Alf has much the same grasp of Shakespeare as Labour’s Rangitata candidate, Steven Gibson, who has been getting much more of his share of the media limelight than is fit and proper for someone unlikely to be elected in September.
But Alf is aware of a Shakespearean play titled Much Ado About Nothing.
He is inclined to think this pretty well sums up the fuss about something this Gibson feller seems to have posted on a Facebook page, according to this Radio NZ account.
Labour’s Rangitata candidate Steven Gibson is on his last warning after referring to John Key as Shylock in a social media post, the party’s leader David Cunliffe says.
Mr Gibson was commenting on a Facebook post which had a photo of the cup of tea deal between the then Epsom candidate for ACT John Banks and National Party leader John Key in Auckland in 2011.
Cunliffe should be delighted. The irritatingly nit-picking Guyon Espiner gave him a platform of several minutes on Morning Report to discuss Gibson and this Shylock bloke.
He did the same yesterday, giving Winston Peters a platform to discuss Asian jokes instead of New Zealand First’s policies.
Getting your knickers in a twist about mention of Shylock seems somewhat odd, because he was nothing more than a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination.
Shylock was a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays (The Merchant of Venice). He was a Jewish usurer, so saying that a person is a Shylock means he’s a loan shark.
Alas, Morning Report questions that should have been designed to help enlighten we listeners about Labour’s crackpot policies – because there is an election campaign under way, you might like to know – were crafted instead to deal with the matter of whether calling someone a Shylock is fit and proper for a candidate who is supposed to be running a positive campaign.
The candidate, who is of Jewish descent himself, has apologised and said on Monday he didn’t actually understand what the term Shylock referred to, and was repeating what a constituent had said about Mr Key in the context of a bad deal.
“I was only repeating what a constituent had said to me. And it’s only now that I realise the connotations of it. To me it was like a Shakesperian reference. I’m sorry people have been offended and I’ll take the post down – that’s all I can do.”
Alf is bound to observe that anyone who posts words without knowing their meaning should be kept well away from governing us.
David Cunliffe told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme the comment showed “terribly poor judgement”, though he believed Mr Gibson when he said the comment was not intended to be a racial slur.
“He understands that it’s utterly unacceptable, that we are committed to running a positive campaign,” Mr Cunliffe told the programme.
“I’ve said to him he’s on his last warning. If there’s any repetition of this, then that would be a matter for our party council to deal with.”
Mind you, Alf is a bit perplexed by the modern-day urge of commentators to seize on one silly remark and make a federal case of it.
In Eketahuna North the Nats’ campaign team had been tempted to brand our Labour opponent a Scrooge, because he is reluctant to dip into his pockets when its his round at the Commercial Hotel.
Mrs Grumble dissuaded us.
A few of our supporters have a Scottish heritage, she pointed out, and invoking the miserliness of Scrooge McDuck may well offend them.
Moreover mention of him would malign all ducks.