Barry Soper: Paula the Performer the new face of politics

Acting up: Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Acting up: Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Mark Mitchell

She's a bit like a soap opera actor, not quite up there with the Kardashians, more like a member of the Osbourne family.

Paula Bennett's not a person you would have naturally pointed your finger at as a natural fit for the job of Deputy Prime Minister. But that's what the conservative National Party did in December and it wasn't as though they didn't have other takers for the job.

It came as no surprise that our then court jester Prime Minister John Key rooted for Bennett given that he knew she'd take over from where he left off, acting up for the television cameras, putting a bit of frivolity into into the serious business of politics.

Certainly Bill English, try as he might with his latest rash of weird, self-produced, videos doesn't cut the mustard.

We unfortunately live in an age of reality TV, where talking about policy is outweighed by performance, as cringe worthy as that may be.

Performer Paula was live on telly the other night, hamming it up, giggling to the cameras, joking that her boss Bill didn't know she was making an appearance, adding that she doesn't know where he is and he doesn't know where she is, ending with a psst "Don't tell him."

Yeah well, this was well and truly orchestrated, just like the English pizza and the latest walk-run video which Bennett described as "adorable," claiming that she sends him out on his exercise. She was asked whether she got up to mischief when he's out of the office, more like when he's out of the country, she chimed in, when she's acting Prime Minister. Acting to her, she says, is acting up!

The mind boggles.

And on Donald Trump, Bennett said: "I gotta be really honest, we don't spend a lot of time talking about him." Honestly! If they don't they they damn well should. What's happening in Washington could certainly reverberate in Wellington.

But if Jacinda Ardern's the cosmetic surgery for Andrew Little, then Paula Bennett's the Key factor for English.

And that just goes to show how politics has changed in recent years. The former deputies of the major parties wouldn't rate on the thespian scale. Can't imagine the old deputies, like Don McKinnon, Jim Anderton, Michael Cullen or Bill English acting up and over shadowing their leaders, but then that probably says more about the current leadership and unfortunately, the current climate.

- Newstalk ZB

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