No, Gareth — YOU are the dick

There he goes again. 

An advocate for landlords says The Opportunities Party's new tenancy policy doesn't fit the way most tenants want to operate.

Gareth Morgan's response was to call him a dick.

But before we get to that, some background. Today, if an owner sells a house, they can give tenants on a periodic contract 42 days' notice to vacate.

TOP wants to introduce the same system as Germany, where there only reasons to evict are property damage or failure to pay rent, and there are tight controls on rent increases in the event a tenant does vacate — measures designed to encourage long term tenancy and lower rents.

While he didn't have hard statistics when interviewed by NBR Radio, Mr King says his own experience as a landlord is that 99% of tenants want a flexible arrangement rather than a long-term lease. The flexibility cuts both ways, he says. If a tenant in a rental on the  North Shore gets a new job in South Auckland and wants to move, they'll appreciate they can do so on just 42 days' notice.

He also says TOP is highlighting only the positive elements of the German system. He says tenants have to install furnishings like curtains, carpet or even a kitchen, then pay to restore a rental to its original state before they leave – a considerable cost that can effectively yoke a tenant to a property.

Mr King and TOP leader Gareth Morgan are already adversaries, thanks to TOP's asset tax policy that aims to add $11 billion a year to state coffers from property owners.

Earlier today, the Property Investors Federation fanned the flames, saying Mr Morgan's funds management background gave him a bias against landlords.

Granted, that was a bit on the nose, but Mr Morgan lost his rag, quickly hitting back on social media: "Just how thick can lobbyists be? I left funds management five years ago. I also own multiple houses."

Least anyone think that was not aggressive enough, he added, "Andrew King's a dick."

It was reminiscent of when he lost the plot and got abusive to a reader in NBR comments.

NBR's take: Playing the man and not the ball is never a good look.

A few politicians do have the knack for it: the late David Lange, for example, or the all-too-still-with-us Donald Trump. The US president's insults are not my cup of tea but they're often light-hearted and go down a storm with his followers.

There's a thin line between refreshing, tell-it-like-it-is humour and just being, well, a dick.

Mr Morgan just sounds boorish and whiny. He might have a high IQ when it comes to formulating policy but when it comes to politics, his EQ is in the basement.

Heap on the cheap spaghetti
Earlier today, Prime Minister Bill English said people don't vote on personality.

The truth is they do, along with other non-political criteria like confidence, smarts, competence and likeability. 

Don't shoot the messenger, but policy is way down the list — which is how John Key could win three elections despite being offside with majority opinion, and even non-binding referendum results, on key issues like asset sales and immigration.

Beyond his soundbyte to the Herald, the PM is well aware that personality counts. Hence the spaghetti pizza and other 'relatable moments' carefully sprinkled through his social media. No, he doesn't have his predecessor's natural instinct for this sort of thing (or Jacinda's) but he's giving it a go.

Gareth Morgan would be well advised to try and be more likeable – or at least stop bluntly abusing people – if TOP is to have any chance of jumping from 2% to 5%. That would be a fool's errand, of course, as Gareth thinks himself above that sort of carry-on. Yet it's the stuff of politics. And if you're no good at politics, you can't get into power and get anything done.

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