Hard News by Russell Brown

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I'll put this up the front of the post to avoid confusing fanboys who have Googled their way here. My interview yesterday with Chris Knox, about the excellent new Toy Love retrospective Cuts, is archived here as a 10MB MP3. I had my man Zach take out all but the beginnings and ends of the songs we played so no one has a copyright coronary. It's a good interview.

You can also listen to an interview from the same show with TelstraClear's head of wholesaling Raymond O'Brien, on the de-peering issue. It was initially offered as a background briefing, but I think it's better to air the arguments for all to hear, and Raymond agreed to come on. I think he was slick and I was firm but fair.

And so the Tamihere saga lurches another way. I thought he was largely very impressive in his interview on Close Up last night: it was a testament to his political charisma that he was able to get away with it at all, especially given that he seems to have done the interview without either the knowledge or consent of his bosses (although I'm willing to entertain theories that they did know). He managed to look both staunch and contrite, without actually resiling from most of what he said, he offered up great soundbites ("I idolise Michael Cullen - I'd give the bloke my toothbrush if he asked for it") and he generally pulled it off. The gossip that the party isn't entirely unhappy about the way it's gone might even be true …

Of course, the emotional traits that allow him to do this, and which are a key to his public appeal, are the same ones that lead him to get himself into trouble by being such a flaming great cock in the first place. But I feel sorry for him, talking about how he'd still love one of his sons if he "chose" to be homosexual. He needs to get out more, so to speak. I've never met a homosexual who "chose" to be gay. DPF feels the same.

Speaking of said saga, this might cause some excitement, or at least amusement, in some quarters: I got a message from John Drinnan at NBR yesterday saying that he had "had a couple of calls re your blog on John Tamihere - suggesting you are active in the Labour Party and worked on the hustings for Judith Tizard in 1993 and or 1996 - I want to check whether this is true."

Well, partially: in 1996, an old friend of mine inherited the Auckland Central Labour Party after Prebble and his chums had left pretty much scorched earth when they went off to form Act. He was wondering what he'd do and asked if I'd join, and I said yes. I'd written an editorial for Planet magazine saying that MMP was only going to work if ordinary folks got involved, so I thought I should put my money where my mouth was.

I met Judith Tizard shortly after that, went to some campaign meetings, helped write a leaflet and did some mailbox drops. (Ironically, I was mainly concerned with rolling Sandra Lee, who I couldn't bear at the time.) Apart from that, I think I only went to two electorate meetings around the same time. I delivered a batch of leaflets in 1999. That's it.

I'm not quite sure when I resigned party membership, but it was some time before Mediawatch came along. I think involvement in the democratic process is healthy, but it was obviously inappropriate if I was going to be in a paid professional role that touched on politics. I am absolutely not active in any way in the Labour Party, and wouldn't wish to be.

I made a speech about the Civil Union Bill to a Rainbow Labour breakfast last year, but that was about the issue, rather than the party, as I was at pains to emphasise when I eventually agreed to do it. I declined an invitation to speak at another Labour Party function last year because I felt that wasn't the case. I regard Judith as a family friend, but I've never discussed John Tamihere with her, although she once introduced him to me at the Silver Scroll Awards. She's the only Labour MP I actually know to more than say hello to.

I'm fairly sure I know which member of Team Tamihere would have initiated the call, but I won't go there (Christ, the last thing I'd want to do would be get involved in Labour Party internal politics ...), beyond suggesting that he should calm down and breathe through his nose. This will be in an Ad Hoc item in NBR tomorrow, which is perfectly fair. After all, I had some fun when its publisher Barry Colman paid for Don Brash's media skills training last year and didn't declare it, even after a tipsy member of the reporting staff let it slip to another journalist.

Speaking of NBR, congratulations to Deborah Hill Cone, who last night took out the Citigroup Australasia Awards for Excellence in Journalism with her series “The great Aussie bank swindle” and “Are Australian banks fleecing our tax man?” for the paper last year. Shame she hasn't made a blog post since December.

Oh, and I've told David Cohen I'm happy for him to interview me later this month for a print publication. Should be fun, and possibly not what you expect.

[That's enough NBR journalists - Ed.]

Oh, alright then …