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Reflecting on a funny old week

Opinion Piece

It has been a funny old week in Parliament, but not funny to some, as the Greens misfired with an attack ad on social media aimed at National Party leader Simon Bridges.

The ad showed Bridges walking through a car yard and included a much exaggerated imitation of his distinct voice pattern.

Almost immediately, and to their great credit, Greens supporters were quick to go online saying this was against the ethos of their party. After initially defending it, party leadership took it down.

In fairness, there was a point to the ad which was intended to criticise Bridges and National for their lack of action on climate change and in particular to the legislation intended to promote electric vehicles. But the prevailing response showed it was a case of, in sporting terminology, playing the man rather than the ball.

It will be interesting, though, how much parties facing a tough election will be tempted to turn more to the attack ad as a weapon. These kinds of ads, often deliberately misleading, have long been an ugly part of election campaigns in the US.

The most successful use of this kind of ad was the “dancing Cossacks” one used by National in 1975.

The party engaged the cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera to produce the ad which claimed Labour’s compulsory superannuation scheme would turn the country into a communist state.

It worked, Robert Muldoon swept into power with a landslide victory.

As Arkwright of television’s Open All Hours would say, “it has been a funny kind of week” in other ways.

Russell Crowe marked the engagement and 21st birthday of Bindi Irwin with the gift of a $25,000 solid gold watch. What will her wedding present be?

Christchurch City Council reached a new high for local government by paying its new chief executive Dawn Baxendale $495,000, roughly the same as the Prime Minister.

And England, who just over a week ago on the same ground won a thrilling world cup cricket final against New Zealand were bowled out by Ireland for 85. What next?