So many issues going on in the world, it seems a shame to feel compelled to respond to Citizen Ross' effort last week. I'm not sure just why he thought it necessary to devote his whole column to telling me what a cad I am; I always thought columns were written for the readers.
But no matter. A few quick responses to points you raised then it's on to more important things.
"He has a go at Mayor Harry Duynhoven and District Council chief executive Barbara McKerrow over sharing information with councillors . . . the allegations aren't explained. It just hangs there." Ross, where have you been? This is not a new issue and my previous column was devoted solely to it. Nothing left hanging there, it's been a persistent theme.
"Gordon is influential. He has power." Merely writing columns doesn't give anyone power. To be influential the essence of what you write has to strike a chord with readers before it means anything.
"I'm not particularly interested in personalities. I try to stick to issues." Could have fooled me last week, Ross. No problem though, but do try to remember how these columns, which appear side by side, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, actually began. Editor Roy Pilott suggested it to us and made it clear a bit of good-natured "engagement" (biffo) would be a lot of fun. We even shaped up as two boxers with our fists for a photo. We both happily accepted the brief.
"Gordon's repeated reference to me as Comrade Ross." Now how did that start? The first time I used that term was in response to a letter to the editor in which you referred to me as "Herr Brown". I didn't start it. After a few weeks of writing the columns you weren't engaging, so I pretty much stopped using "Comrade Ross" and replaced it with "Citizen Ross", with a few exceptions.
Being called a "union boss". Oh, I thought that term was accurate. I am sorry though if it conjures up all these images that Ross came up with last Saturday. Ross, I have seen you at enough election campaigns to know what an excellent, robust heckler you are and you have no problem doing your best to upset the "Tories" with your robust comments, both in halls and on the street with a megaphone.
"Gordon's comments about Andrew Little having to put down roots in New Plymouth are laughable." At least you were engaging on this one Ross, before getting stuck into Jonathan Young. I made that observation as one who covered much of the 2011 campaign and thought Andrew did a very good job.
However, I felt at the time, and still do, that his reluctance to move his family up here for the months preceding the election made him look like an outsider. If he shifted them up here, his cause would be advanced, should he contest the 2014 election for the New Plymouth seat.
That's about it, mate. Anyone writing a regular column would be naive not to expect some return fire from those who disagree with your point of view. I've always accepted it goes with the territory.
Our colleague Rachel Stewart, for example, writes brilliantly, but she and I would seldom agree on many things. She gets plenty of stick and that is also to be expected. She's committed to her cause and expresses her views strongly. That's what good columnists do.
However, in New Zealand in 2013, the media has changed significantly; in that those who are perceived as "right wingers" or "rednecks" can be assured they will attract the most flak.
Labels are convenient and avoid debating the issues.
Sometimes robust language is needed to draw attention to the folly of the Those Who Know Best.
It seems their answer to every perceived injustice in society is to take more and more money off hard- working Kiwis and redistribute it to those they deem worthy of our largesse.
I remain convinced that the voice of the silent majority is being lost amid a sea of noise from those who choose to contribute little or nothing to our society, but take everything they can at every opportunity.
Sadly, even though we are giving more and more, it's never enough, and never will be.
But to keep the peace, I shall think of a new, more respectful name for the Gentleman on My Left.
Mr Henderson, EPMU organiser, it says on your business card, but I think the Gentleman on My Left has a nice ring about it. So that is what I shall call you.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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