Lonely Lenny as mates abandon him

Len Brown is literally a man alone.

Even The Gurnard took time out from writing puff pieces about the Fat German to knock up a few words to that effect.

You know things are serious though when the Herald abandons you, and left wing commentators are kicking you in the cods. Selwyn Manning, Simon Wilson and Chris Trotter both say that Len Brown is a corpse. Now Tim Watkin weighs in.

It’s all just rather pathetic really, isn’t it? Yes, I’m talking about Len Brown. From the affair itself to the Auckland mayor’s response and on to the council’s limited options for censure, pathetic seems to me the best word to sum up the whole shooting match.

Today the council officially and unanimously “censured” Brown, according to Stuff, for “his behaviour during a two year affair with Bevan Chuang”. The Herald adds, thankfully, that it was “for failing to declare free hotel rooms and upgrades and the fallout over his two year affair with Bevan Chuang”.

He will have to pay some money back and contribute to the EY report costs. A committee will decide how much and – unacceptably – that will be confidential. That’s one part of the story that should still have legs; of course Aucklanders deserve to know how much they’re paying and how much is the mayor’s share.

As Mike Lee said today such a censure is unprecedented and the strongest condemnation the council can make of the mayor. It is also, as Cameron Brewer said, “a wet bus ticket”. Such is the sorry state of affairs we’re left in. One job should now be on the agenda is to explore other ways that holders of this office can be held to account for misbehaviour, mis-spending and ultimately misleading the public.

The censure comes after the Herald also took unprecedented action, calling for an Auckland mayor to resign. Yet Brown has ridden that out and now has the Christmas break for the immediate pressure to ease. This is as bad as it gets.   

No Tim, it will get much, much worse.

In large part because he has no political future. A few months ago he was a man with a strong mandate and the chance of a third term looked very good indeed. Now he’s a dead man walking.

Politically, that could have its advantages for the city. Anything he wants to do he has to do in the next two years. The child of this affair could be some mayoral urgency.

But if he thinks he can win again, I fear he’s mistaken. New Zealanders are quick to forget politicians’ failings, and if it was down to just the affair itself he may have had a shot. But his handling of the public since – his willingness to address the issue quickly aside – has been defined by hubris and, well… I come back to the word pathetic. Yes, the affair is personal. His family is a victim of this circus. But it’s a circus of his own making and Brown seems unwilling to face this fact. He also seems unwilling to acknowledge the harm down to the city and the apology he owes to those who voted for him. In repeatedly stressing how personal this all is, he has shown little contrition to those he represents and has failed to ask for their forgiveness. The lack of humility means voters will not be in a hurry to offer him absolution.

When it comes to the hotel rooms, reference and texts, his sins are public not personal. Again, and more inexplicably, his response has been defined by hubris and a lack of self-criticism. In public at least. He has refused to repent to the city, and so the city won’t forgive. Hence, all the public I’ve spoken to – including those who voted for him – have no inclination to vote for him again. He can’t be trusted.

If he can’t be trusted now, he shouldn’t be the mayor.

Should he resign? Perhaps. I’m not at all certain on that, however. My instinct last week – as I said on ZB – was that such a punishment was disproportionate to the crime. He has done nothing illegal and the monies involved aren’t substantial. It’s not as if council cash was misused or money taken from the mouths of starving Aucklanders. It’s just frustrating there aren’t other censures the council could take between a strongly worded motion and outright sacking.

I love the left wing’s justification…done nothing illegal…tell that to Paul Henry, Aaron Gilmore, Phil Heatley, Pansy Wong, Alasdair Thompson, Richard Worth and many others. They did nothing illegal…and yet they resigned…only for left wing politicians do they hold out the nothing illegal claim.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.