Monday, 19 August 2013

“I Love You, Mr Lange”

Sean Plunket rather overstates his case about the magnitude of last  last week’s John-off on TV3, by comparing it with the justifiably famous 1984 television debate between a fading Muldoon and a rampant David Lange.  But it did make me re-watch the debate, which was fascinating after having not seen it for nearly thirty years.

This was truly a historic moment in New Zealand affairs—the moment when NZ turned from Muldoonist despair to a hope that Lange was so good at articulating, a moment Muldoon himself seemed to recognise in rolling over in that famous last line of the night.

And what producers of modern debates could learn from this one about allowing participants to properly confront each other, and what today’s interviewers could learn from Ian Johnson about keeping quiet…

[Click the image to head to the video … and allow time to watch all four clips.]


  1. A better comparison to Keys finest hr would be The Muldoon v Simon Walker interview. Muldoon in full flight against a upstart.

  2. The interesting thing about 'famous' debates of this sort - or even the Simon Walker/Muldoon one - is few people can recall what was actually said, just the iconic one liner.

    It is interesting to note that history has shown Muldoon was correct, and Lange wrong, about a nuclear ship ban meaning the end of ANZUS (something Muldoon basically based his entire 1984 election campaign on).


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