Locke learns the art of losing gracefully

By Claire Trevett

A near-naked stroll down the main street of Newmarket gave Green MP Keith Locke the honour of becoming the first politician to keep one of those many extravagant promises made on the hustings.

"I will run down the main street of Epsom naked if Rodney Hide wins Epsom," Mr Locke had sworn at a public meeting. But a G-string allowed him some dignity yesterday.

Confronted with Mr Hide's 3244-vote election-night margin over National's Richard Worth, Mr Locke, still lean and mean from the rigours of the campaign trail, didn't run, he walked.

And, obviously deciding full nudity would transgress Act's law and order policies, he wore underwear, shoes and socks.

And he opted for the "artistic rather than crude" approach, so the only bare skin on sight was his face and hands. The rest of it was covered by detailed body painting, a suit with a Green Party theme.

"My only regret was I didn't read the Greens' gambling policy thoroughly. I had to do it. The Greens keep their promises."

But an Act supporter at the event was disappointed he hadn't stuck to the letter of his promise. Tony Overton noted in an internet blog: "Just like that great communicator Bill 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' Clinton, Keith 'I'll run through Epsom naked' Locke thinks that people will forgive him if he's only semantically wrong."

However, onlookers were more relieved than scandalised by the politician's cover-up.

Mr Hide was elsewhere - at Mt Eden Bowling Club's season opening - but was relieved Mr Locke had not stuck to the letter of the promise.

"I know politicians are supposed to have naked ambition, but I never thought Mr Locke's would reveal itself in this way," he said.

Newmarket Business Association head Cameron Brewer was also relieved. He said people could not just run down Broadway willy nilly, so he put the 277 lingerie shops on standby to provide some cover if necessary.

"Our shoppers are discerning. It's school holidays and we don't want his organic fruit and veg anywhere near these people. So we asked him to please wear something, whether a biodegradable loincloth, a banana skin, or even something smaller, like the shell of a broad bean."

Mr Locke was "dressed" by Phil Du-Chard, Creative NZ body art award winner.

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