Captain Panic Pants and the Saga of Ecan

Following on from the theme of Kevin Taylor aka Captain Panic Pants being inept in comparison to media specialists like Mike Munro (who managed to keep Helen Clark in touch with humanity), and Bevan Burgess (who sold Roger Douglas? economic reforms as a bigger plan to make New Zealand a better place, even when it meant hurting people in the short term), lets consider the drama surrounding the removal of the Ecan councillors.

ECan protestor jumping on John Key's carThis hurt National in the polls in Christchurch. There was a massive and ongoing negative news cycle where the left decided to hammer away about democracy and how evil National was to remove direct representation.

Of all the dramas in the media, Ecan was the most easily avoidable for anyone orchestrating a proper media campaign. Ecan was a terribly dysfunctional council that was dead last on ratings of councils because they failed to achieve basic goals. They couldn?t process consents, they couldn?t come up with a water plan, and as a council they couldn?t be trusted to do anything more than bugger up anything and everything they were responsible for.

Ecan had been inept for nearly two decades. They had been so inept Trevor Mallard and Labour had seriously considered replacing the council in the later years of the last Labour government. This was well documented, as was Ecan’s ongoing failures.

Any media strategist thinking ahead to the inevitable conclusion, Ecan councillors? sacking, would have used this to good effect. There would have been a three month campaign where Ecan was systematically and publicly held to account for its failings, so by the time Nick Smith had to sack them, the public were convinced that sacking was the only option. Labour would have been drawn into it, with their cabinet papers from 2007 and 2008 looking at Ecan released and talked up, so Labour couldn?t attack for fear of being called hypocrites.

Instead Captain Panic Pants did nothing. He let the Ecan councillors and the left dominate the media, and made it seem as if National were evil for removing elected representatives. Weeks of protests hurt National in a crucial swing area, and Captain Panic Pants needs a good slapping for failing to take the initiative on this, leaving a messy situation to get messier.