Stop lying, stop drinking. The altercation last week between mayoral candidates John Banks and Andrew Williams had a campy pantomime quality to it. "He's behind you!"

As bad manners on the campaign trail go it's not exactly "Your mother's a whore" is it? But what do we expect from our mayoral candidates when it comes to decorum?

Some voters said when Banks and Williams were sledging each other, out-of-the-fray candidate Len Brown looked statesmanlike and respectful.

Personally, I'd choose a bolshie Churchillian with a filthy mouth and bad temper but great leadership chops over a well-spoken, mild-mannered, hand-holding type.

You can't have everything and regrettably a real get-things-done leader may not be someone you want to invite to your book club.

Remember Dick Hubbard? He was feted as the great hope for Auckland City when he became mayor in 2004 with his wholegrain consultative approach. Then nothing much happened in his mayoral term. He'd be welcomed into anyone's knitting circle but that may not be the first quality on the list for great mayors.

And when it comes to being polite it doesn't seem to be a two-way street. Some of those who protest loudest that public figures should be role models for gentlemanly behaviour are nastiest when challenged. Cuddly to members of their own tribe, but foul to those they disagree with.

The internet has given this group even more opportunities to demonstrate this.

"Facebook is recommending John Banks to me as a friend. I think I'd rather eat one of my own eyeballs with a spoon," said one of my Facebook friends.

The group "Michael Laws is a complete twat" has more than 4000 members. But being well-loved is not a vital prerequisite for a mayor - it could even be an impediment.

"You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag," said Edward Koch, a famous mayor of New York City.

To be a great mayor you not only have to have character, you have to BE a character. That's why we get such a rag-taggle bunch of oddballs who put their hands up for the job: Tim Shadbolt, Lisa Lewis, Michael Laws, Bob Harvey - and, yes, John Banks. They are all somewhat corrosive personalities. There is a reason for that. Being mild-mannered doesn't get things done.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is adored but even the Tory magazine he used to edit, the Spectator, said although he was lovable and quotable, he couldn't deliver. Halfway through his term, "BoJo" had failed because he consulted too much, trusted others too much and took bad advice.

So if you want to vote for someone who puts being liked at the top of their list of attributes, don't be surprised if in three years' time you find none of the things you moan about have changed much.