Clearly we have never been John Banks supporters, but to date we have been able to accept that a reasonable person, based on genuinely held political convictions, could cast a vote in his favour.

However in light of his utterly disgraceful and divisive comments about the people of Manukau last night we are calling upon all reasonable and decent Aucklanders to reject Banks. In fact we are issuing a direct challenge to all those in the public sphere who have expressed support for Banks based upon his supposed “transmogrification” to come forward and renounce their support.

Firstly let’s review his comments in the dying moments of that debate:

If he could find a role for (Brown)  it “certainly wouldn’t be a leadership role” because we “don’t want South Auckland replicated across the rest of Auckland. His city is a social disaster.”

If there is one thing that we know about John Banks is that he doesn’t blurt. He is ruthlessly disciplined and every comment he made in the debate would have been carefully determined and planned. So make no mistake, this decision to directly attack an entire city and play on the worst stereotypes about Manukau city was a calculated move.

Late in the campaign with polling against him and strong turnout in Brown’s heartland, John Banks has decided that the only way to drive people to the polls to vote for him his to raise the spectre of “South  Auckland” with all of the crude labeling and racial connotations that the term carries. Indeed the term itself is a calculated insult, an epithet used to write off the people of Manukau city by those who have never actually been to the place and witnessed the wonderful spirit, creativity, and sense of community that it has in spite of many difficult long-term issues.

Banks is trying to appeal here to the very worst instincts in Aucklanders to get them voting for him out of fear and loathing. This is no way for a decent person to campaign, and most importantly, it is no way to govern our city.  A person who chooses to elicit support in this base fashion simply cannot be allowed to lead our city.

No doubt John Banks does have his good points, and equally Len Brown is not perfect. However we can be absolutely sure that Len’s style of leadership is an inclusive one. This kind of utterly divisive behaviour from Banks is repellant and must be rejected. We urge all reasonable and decent people to reject Banks and his divisiveness this election.

In particular we urge those public figures who have swung in behind Banks, some of whom have proud progressive pedigree, to come forward and renounce him in light of this display of divisiveness. His transmogrification is a sham, the leopard has not changed his spots, and we cannot allow a person who speaks this way about hundreds of thousands in our city to lead us. Those with influence, who have expressed support for Banks previously, now have a responsibility to come forward and speak up against him and his divisiveness.