From the Bottom Up
In the deep, dark hills of Western Southland
That's the place where I trace my bloodline
And it's there that I saw, written on a hillside gravestone
You'll never leave Ohai alive.
Stop strumming the banjo, get off your rocking chair and look at me.
Does anyone remember when Invercargill was a swing seat?
I haven't been here long but it feels like it was twenty or more years ago Labour was a power in this city.
Except it wasn't.
Eric Roy only won the seat in 2005. And Labour took 45 per cent of the party vote in that one.
So the results last November – Eric back with a 6000+ majority, Labour down on 29 per cent – are actually an anomally.
For someone who grew up in Britain in the 1990s Tories and sleaze go hand in hand. Your earliest political memories could well be Tony Blair, then a vibrant opposition leader with youthful looks, castigating John Major as the latest misdeed leaked to the tabloids.
They were all up to something, it seemed. Sex, drugs, bribes, even perjury and perverting the course of justice.
For Nick Smith (right) to be forced into resignation hardly rates highly on the list of misdemenours when compared to that, but it shows the low tolerance New Zealand has for political scandal.
It's hard not to feel a bit sorry for Smith, whose permanently red face hides a very capable minister.
Less than a week ago he was poised to launch wide-ranging reforms of the local government system – the kind that might have ended up being called Smithocracy or The Smith Reforms of the Tens.
If David Shearer really wanted to stamp his mark on Labour he should have got rid of the likes of Trevor Mallard the moment he took over as leader.
Mallard is an embarrasment. It's hard to imagine why he rose to the level of influence he has enjoyed under Clark, Goff and now, presumably, Shearer.
No-one will shed tears for Trevor Mallard.
The moment Shearer won the ballot he should have sat down with the likes of Mallard, Annette King, Maryan Street, Parekura Horomia and Phil Goff and said "thanks, guys, but no thanks''.
The whole lot of them should have been banished to the backbenches, told they would not be selected for the next election, and phased out over the next year with retirements and sinecures.
The contrast between the parties could barely have been more defined.
The Nats were sitting around an open fire in the venerable Invercargill Club, surrounded by black-and-white photographs and plush carpet.
Labour met in the dingy confines of the Jed St Trades Hall with cask wine and savories on hand, clustered around a projector as the results came in.
The Greens had themselves a barbecue at Dave Kennedy's leafy Gladstone home, chatting away like it was a housewarming.
It was they who had the most to celebrate. Both Kennedy and his Clutha-Southland colleague Rachael Goldsmith rode the Green wave to the party's best-ever southern results.
Blog terms and conditions
You're welcome to post in the comments section of our blogs. Please keep comments under 400 words. When submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.