Andrew Gunn: A diplomacy masterclass for Gerry Brownlee
SATIRE: Knock knock, Leader, you wanted to see me?
Gidday Gerry, have a seat. I'm just uploading this Instagram photo of me making the kids' school lunches.
What's in them?
Well, I had done these luncheon sausage and tomato sauce sandwiches.
But my social media manager says that won't focus-group well with digitally-native urban millennials in key marginals. So we swapped 'em for quinoa in wholemeal wraps.
Give me a break. Who gives a fig?
Well, digitally-native urban millennials for a start. They're big on figs. Luncheon sausage not so much. Processed meat, unsustainable, blah blah blah.
Bunch of wusses. You can't say anything these days. You have to be sooo careful.
Yeah well that's what I want to talk to you about.
Is this about me calling thingamebob a clapped-out old dunger?
Wait, what? Who? Did you?
Did I? Er… no?
Look, Gerry, you're the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Everything you say has to be thought through very carefully, and then thought through again. Before you say it.
See, you're doing it now!
This is about Israel isn't it?.
Well, yes, but look we don't need to rehash the whole "Murray McCully and his UN resolution against illegal Israeli settlements" thing again.
You mean how he dropped us in a steaming pile of –
Gerry! The point is, I know you had a go at fixing it.
You mean when you said I was "having difficulty finding the right language"? Thanks a bunch, Bill. I've got ten-year-old boxer shorts that offer more support than that.
The point is, I have now actually fixed it and I want to tell you how I did it. How I did it, Gerry, is by not mentioning the actual issue at all, and instead just telling Israel we're really sorry about the damage done to our relationship.
The damage being done by them when they threw their toys out of the cot?
Gerry! Enough with the facts!
But just to be clear, that's what we're saying sorry for, not the UN resolution.
Hey, enough with the "just to be clear". Clarity's the last thing we need. But yes. We're just generally sorry, and placid and nice. And as a result, now we're best mates with Israel again and I don't have to pick up the phone and get another earful from Netanyahu. So here's your lesson for today: When in doubt, be vague.
And that works every time?
It did for John for eight and a half years.
My brain hurts.
All you need to do is smile and wave and come out with the occasional inane statement. Ask yourself, what would Paula do?
What would Paula do?
Precisely. And if you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Are we clear?
Good. Now where did those luncheon sandwiches go?
I'm saying nothing.