Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Tanties are for tiny tots

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David Cunliffe says he wasn't given sufficient time with Prince William.POOL
David Cunliffe says he wasn't given sufficient time with Prince William.POOL

An 8-month-old baby is entitled to have tantrums, especially if he's teething and flying across the world with his mum and dad and being made to stay in a foreign environment while his fangs are pushing through. If Prince George is bellowing as loudly as his dad says, well, really, who can blame him?

It's quite another matter, however, for the Leader of the Opposition to be publicly throwing his toys out of the cot.

David Cunliffe is a hell of a lot older than Prince George and not nearly as cute, so it's much more difficult to excuse his bad temper. His petulant outburst this week, complaining that John Key was milking the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for his own advantage, was embarrassing.

Cunliffe complained that face time with the photogenic royal family should be split as evenly as possible between himself (as Leader of the Opposition) and the Prime Minister, especially as this is election year. However, he had only been scheduled for a single one-on-one meeting with Prince William and a trip to Blenheim on Wednesday.

He insisted he wasn't playing politics and that he would leave it to New Zealanders to decide whether he was being treated fairly. What tosh. Of course he's playing politics. It's disingenuous of him to suggest otherwise. Perhaps the reason Cunliffe is not getting more face time with Prince William is that the prince got wind of the Labour leader's conversational starters.

Cunliffe said he would be briefing William on the problem with New Zealand's balance of payments, the building of a fairer country and equal opportunities. Bloody hell. He sounds like the sort of bore who has conversational "icebreakers" written neatly in cards that can fit in the palm of his hand, the better to speechify his victims into stupors.

I've had the opportunity to chat with Cunliffe at social events in the past - he's better than that. And he knows every prime minister hogs the limelight when bigwigs come to town. Helen Clark was at the helm of NZ Inc in 2002 when Prince William's granny and grandpa toured New Zealand and she was front and centre when it came to photo opportunities - even usurping the Queen in the headlines because of her decision to wear a trouser suit to formal events instead of an evening gown.

Jim Bolger loved meeting and greeting dignitaries from all corners of the globe and had a different accent for each and every one of them. Photo ops with visiting VIPs is one of the perks of being PM - and if Cunliffe doesn't stop trying to score petty points he'll never find out what the rest of those perks are.

Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight

- Herald on Sunday

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