by Don Franks
Labour Party leader Andrew Little is advertising for a new chief press secretary to head his party’s media and communications strategy.
A nice well paid office job here for somebody, but there’s a catch. The successful applicant is expected to ensure Little appears “in a positive story on the 6pm news at least twice a week”.
At first glance that might seem a tough assignment.
Most TV news is about disaster and the positive stuff rarely involves parliamentary politics.
At the best of times parliamentary politics is unattractive, and these are not Labour’s best of times.
Andrew Little leads a parliamentary party which wants to become the government without worrying any business interests. That means making no substantial promises to ecologists, low-paid workers, welfare beneficiaries, low decile schools, depressed rural regions, public hospitals or gang members. Getting close to a majority of the population.
That’s the difficulty of the job, but there is some upside.
Talking to TV3, Andrew Little only ruled out offering the position to extreme right blogger Cameron Slater, who would not have wanted it anyway. The point is, Labour’s new chief press secretary will not be tightly bound to political principle.
The new Labour pressman or woman just needs their boss to somehow be in two positive TV stories a week.
The “positive” bit is easy. A positive TV story means celebrities, sentimentality or gimmicky fluff.
The “in” requirement is not hard either. It just means “in’, somewhere.
Andrew doesn’t have to be the cause of anything positive here. He doesn’t even have to be a central figure in the story. Just unmistakably there, like those kids who wave and pull faces behind the TV journalist reporting from Eden Park stadium.
So there’s the first story – a leering lurch into shot behind Brendon McCullum would do Andrew no harm at all, as long as McCullum holds his form until the next election.
But that’s only one positive story, half a week’s worth. Could two positive weekly TV blips be sustained over time?
With some imagination, I believe they could.
Andrew Little among a small crowd watching firefighters rescue a cat from a tree, Andrew commenting to camera, “These guys are doing a great job.”
Andrew Little offering to donate a kidney.
Andrew trying to refloat a beached whale.
Andrew giving Lydia Ko a lift to the golf course when her cab goes to the wrong address.
Andrew queuing outside a Lorde gig ( and not attempting to dance inside).
Andrew in an old folks’ home sharing birthday cake with a hundred-year-old unionist batoned by Massey’s cossacks.
Andrew at the police college trying the weight of a new baton design.
Well, there’s a few weeks worth. Just another ninety odd stories like that and the chief press secretary has done their job for the year.
No doubt about it, capitalism has made some things easier. Back in the Dark Ages winning political leaders had to be expert with a sword and battleaxe.
These days they just need wrapping like cakes of soap.