The trouble with an election is the strange influence it has over certain individuals.

Not us voters, of course; we are all sane, level-headed types who will consider the relevant issues on merit, add in a healthy dose of "for the good of the country", and cast our votes accordingly.

No, the people in question are the candidates, those fascinating characters who wish to represent us for the next three years. At least some of them, anyway. Take the local Labour candidates, for example. Both are, apparently, usually nice and well-meaning people; and then came the election.

In Napier, for example, the wonderfully pugnacious Stuart Nash wants to do a lot of fighting." Nash vows to fight port sale". Nash vows to fight chlorination" Maybe a brawling MP is what we need? A government where debates are settled behind the bike sheds, after school? Perhaps not, on reflection, although it would at least make a passingly entertaining change.


When he's not donning his metaphorical suit of armour and climbing astride his white charger to be our champion, Nash has achieved a reputation for seeing both sides of every issue.

Only last week he pronounced Labour doomed if it changed its leader. Shortly afterwards, he explained that a change of leader was exactly what the party needed. It's a rare quality in politicians, this sort of 360 degree perspective, if indeed that's what this apparent volte-face is.

Across the Bay is another Labour aspirant, PR tycoon Anna Lorck. Henry Ford once opined that if you employed someone who was good in a crisis, get rid of them, otherwise there would always be a crisis around.

Well now, Anna! Just recently she's announced a water crisis, a housing crisis, an education crisis and goodness know what else. We should be grateful for her insightfulness, because walking around the clean, safe and prosperous streets of the Bay, you would never realise the entire region is one giant seething crisis.

Actually it's hard not to feel sorry for Anna, not least because her budget must be wearing thin with all the things she's had to remove from her billboards: first her premature and amusing claim to be an MP, then her party leader was axed, and as a final straw the mesmerisingly insightful party slogan got the bullet.

At this rate, come Election Day, Hastings will be littered with big blank red canvases. Her very own billboard crisis.

Lorck and Nash are indeed a far cry from their only real opponents, Lawrence Yule and David Elliott, neither of whom are given to overly dramatic pronouncements, provocative rhetoric or knee jerk reactions.

Yule and Elliott are both familiar and comfortable with responsibility, and exude an air of trustworthy competence, born of a track record of solid and substantial achievement in their respective careers.

Whether the electorate prefers responsibility and competence over histrionics and aggression remains to be seen, but history suggests the good folk of Hawke's Bay are sensible types well versed in spotting the difference between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk.

Because in an election, that's what really matters. The consequences of electing someone go way beyond election night.

They last for three years, and as Mr Nash himself rightly points out in an opinion piece for the Daily Blog, "Opposition is a complete waste of time as the opportunity to achieve anything meaningful simply does not exist".

Such self-deprecating honesty is of course commendable, albeit scant compensation for 3 wasted years . . .

But there is a lesson for us all contained within.

If we want things to be achieved, don't be gulled by the emotive battle cries of crisis-mongers or show-boaters; vote for people who will be in a position to achieve things for us, and who have the ability to follow through.

Jerry Flay is a Hawke's Bay based freelance writer. This is the first of a weekly column he will be writing in the build up to the general election. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.