City's honour 'at stake' in debate

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 09/07/2014

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With the election looming, Iain Lees-Galloway will get some debating practice this Friday against a man who calls himself the "best debater in New Zealand".

The Labour MP and veteran entertainer Gary McCormick are each leading teams in The Great Debate at The Globe Theatre on Friday night, with the reputation of Palmerston North on the line.

McCormick is warning Friday night will be a "gloves off affair" . . . "It will be ugly; there will be blood on the floor."

He said Lees-Galloway's experience in Parliament's debating chamber would not help his cause.

"Going up against people like Peter Dunne doesn't really count," he said.

Lees-Galloway acknowledged Friday night's debate would be different from he was used to but he was looking forward to it. "We're going to be looking at the lighter side of Palmerston North and probably having a joke at each other's expense."

McCormick says he's always enjoyed visiting Palmerston North despite the years he battled against the now scuppered departure tax at Palmerston North Airport.

The teams, rounded out by city councillor Rachel Bowen, academic Dr Richard Shaw, thespian Ken Benn and Tribune editor Richard Mays, will debate the moot "Mt Cleese - a high point for Palmy?".

The topic refers to the infamous comment by comedian John Cleese in 2006, that a trip to Palmerston North would be enough to encourage people to commit suicide.

In response, the city council renamed a hill at Palmerston North's landfill Mt Cleese.

The team defending Palmerston North's honour may want to remember the words of another British visitor, Jeremy Clarkson.

The Top Gear presenter said in 2012 that if God had got it right, "Jesus would have been from Palmerston North".

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- Manawatu Standard

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