Editorial: 'Mistress of text' merely staying in touch

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No one should doubt that our Prime Minister keeps her finger firmly on the pulse of what is going on, wherever she may happen to be in the world. It is often joked about that nothing occurs in this small dominion without Helen Clark knowing about it. She has three mobile phone devices and has described herself as the "mistress of text" because of her frequent use of the medium to contact, cajole, corral or commend her ministers.

Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor recognised her acceptance of the medium by offering via text message to resign after his ill-judgment over the parliamentary rugby team.

So what, then, to make of reports and denials about Helen Clark texting during the Queen's speech at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda. The Daily Express of London feigns offence and interprets republican undercurrents. At home, critics allege disrespect to the monarch. Labour's president Mike Williams says he would have been texting the Prime Minister about that time with exit polling projections on the result of the Australian election.

Helen Clark is having none of that, saying through a spokeswoman that she has no "recollection" of texting at that time. Yesterday, she called the report and the criticism a beat-up and a "crock of the proverbial". It may well be that the truth lies somewhere in between.

One of the Prime Minister's devices is a Blackberry-style handheld computer that receives text messages, yes, but also emails. The technology has come to be called "crackberry" because of its addictive effect on users. Could it be that a glance down at incoming emails, rather than the texts now denied, or even a check on the time or calendar might have been spied by the media? Whatever, the Queen surely took no offence.

National leaders can multi-task. Helen Clark did not nod off or chat to her neighbour or write in her diary. By eye and by ear, she would simply have been staying in touch.

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