I have known Len Brown since his days as a Manukau City Councillor. Len set up the Manukau Business Forum with Barry Curtis to ostensibly involve local businessmen in planning the city's development. I was on that forum and became its first Chairman.
I came to appreciate Len as a smart, hard working and well meaning individual, dedicated to the community he had lived in and served for most of his life.
I and my fellow forum members however soon realised that politicians are very adept at playing charades. We were invited to, and attended, endless public functions where we were generously introduced as making worthwhile contributions to progress within South Auckland. Nothing however could be further from the truth. We were merely puppets for the politicians own agendas.
The forum members were never involved in the city's planning. At best we were the first to see the plan that the politicians had already endorsed with the Council bureaucrats.
I came to understand that politicians have become masters at the art of separating perception from reality.
In order to survive in that environment politicians have to learn the art of deception.
Of all the politicians with whom I had to engage Neil Morrison, the former MP for Pakuranga, was the person who had best perfected that art. Neil was introduced to the forum as the Council's most knowledgeable and respected business advocate. He became the Council's representative on the forum with the supposed role of being the forum's advocate on Council.
Over time I came to understand that Neil had no business experience of his own. The closest he had come to know the risks involved was to help his daughter in her small hospitality company. Of more concern was that business failed!
On one memorable night at the Manukau Business awards I was seated beside Neil and he was totally inebriated. In that state Neil revealed some remarkable insights to his private life. He was a member of the Ulysees Motor Cycle Club and admitted that he no longer had a sex life!
Having divulged these personal details Neil realised that he had exposed his flank. In an attempt to retain my confidence he loaded me with more of his private views. He admitted that his only income came from Council and would attend every available meeting in order to expand his wallet. The content of those meetings was incidental.
I suspect that Neil was not unique.
After eighteen months the Business Forum was closed by its members because they no longer wanted to be dupes for the politicians who had set them up.
So I am not surprised at the revelations about Len Brown.
He is, I believe, the victim of the political process that has served him well to date.
His charade has been exposed by an opponent envious of the power that the mayorality holds.
Len is clearly as human as those that he has chosen to serve.
The problem, if there is a problem, lies within the expectations of our society.
We desperately want our representatives to behave in puritanical ways that are unrealistic.
We have always had the Muldoons, Langes and Dunns to point fingers at. There are a host of others whose private lives haven't followed the narrow confines of our conservative moral codes.
I doubt that our society would accept that our electoral system could be corrupted by the presence of child abusers amongst our elected representatives.
Society is so naive - we have some real experts in the game of charades.
Len's indiscretions are tame by comparison to these masters.
Give Len a break - its something the original Loosehead would approve.