Saturday, November 8, 2008

Key's first mistake

Last election I was appalled by the sight of Don Brash's grinning face surrounded by a posse of Diplomatic Protection Squad members as he entered the National party function to make his concession speech. I'm amazed that we saw a rerun of this disastrous image tonight. It spoke volumes at the last election that we saw Helen Clark's protection staff only in so far as they were required to help her parents into a car, and in tonight's efforts to protect Clark the DPS was similarly circumspect.

This is not an easy issue. I have heard that those who were charged with protecting Clark sometimes felt that she asked them to stand off at considerable risk to her person. They did not see this just as a risk to her but also as a risk to them and their reputations.

However, I don't believe that the New Zealand public wants to see its Prime Minister designate separated from the press or from the party faithful by the kind of linked arm squadron we saw tonight. This is an appalling look for the leader of any democratic country and should not be countenanced by the Prime Minister designate of New Zealand. Key should get up the courage to a put a stop to this sort of image.

I wonder whether the choice of venue has contributed to this situation. National Party organisers should select election night venues with a view to allowing the DPS to protect its leader while keeping out sight of the TV cameras.

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