Sunday, September 14, 2014

Showing reality

During this election, the only political things I’ve posted to this blog have been official campaign graphics or photos from the campaign. The only exceptions to that were illustrations to show what I was talking about. I made a deliberate choice to stay focused and not to adopt the negative partisan attacks of our opponents. But today, I needed to make an exception, since a little truth-telling was needed.

Late this morning, I happened to have Twitter up when the National Party Tweeted a photo of their visit to Glenfield Mall. “Fantastic welcome at Glenfield Mall this morning with plenty of support for NZNationalParty from locals”, they said, along with a photo. The day before, I’d seen lots of people Tweeting photos of David Cunliffe and Labour’s visit to the same mall, and it was obvious to me that National’s superlatives were a bit misplaced. So, I made and posted the photo above, Tweeting, simply, “Compare and contrast: Campaigns visit Glenfield Mall.”

The photos were exactly as shared—no cropping or manipulation—and I made no comment beyond adding the date of the visit and the weather conditions at the time. I felt people could draw their own conclusions from the photo (and, indeed, someone suggested that rainy days draw people to malls, sunny days do not; I don't think that was true in this case, but it shows that people could form their own viewpoint).

The point is, National was trying to claim a lot of support support and I thought people should be able to judge that claim by comparing like with like, nothing more. As I suggested a moment ago, not everyone who saw it saw things the same way I did, which is fine.

A little later, the National Party candidate also Tweeted a photo from the visit, adding, “the public response was pretty phenomenal!” The photo showed him alone, talking to no one as TV cameras pointed at John Key at the edge of the photo. There was a lot of empty space behind him, apart from some people from Young Nationals who were visiting the Shore to help with John Key’s campaign. Other photos they posted showed very few ordinary people with either one of them, certainly nothing like the photos of Labour’s visit yesterday. Despite being tempted to do so, I didn’t do another compare/contrast comparison of the candidates’ receptions, because I wasn’t out to embarrass or belittle National.

Obviously, this is trivial stuff and none of it matters in the overall scheme of things. After all, there are many reasons why Labour had more support than National did, including the weather, the fact that Sunday is often a quiet day at Glenfield Mall, and, of course, the biggest reason, the fact that the mall is in a pretty red area, overall.

The exercise wasn’t really about who had the bigger and more enthusiastic turnout at a local Mall, but that claiming a thing doesn’t make it true. For whatever reason, John Key and the National candidate in this electorate didn’t get as good a reception as Labour Leader David Cunliffe and the Labour candidates did the day before. I felt that people had a right to see the unvarnished truth to fairly judge what I felt was mere spin.

I just wish the NZ news media were better about showing the reality about things that really matter.

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