Michelle Boag: Personal failing doesn't affect ability to lead

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Mayor Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.
Mayor Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.

Whenever a public figure suffers humiliation or disgrace because of a personal failing, we are quick to judge.

We are entitled to our opinions, since we exercise them as taxpayers, ratepayers, shareholders or stakeholders.

One of the virtues of our Western democracy is that every person from billionaire to beneficiary has the right to exercise an opinion of equal value. That's as it should be, and our free access to media, to talkback and social media enables us to do so. This is a privilege that is not shared throughout the world and we undervalue it because we have never known anything else.

In the case of Auckland Mayor Len Brown's indiscretion, a reader poll on nzherald.co.nz found a majority thinks he should resign.

Although I come from the other side of the political divide, I hope he doesn't.

Yes, he had his head turned by an attractive young woman, and he isn't the first and won't be the last middle-aged man to be fooled into thinking that it was his personal charm rather than his political status that captured her interest.

My question is, is Len Brown's ability to lead the communities of Auckland any different today from last week when so many of us who voted, voted for him? Does the fact that we now know he is capable of deceiving his family undermine that mandate?

For some of us it will; for those of us who have long memories and recall any number of politicians who have been guilty of similar indiscretions, it is a 48-hour storm that leaves a sour taste but doesn't change the reality that we have big issues to address and we need to get on with dealing to them.

Len Brown has to live with his personal failure - his image will never recover with those who feel strongly about that - but as ratepayers, we expect him to do the job he has been put there to do.

I am certain that the events of the past few days will ensure he will strive even harder to do that job. I certainly hope so.

Michelle Boag is a strategic communications consultant with Boag Allan Pirie and is a former president of the National Party.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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