John Key gets physical with David Cunliffe in final TV debate

Last night’s final TV debate was about as useful as a red sock in your whites washing. If you still had no idea who to vote for last night, I doubt this helped at all.

Both David Cunliffe and John Key talked over each other constantly, fighting for air time in the brief 30 minute interlude between normal programming. As a moderator, Hosking did a hopeless job, not because of any bias, but because he failed to keep the debate to a level of coherence. I lost count of the number of times all three of them at the table were speaking, nigh on shouting, at the same time.

David Cunliffe came across as incredibly smarmy, talking over John Key at every opportunity he got while begging for the right to speak without interruption when it was apparently his turn. John Key regularly scoffed at his opponent. It was hardly gentlemanly from either of them. And while the Labour leader asked for room to speak, Key’s request was accompanied by a gentle hand on the arm.

It didn’t happen once though.

At least they managed to shake hands afterwards, even if David Cunliffe couldn’t look his opponent in the eye.

It concerns me that neither of these two men seemed to respect each other, or at least the office that each of them hold. Come Saturday, one of them will be Prime Minister. Neither of them left me with a feeling of confidence after that shoddy performance.

I leave the final word to Kristen McKenzie which about summed the entire debate up:

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • K

    Yes not much of a John Campbell fan but give me Campbell any day to host a leaders debate.

    Couldn’t stand Cunliffe last night, “came across as incredibly smarmy, talking over John Key at every
    opportunity he got while begging for the right to speak without
    interruption when it was apparently his turn.” so annoying!

  • AW

    I agree K. The TV camera simply uncovers the truth. Cunliffe is patronising, smarmy and quite simply creepy on camera. He may well be none of these things but today’s elections are overwhelmingly influenced by media and Cunliffe is unelectable. Whereas Key comes across as a genuine, likeable kiwi bloke, would you have a beer with him at the barbie? Absolutely. That is why his PM ratings are so high, why Dotcom burnt his 4 million dollar investment with his tantrum when questioned by journalists on Monday. The camera uncovers the truth.

    • Hardeep

      I assume (and hope) you’re being sarcastic AW. My jolly neighbour Ned (73, borderline racist, three failed marriages, infamous party groper, terrible gossip, great wine cellar) is great company at a BBQ and popular with the whole street, but it really doesn’t mean I want him as my national leader. Same with Key. Behind that Cheshire Cat grin lies a truly disturbing record of manipulating the media, a complete lack of social conscience and cronyism at the core of his government. It beggars belief that anyone should vote National on Saturday, particularly if they want (back to Throng) the quality of TV output to improve in this country from its current pitifully low standards.

    • epistaxis

      have to agree with Hardeep, and add have u ever seen any of john keys other tv interviews/ media apperances ?? he is the poster boy for “patronising,smarmy” and for me that bit creepy !!..more the fools the rest of new Zealand who fall for that whole “he’s a good kiwi bloke lets have a beer together”…So so sad how gullable we are !! (excuse my bad spelling (-: )

      • Regan Cunliffe

        I wonder how many people are voting against someone/a party this election as opposed to for?

        • Tania

          I’d like to see voting changed so we vote for the party we like (as we do now), the candidate we like (as we do now), but then the major policies we like … and the elected Government HAS to implement those that are most voted for. For example, I like that Labour want to make doctors’ visits free for the over 65s and high users … I’d vote for that policy, but I won’t vote for Labour.

      • Tania

        If you haven’t already done so and you’re interested, read the book that was published recently about him and you will gain some insight into why he comes across like that.

        • epistaxis

          I have been holding off buying/reading “dirty politics” as I know it will just make my blood-boil at how far and false the national party really is…but hadn’t cross my mind to read john keys book guessing u have Tania, and u reckon it would give a “balanced” and insightful account of his actual persona ??

          • Tania

            I agree about “Dirty Politics” – and there’s very little credibility in publishing leaked emails (which could be forgeries for all we know) and quoting “unnamed sources”.

            If you’re interested and have time, read through these articles which give a very good (and balanced) insight into him (they’re historic, yet still relevant):




            The sense I have got from everything I’ve heard and read of him over time is that he is someone who was raised by parents who taught him the importance of being respectful of people, which would explain why people constantly compliment his relationship management skills (he is known to be as nice to a stranger on the street as he is towards someone of great importance). I sense that the cockiness and smarminess we see from time to time was developed in his career in banking – in that dog-eat-dog environment the only way you will survive IS to think and act like you’re the best.

            I think that he depends strongly on his advisors and support people, which is probably why, when questioned or challenged, he always does better when other Ministers are standing behind him.

            Mention of his constant ‘brain fade’ drives me nuts, but I honestly think it’s more down to him being unprepared to answer questions – again, relying on support people and advisors to give him the information beforehand – than anything sinister. He probably doesn’t have a great memory – some people don’t – so finds thinking on his feet difficult.

  • Tania

    I get very little out of these so-called “debates” – they ALWAYS talk over the top of each other! That’s no different to ‘The Nation’ or that other comparable show on the opposing channel though – the hosts frequently talk over their guests and interrupt them, which makes for an incredibly frustrating viewing experience. Lisa Owen and Susan Wood are the worst offenders in that regard.

  • Tania

    Colin Craig’s presss secretary has just quit: … TV news and current affairs should be interesting tonight as a result.

  • Jeseta

    I have to agree. It’s ridiculous to constantly talk over your opponent while insisting they don’t talk over you (Cunliffe) and it’s inappropriate and patronising to touch the arm of someone in this context also (Key). It’s unfortunate for the final debate to have amounted to nothing.