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Posted by Philip on 22 November 2011, 10:08 am in , , , ,

Schoolboy politics

Last night's TV3 Campbell Live leaders debate between John Key and Phil Goff was yet another display of adolescent bravado, reminiscent of a high school debate. The moot: That I am better than you.

School bully Key, smug about getting A's in accounting and used to winning, openly sulked when Goff, not as natually gifted at the subject, showed that he'd knuckled down and done his homework. Key sulked and scowled openly when Goff unexpectedly rebuffed his right-wing economic arguments.

Goff, the nerdy guy that hangs out with the girls because he gets teased by the boys for having feelings, smirked when he realised he'd remembered the stuff right. I imagine he went off set to giggle in delight with his girlfriends at his accidental cleverness.

Key probably called him a poof under his breath.

Throughout John Campbell stood on watching, the slightly hesitant headmaster, willing to let the boys tussle it out — except when he silenced them sternly in order to go to a break. Time for interval.

Afterwards, in the staffroom, Campbell appraised the boys' debating skills with his senior team. Naïve politics teacher Duncan Garner chummed it up with ex-nerd and now self-obssessed media teacher Paul Henry, who was kicked out of his last school for inappropriate conduct. Henry chimed in irrelevantly on his first day in a new job.

Luckily political science teacher and deputy principal Therese Arseneau, unphased by being the only woman, chiefly ignored her junior colleagues to have a well-informed conversation with her boss.

I hope she asked him why he stooped so low as to hire Henry.

Is this the kind of political framework to which we aspire? Certainly I don't. Political leadership, and the the media's portrayal of it, needs to grow up. This kind of competitive, arrogant, polarising leadership is way past its 'Use By' date.

The current global climate calls for collaborative leadership, not the strong, bullheaded, autocratic grandstanding we are used to and which seems to be escalating. We desperately need a seachange to leadership qualities such as generosity, creativity and authenticity must being espoused by this and other nation's leaders.

If they were, we'd see a National/Labour coalition formed after this weekend's elections. But of course, going by last night's adolescent antics, this is as likely to happen as I am to vote for either party.