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The Metamorphosis from being Observed to Being an Observer

This column could alternatively be called –poacher turned gamekeeper or should it be gamekeeper turned poacher?


My recent foray into observing from the sidelines appears to be as problematic as it has previously been while being observed as a councillor. Judging from the comments to my earlier piece, I note with some irony that you can get the same robustness of debate, the same vitriol when you are outside the system as you can receive while a councillor! Here in Kapiti in the arena of political debate no-one on either side – reported on or reporter – get any quarter! It is a thumbs down from all sides of the gladiators’ playing field.

So let us consider how valid is it to now use the experience of the system, gained during 18 years, to comment on the new council?  Or for that matter any council? It is very valid, necessary and appropriate for voices outside the sanctuary of council to watch and be heard and for the pen, poisoned or not, to write a comment. 

Equally it is just a valid for those at the critical end of my pen, who themselves have a history of criticising and commenting as observers, to now react to my observations.

Their comments, fair or unfair, justified or not, measured or vitriolic caused me to pause for thought.

Is it valid to morph from the observed to the observer? 
Do my observations imply bitterness? Or are they simply more astute and well aimed for having been there and done that?

How do former critics cope with being criticised? Not well it seems. But then it is early days in the three year cycle of being in the public eye, of being the servant of the people. It is early days to judge whether election promises are being kept or ignored. It’s early days to see whether new councillors can cope with the system, or not!  Or whether it will spit them out at the other end, disenchanted with the machinery of council or whether they will survive to fulfill a dream, a promise, an ambition.
What I am convinced of is that observing the public servant is a critical part of democracy.

So to the newcomers on the Kapiti Coast District Council, welcome to the wonderful world of politics and its windowed cage, so exposed to the glare of public opinion.