Why Len Brown’s Affair Should Matter to the Public

I have been reading with great interest the conversations over the last few days about whether Len Brown’s affair should impact his political career. That is an interesting question but what we need politicians to know is that what happens ‘behind closed doors’ does actually matter.

Here’s why.

Politicians ‘sell’ an image, people vote on that image, if that image is false then voters have been somewhat hoodwinked. If you set yourself a public ‘standard’ and then fall short of that standard there are downstream effects. If this information about Len Brown had been released the week before the election would he gotten re-elected? If not should he step down?

Mayor Len Brown has ‘sold’ his Christian credentials, and there is no question that there have been many, especially in South Auckland, that have given Len Brown their vote because of the label he has chosen for himself.

Here is some audio from 2010 when he chatted openly about his faith and his desire to emulate a political figure due to his integrity.

Mayor Len Brown chats openly about when he attended church and what denomination he was attached to, then Len was asked if he prayed.


The interviewer then went on to ask about going through trial and tribulations which at the time were accusations about credit card misuse


The interview then asked if his Christianity affected his policy


Len Brown finished the interview by sharing why Mahatma Gandhi was the most inspiring political figure to him.


I don’t judge Len Brown for what he has done, neither do I think he should necessarily be forced to step down, the whole purpose of this post is to point out to public figures that you need to stand by the standards you set for yourself, the ones you choose, the ones that help you win votes and when you fall short of those standards you need to be aware there are consequences.

There is an argument that says we are all failed beings and one can class themselves as a ‘Christian’ and have these failings. My advice to the political world is that you shouldn’t choose those labels then. I avoid the word ‘Christian’ like the plague, not because of what it means, but what people think should go with it, both positive and negative. Len Brown has chosen to let the public of Auckland define what kind of person he is by actively using the word ‘Christian’, it’s gotten him votes but then when you fall short of the publics expectations of that label you cannot claim that ‘no one has the right to know’. If you invite us in with this image, you cannot expect us to stay out when the image falls apart. I’m not saying that is fair…I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

I’ve been having the conversation about how people ‘sell’ themselves for ever. In 2010 when Jeremy Elwood and I ran a political podcast we interviewed Don Brash and I think we were the only people to bring up one of the most obvious questions to him. After talking about ‘behind closed door issues’ when he ran advertising that claimed he stood by his morals and integrity so I asked him how can we trust you, if your wife/wives can’t trust you?

Don Brash was selling a public image, that didn’t match up with his ‘real’ image. Your ‘real’ image is what happens ‘behind closed doors’.

Again let me say I don’t condemn Len Brown, in fact speaking with a mate this morning the phrase ‘feet of clay’ came out and I think that’s fair. We have all fallen short of the expectations of those around us, I would just say to political figures to be careful about your ‘public’ persona if your ‘behind closed-doors’ persona doesn’t match up.

10 thoughts on “Why Len Brown’s Affair Should Matter to the Public

  1. Hugh Allan October 17, 2013 / 13:53

    What does nn of this have to do with doing his job?

    • Pat Brittenden October 17, 2013 / 14:02

      Well one could argue that if there is a conflict of interest due to a sexual relationship that could effect his job, but it has more to do with how he was elected. If people knew the full story would he even been elected to perform in his job.

      • kate October 17, 2013 / 16:42

        I don’t always agree with your posts, Pat but I think what you’ve stated is very valid. Yes, if that information had come out prior to the election, I have doubts about whether he’d have been re-elected as mayor. It’s all very sad to my way of thinking…..

  2. Hugh Allan October 17, 2013 / 18:26

    This argument revolves around the elected Mayor’s supporters, purportedly the majority ‘Xians, This lionises the latter. However it is his perceived transgressions that are the issue. What civil or criminal laws has he broken? His sexual peccadillos are not unique and concern only his wife. There is no larger issues like buggering little boys, rape, underage girls, forced homosexual relationships or even association with prostitutes.

    The criteria for doing his job does not include the acceptance of any sexual ideological system. Can the elected Mayor administer a growing city with a diverse population and rapidly changing infrastructure that has to be heavily subsidised by the central government?

    The young woman concerned admittedly was on the wrong end of an uneven power relationship. However she does not appear to be mentally handicapped, nor helpless or naive. Brown is possibly childlike in singling out a woman who may just have been placed into his office for just a purpose. Certainly her recent behaviour suggests this. The question is why? Who controls Bevan Cheung? Why has she chosen now to come forth?

    I do not believe this matter is over is over. You may very well be correct? Many hold your opinion. The issues should be professional competence, housing, jobs, education, health and honouring The Treaty within our beautiful, unique and promising city between the Manukau and Haurakii. Perhaps at least we can agree on that?

    • Pat Brittenden October 17, 2013 / 19:05

      Well there are a couple of things to answer you points. The first is that no one has suggested that the majority of his supporters are Christian, just a percentage, the second is that this extra marital affair may in fact have affected his criteria for doing his job if any illegal activity has taken place, and I’m not suggesting it has but there has been an independent enquiry called to check that out and finally again, it’s more about how you get elected to do you’re job. Len Brown may be the best Mayor that AK has ever had, but would he have had that chance if the voters knew about his accurate moral compass. This post is not about “should Len Brown go”, it’s about all politicians being truthful to who they really are, and giving us the public the chance to vote for the real “put politician’s name here” and not the stylised, well marketed fake front.

      • Hugh Allan October 17, 2013 / 19:16

        You’re a soldier Pat…

  3. Hugh Allan October 18, 2013 / 09:27

    Sometimes negative news does come out, but it is often exaggerated and manipulated to spread scandal. Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia: which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects.

    Pope Francis I

  4. Richard Anderson October 20, 2013 / 20:37

    Too true and it has everything to do with hisjob ! This clouds his integrity, his honesty, his credibility and his values. He sold us all of those virtues and more. And he has failed on them all. Shame on him. I now dont trust him with the reins. Please surrender them to someone who is genuine and trustworthy.

  5. Hugh Allan October 20, 2013 / 23:45

    @RichardAnderson: …integrity, honesty, credibility, values, genuine, trustworthy…these are not words but qualities of character rarely found all at once for any length of time in one human being. Sex and love of money are two human weaknesses found in all politics, economics, religion or a mixture of all three. ie, the Vatican Bank, all governments, the UN. Fiscal corruption the public condemns. Sexual improprieties excepting children, generally overlooked. RCC maybe one exception?

    Brown may be brought down by this tawdry little scandal but the collateral damage will encompass the media, a campaign rival and social conservatives. To Auckland’s detriment his successor may not have Brown’s qualifications or experience.

    Screaming by the self-appointed “incorruptibles” for heads to roll (or those motivated by simple revenge,) usually results in a backlash characterised by exponential humiliation and moralistic scapegoating. Until the public tires of this. Us mere mortals know why laws exist and those laws are blind for good reason. And we get on with our lives.

    Outside of revelations involving the GCSB, John Banks or foreign money involved Len Brown should weather out this cheap bit of titillating yellow journalism…and get on with his job. Auckland, New Zealand and most of those interested in housing, jobs, education and health for this city and country will be better off.

    • Hugh Allan October 21, 2013 / 01:03

      “As always, imagine how great the press corps would be if it devoted 1/1000th the energy to dissecting non-sex political wrongdoing”
      ― Glenn Greenwald

Comments are closed.