When Bill English takes his kids to the local ice cream parlour you can bet he orders vanilla.
Not that there's anything wrong with vanilla. It's the most popular flavour of ice cream. It's inoffensive, safe, a little bit bland, and quite hard to define. A lot like the Minister of Finance's 2013 Budget.
For there were no ''deep dark secrets'' in this year's affair. It wasn't a Black Budget or even a grey one. It wasn't the Mother of All Budgets or even its long-lost cousin twice removed.
A good way of judging the success or failure of Budgets is to check opposition reaction to them. David Shearer delivered an eloquent speech in Parliament but it was only tangentially related to English's Budget. Shearer spent more time on the Sky City convention centre deal than he did on what English had or hadn't announced.
Russel Norman found himself lecturing English on fiscal rectitude, reminding the finance minister that ''you can't borrow your way to prosperity'', which I found a little ironic coming from the Green Party.
It certainly didn't end with a bang. And not with a whimper, either. Not really. More sob than soliloquy, when the fat lady sang for Aaron Gilmore we all hoped the song would be a short one.
And it was, fortunately. Gilmore's four minutes and 57 seconds would have to go down as one of the shortest farewells ever delivered in the New Zealand Parliament.
While MPs are usually expected to wind up in 15 or 20 minutes, some go for more than half an hour, and convention has it they can pretty much talk till they run out of breath.
That wasn't Gilmore's problem. He just didn't have that much to say.
By the time he'd apologised again for his behaviour at the Hanmer Springs Heritage Hotel, reflected briefly on his two weeks from hell, and had a departing crack at the media, it was time to bid a tearful farewell.
All right, so National MP Aaron Gilmore is a dickhead - I think we're all agreed on that now. Even Gilmore himself seems pretty sure about that, even if he can't remember much else about his night on the turps in Hanmer.
But there are a few Wellingtonians who'd argue he's not the only dickhead in the National Party caucus right now. Because it seems there's been an outbreak of Foot In Mouth disease within the party.
John Key's suggestion that the nation's capital city is on life support "and we don't know how to turn it around'' might not be quite as dumb as Gilmore's ''don't you know who I am?'' but given the respective importance of Key and Gilmore it's not far off.
Key probably didn't need to give Wellingtonians any more reasons not to tick National next year, given the swathe his Government has cut through the public service in the past few years.
But even a born-again Aucklander like Key must realise that Wellingtonians are a fiercely parochial bunch who don't take too kindly to their city being maligned, particularly by the prime minister.
In politics, there are two golden rules all MPs must follow when they have behaved like complete and utter prats.
The first is to apologise. Not a qualified apology - you know, "I apologise if I caused offence,'' or a Clayton's apology, where you attempt to bring others into your circle of shame - "I guess we got a little boisterous'' - but a full, no-holds-barred, unreserved, fling yourself-on-the-mercy-of-voters mea culpa.
If you want a reference point for such an apology, check out Labour MP Shane Jones' mea culpa after he was caught out using a taxpayer-funded credit card to watch porn in his hotel room:
"This is a day of great shame,'' Jones said in 2010. "Not only have I embarrassed myself, my family, and party colleagues, but I have got into a pattern of expenditure that is inexcusable. It's beyond excuse and it's a day of humiliation for me.''
The second golden rule is that, no matter how minor or egregious the offence, no matter how trifling or embarrassing, never, ever, ever involve the prime minister's office. Ever. Even if you think it was actually the prime minister's fault.
Has Labour actually gone insane? As in stark, raving, Monster Loony Party mad?
I'm assuming the answer is yes, judging by today's incredulity-creating announcement that, if elected next year, Labour will essentially nationalise the electricity industry.
The Opposition says it's going to create a single buyer, NZ Power, that will buy all the country's electricity generation "at a fair price'' and then onsell it to consumers.
It'll pretty much give away a 300KW bloc to every household and then charge for additional units.
At a stroke, Labour is proposing to dismantle the electricity market, ruin Contact Energy and Mighty River Power and decimate the Government's share float plans for both MRP and Meridian.
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