to the mountain for children in poverty and that moment of passion was difficult to top.

It’s 9 days till the election.





  1. I honestly thought Key was just a bully, and kept taking over all debates and hogging the whole time allotted for each Candidate to speak.

    David Cunliffe remained calm through it all with great patience while motor mouth Key just barrelled on regardless looking and sounding arrogant and desperate to keep talking that John Campbell had no way to close Key down from taking over most of the debating time.

    They should have had a time limit on each candidate but Key wouldn’t be able to keep to any rules other than his own it seems.

    A shabby debate that will only put more voters off which is probably what Key wants anyway.

    Martyn we certainly hope the voters see key for what he is, a bully that wants to rule by force, a dangerous combination in our very fragile democracy.

    • Key looked dead eyed, distracted , mean and defeated!…bugger the polls!…

      David Cunliffe had passion,was light and had a vision for the future New Zealand for New Zealanders …….bugger the msm!

      David Cunliffe is getting into his stride after an unprecedented “Dirty Politics” attack on him by John Key and his PR crap merchants . A Labour led coalition is going to WIN this Election….everyone must be encouraged to VOTE!

    • fast talking and saying as much as possible with the rehearsed lines does seem to be the technique Gnats are adopted. Amy Adams did the same at our local candidates meeting the other night, though she was very slick and polished, but so fake

  2. Yes, John Campbell was an excellent moderator last night. Objective and firm and fair, allowing both leaders to have their say.

    David Cunliffe was focused on the policies which will improve the lives of NZers and fresh plans Labour intended to progress NZ. He also had the figures to support Labour’s new ideas.

    FJK had nothing to add to his previous debates. He kept saying National had “plans” for an exciting future, but was short on the content which would make this happen! Given Bill English’s poor performance on The Nation recently, unable to offer up new plans for NZ and now FJK, it seems National is really stuck in the bog and stagnating at a rapid rate of knots!

    Looking forward to a strong focused Labour/Greens government, with possibly a coalition with Internet Mana and maybe NZ First.

    As to be expected, today’s NZH is full of promoting Key, with little reference to Labour’s objectives and aims to take NZ ahead!

  3. Hmmm, I thought it was a near-draw. Cunliffe scored points – but Key was able to hold his own.

    Minor criticism; passion is good, but there’s a risk of looking over-earnest (Cunliffe, not Key).

    I hope Team Cunliffe is reviewing the video from last night and working on some of Cunliffe’s delivery.

    Much like a replay of the 2011 election Leaders’ Debates; Cunliffe won the first debate; Key had the Press Debate in Christchurch; and a close tie (marginally for Cunliffe – but that might be more my own bias) between the two men last night.

  4. Is the “BackBenches Auckland Election special” posted online anywhere?
    PrimeTV website does not seem to have it on demand and their youtube channel does not have it uploaded yet.

  5. Back Benches was excellent viewing – a mixture of good-humoured fun and thoughtful comments from the panel. Laila was terrific. There’s something about her that makes everyone stop and listen when she speaks. Good to see Mr M.B. at the back of the audience. 🙂

  6. “Cunliffe went to the mountain for children in poverty and that moment of passion was difficult to top.”

    Yeah! Bring on September 20th!
    Lets look after our poor and hungry and homeless for a change.
    Lets get the former non-voters to the polling booths.

    FJK be gone!!!!


  7. There is a common expression: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with b.s. That sums up John Key entirely on this debate. He burbled on nonsensically about mythical and hypothetical situations where he supposed that a higher minimum wage would stop businesses from employing anyone, despite John Campbell telling him more than once that he was talking rubbish and his own Treasury had told him he was talking rubbish. John Key’s mantra in this election is that if he says it is so, then it is so and whoever disagrees with him is just an ignorant fool. The man is so out of touch with what is really happening in his own country that I almost feel sorry for him.

  8. Aaaawww , come on , Martyn , …’ were on the cusp of an exciting future’…. we get to have a tax cut ( maybe ) in 2017 of a WHOPPING $10.00 per week !!!

    Cant ask for more than that , can we?

    I wonder if he meant corrupt National politicians are on ‘the cusp of an exciting future ‘ ?….still , I cant see how staring at four walls for 23 hours of the day can be called exciting… maybe I didn’t hear it quite right…

    There is no depression in New Zealand …There is no sheep on our farms….

    Culture?…I’ll give ya culture!

    The futures so bright…Ive got to wear shades..

  9. jonky’s done all the coke so his shallow mates are leaving the party .

    Encouraging stuff .

    I wonder if jonky-stien is about to run for it ? Head for the hills before the 15th ?
    @ seagull ” Key looked dead eyed, distracted , mean and defeated! ”

    Would that be the look of a con man just before the angry hoards arrived with pitchforks , tar and feathers ?

  10. Interestingly at the only public Meet the Candidates forum in Botany, a “safe Blue seat” held by the Slater aligned Jami-Lee Ross was one where no visible National party supporters appeared. Jami was so threatened that he ducked and ran for cover as soon as he was challenged during his robotic delivery of memes. Jami left the building immediately after the forum to twitter how unfair it was that there were no supporters there for him. Wonder why??

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