Sometimes you just need to ask your girlfriend

by Jake Quinn

Focus group of one, my lovely girlfriend, had some interesting things to say about the Labour leadership tonight as we wandered around a few leafy blocks for our evening walk in the blaring sunshine, 30 degree heat and solid humidity.

Birds were chirping, puppies – that didn’t appear to have homes – hovered nearby with their tails only half wagging between their legs in a completely rational display of happiness and fear (ex-pats tend to pat dogs, locals not so much).

A family of mongooses ran across the street in front of us.

My girlfriend is not particularly interesting in NZ politics – she’s seemingly got bigger fish to fry.

As I tend to do from time to time, I tried to keep her abreast of developments at home.

“So, don’t ‘spose you’ve heard that David Shearer is the new Labour Party leader?”

She walked on quietly as if I hadn’t spoken.

“Honey, did you hear me?”

“Oh, yes, I was thinking of something else,” she replied absently.

“No, you weren’t listening.”

“I was f**king listing, actually.”

I flinch briefly.

“Right, good, OK. So?”

“I think it’s good.”

“Why’s that?”

“The other guy,” she says, “he’s all experienced and stuff right, that’s what you were saying the other night, I was half listening.”

“Yeh, that’s David Cunliffe,” I respond. “He wasn’t selected. I kind of backed him from the beginning but both candidates had their risks and their advantages. I wasn’t really fussed to be fair.”

Her: “Well, the thing is, I don’t actually know anything about this David Cunliffe.”

…”Other than, maybe, that he’s like a politician, or whatever.”

…”But David Shearer, I actually know something about him that I like. Wasn’t he some big UN guy in Africa or something?”

“That’s right,” I confirm. “Think he headed up UN humanitarian response in Iraq and Jerusalem, and he worked with Save the Children too, in Somalia.”

“Yeh, he’s had an interesting career, got out there in the world and done important stuff, and I, without following politics, actually remember that already. I think that matters,” she says.

Me: “I’d say you’re probably right.”

Her: “He’s just totally new, he’s not really the politician type, and that’s what Labour needs, I reckon, especially to beat John Key.”