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Alternative Nation*9: We are Devo

Good evening, I’m Judy Bailey, you’re on One. And here is your news... It’s funny, it’s historic, and it’s backward looking -- but it will take us all into a happy future. That’s what the National Party is saying about its new marketing campaign for the forthcoming election.

The party today announced a new round of campaign events designed to appeal to what leader Don Brash says are “mainstream ordinary New Zealanders who remember what this country used to be like, and want to get back to those core values”.

At the Auckland Zoo today Dr Brash cut the ribbon on the first of a series of chimpanzee tea parties to be taken around the country, but already the event has outraged animal rights activists and drawn fire from Labour for its alleged mistreatment of animals and being condescending towards voters.

At the tea party one chimpanzee is dressed like Helen Clark and another like Michael Cullen.

Ingrid Petrie has the full story:

“Yes and good evening Judy and today, as you can see behind me, the National Party brought the media to the Auckland Zoo for a chimpanzee tea party designed to appeal to mainstream, ordinary New Zealanders who remember what this country used to be like, and, in the words of Dr Brash ‘want to get back to those core values‘.

The idea is for a travelling roadshow of chimpanzee tea parties which will be taken to public parks, rest homes, schools and sports matches over the next three weeks to capitalise on the momentum the party has gained out of what have now become known as its South Park-ads on television.

Dr Brash told his audience today that keeping the issues clear was very important and so in the South Park campaign the party had concentrated on personalities and kept the issues to a minimum, if not ignoring them entirely. The tea parties are another step in the road to simplification, and with added humour to appeal to simpletons.

As you can see behind me the chimpanzees dressed as Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are pouring tea all over the table and each other, and the audience is laughing at their stupidity. Dr Brash acknowledged there was danger that some people, adults who are allowed to vote for example, might think the animals are just being cute -- so professional veterinarians have put laxative in the tea they drink. And I have to tell you Judy, the outcome was quite off-putting.

After the tea party a keeper dressed as John Key comes in and restores order while another dressed as Dr Brash clears up the mess, and at that point the party’s message is quite clear: something about National being in the shit I think.

Back to you Judy.”

Thank you Ingrid. Ingrid Petrie at the Auckland Zoo.

But as we mentioned at the outset, this new campaign has drawn fire from animal rights groups. David Ratler has the story:

“Yes and thank you Judy. Now, animal rights groups are objecting to this type of archaic treatment of animals and calling it a throwback to the dark days of bear-baiting and the Holyoake Years. Now, activist leader Jeremy Watt told me today that his group intend rescuing the chimps from these tea parties and if that means confrontation with National Party campaign managers then so be it. Now, he said if that meant stealing the chimps and setting them free in the wilds of Cornwallis, or somewhere near St Luke’s shopping centre, then that what they were prepared to do. Back to you Judy.”

Thank you David. David Ratler there, standing in a street outside our studio so it looked like he was on location.

Despite the criticisms of the National Party campaign there has been a favourable response to the tea party idea from media commentators, this from Stephen Bainbury.

“Yes, thank you Judy, and while the idea of chimpanzee tea parties sounds unusual if not slightly bizarre, media experts spoken to today said this was a courageous technique by National which is finding new ways of talking down to people. It is keeping things simple for morons, while at the same time appealing to the nostalgia many feel for the old days.

Susan Waterhouse of IPMD Media says the tea party idea cleverly appeals to dribbling geriatrics who remember such things from their youth, and young people -- especially students and people in rock bands -- who are embracing such nostalgic concepts as 8oz glasses of beer at bowling clubs and wearing boho-chic clothing from op shops in a homage to the late 60s.

Stephen Bainbury, One News.”

Stephen Bainbury there. Telling you what someone else said, but rather more succinctly.

And in other news, police were called when a Labour Party-sponsored Punch and Judy Show created chaos in a shopping mall in Auckland today.

The traditional show with what Labour campaign manager Barry Leech called “clever subtexts” portrayed Labour leader Helen Clark being beaten around the head by a Punch dressed as Maori party leader Tariana Turia. The idea was to engender sympathy for the Labour leader, especially when a character dressed as Uncle Sam is invited on stage by a puppet dressed like Don Brash. Uncle Sam then detonates a bomb which vaporised the characters.

However parents and children at the mall screamed and fled in panic when the bomb went off, and later in the day Labour issued a statement saying that it had perhaps been rather too subtle in its message.

From now it, like all the other parties, would be keeping its message simple, relevant and quietly condescending.

And -- after the break, sport with that guy who has huge teeth, weather from someone who will talk about it for far too long, and something about the recent spate of car bombs in Iraq, the riots in Bangladesh, a devastating earthquake in Japan, and then a lengthy story with lots of pictures from two months ago about a dolphin that can swim backwards through treacle.

Right here on One, your news channel.

*See previous disclaimers, and please believe me. I am making this shit up! It isn’t true. It, unfortunately, just looks that way.