Selwyn Manning on Brown, time to go pal

Selwyn Manning is a left winger I respect. I have a lot of time for Selwyn and we have both had many good chats about politics.

How he managed to work with Martyn Bradbury I have no idea.

Nonetheless he has written an open letter to Len Brown at TDB.

LEN, THERE’S A RUMOUR BOUNDING about Auckland’s civic circles that the National-led Government is moving to remove you from office, to replace you as Mayor with a commissioner. Some even suggest a word has been re-whispered into Maurice Williamson’s ear.

Such rumours abound when a political jurisdiction is void of leadership. And remember Len, New Zealand needs Auckland more than it needs any of us.

Perhaps the rumour is a strong possibility. A sizable proportion of councillors are ready to express no confidence in you, in your leadership, in your rehabilitation.

Len, as such, the situation is untenable. It is time to go. 

If you stand down now you vacate the mayoralty having established a huge mandate for the vision you constructed during your first term. Aucklanders now want this vision implemented. But you cannot play for time. You played the game, and you lost. Now, you cannot deliver on that vision. Your part in the dream has finished.

But if you stay, the city will likely be taken from you. Your opponents will likely succeed in appointing a commissioner of their choice.

But if you go, you do so for the team, by forcing an election the voters of Auckland will get to choose who will lead the City’s council rather than that choice being made by those who currently occupy the Beehive.

And Auckland has fine sons and daughters, some have the cred to restore the City’s pride, to correct the power-imbalance that has occurred as a consequence of your own folly.

Go now, don’t allow this battle to become a Right V Left issue where the right will use their incumbency to win. No, salvage what’s left of Len Brown – the man who was once Manukau’s face of the future – for your family’s sake if not ours.

I’m not sure that there is any such talk, but I believe that Selwyn Manning is right in calling for Len Brown to stand down.

Selwyn then goes on to explain why he thinks Len Brown must stand down, and cites specific examples.

You know from experience the corrosive impact that casinos, habitual gambling and addictions have on people, on those from your home region. Yet you were in support of the National-led Government’s controversial Skycity deal. We asked why. You implied its the economy stupid.

You didn’t say: ‘The Casino began offering me free rooms at the Grand Hotel, upgrading me to the top rooms to the added value of $39,000 worth of upgrades…’

Did you realise that the casino brass would have authorised this? That there was a cost-benefit calculation in play? That you were in play?

Among the staff and management at Auckland’s hotels, it became a well known secret that you were having an affair. Did you think they kept their silence because of respect to you? Or did you realise a secret kept progresses a power of its own, especially for those who possess knowledge of the detail.

Is this why you supported the dodgy casino convention centre deal?

Len, there is no compromise when one is compromised.

Can you see why I have respect for Selwyn Manning?

Len, you might be correct, that you are truly sorry for your part in this sad awful mess. And while the wonderful British lyricist Bernie Taupin is right, ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’, sorry does not cut it in the court of public opinion. This is not akin to some Vatican-styled confessional. You don’t get to whisper to the Priest ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me’, receive a sentence of Hail Marys, thrash your bareback with a whip of nine wet shoelaces and go on your merry way. No, it isn’t that whatever you have done is unforgivable, but rather that your judgment was flawed and you exposed your frailties, your opponents seized their opportunity, you played the game and lost.

That is particularly damning.

When Bevan stood before you, instead of asking yourself why this opportunity was presenting itself, you just saw opportunity. This is an issue of judgement. You elected to play the personal after giving yourself to the public. You knew the cost, you knew the untenable incongruity. You chose an indifference to the political consequences over a commitment to maintaining your political brand – over yourself as a vessel able to carry and deliver the policies for your people.

Let’s confess, none of us could possibly reach this stage in our journey without letting our side down. None of us are Angels. But the strength of the character that was Len Brown – the great hope of south Auckland – would know when to step down, know when the game is up, would recognise when the blessings that had been bestowed on him by Ngati Whatua on top of Maungakiekie had been exorcised then repossessed.

You say now you are not a lame duck leader. You are wrong.


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