John does not understand

July 21st, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


Give me a break.

“Interesting to be in a party where the leadership decide selections,” David Farrar says of ’s decision to stand in , as if ’s selection of Paul Goldsmith wasn’t one of the worst leadership stitch-ups in the entirety of MMP.

I mean, he’s just shameless. I blogged when Goldsmith was selected that it made sense. But to then take the mickey and claim it was a local decision is bizarre. Goldsmith has been selected by party command  to throw the seat to former National MP John Banks, whose biography Goldsmith wrote. The locals wanted Bhatnagar.

John’s experience of political parties is limited. In the Alliance Jim Anderton decided everything. On the one occassion the rest of the party wanted a say, Jim stormed off in a huff and killed the party. Then in the Progressives Jim even named the party after him so he had full control.

In , the head office had three votes on a seven person panel, and combined with the unions can decide most selections.

This is why John thinks that in National, the head office decided the Epsom selection. He can’t imagine a party where this is not possible.

In seats with membership under 900, the Regional Chair can have influence as they select some of the 60 delegates. But in a strong seat like Epsom, the 60+ local delegates are selected purely by the members in their branch meetings, and those delegates get 100% of the votes (the Regional Chair has a casting vote but not a deliberative vote).

Party members take their duties seriously as delegates. Unlike Labour where a union can bus in scores of “members” who have never attended a Labour Party meeting in their life, and have never even met the candidates, National has eligibility criteria. You must have been an individual member for at least a year, and more importantly you must have attended a Meet the Candidates meeting to be able to vote at the selection meeting.

On top of the formal MTC meetings, candidates generally will meet every delegate one on one in their house. To win a selection you need to spend weeks getting around all the delegates – some you may even meet two or three times as they question you on your beliefs, your experience, your ambitions.

I accept this is all alien to John, but it is how it works in the seats where National has membership of 900 or more.

Meanwhile NewstalkZB report:

Labour Party frontbencher David Parker’s to take a tilt at Epsom.

The list MP has confirmed he will be taking on National’s Paul Goldsmith and Act’s John Banks at the general election.

Now I am told nominations are still open. Yet the story treats Parker as if he is the confirmed candidate. That is because they know in Labour if the hierarchy support you, you will almost always win – their rules are written that way.

What is more interesting is that Parker is moving from Dunedin to Auckland. His relationship is part of it no doubt, but look at the politics.

If Goff loses, him and Annette will go. Parker and Street could well be the replacements. But Labour could not have a Leader from Dunedin and a Deputy from Nelson. Auckland is their stronghold, and where elections are won.

By moving to Auckland, Parker makes himself a far stronger contender for the leadership.

Also I should note that the blogs were first to say Parker would seek Epsom.

19 Responses to “John does not understand”

  1. RRM (12,583 comments) says:

    In how many seats is there a National Party membership greater than 900?

    [DPF: Probably 25 or so seats.]

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  2. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    The ODT, presumably sourced from the Herald, had a “more correct” version this morning:

    Labour list MP and former cabinet minister David Parker, of Dunedin, is seeking to stand in the Auckland seat of Epsom at this November’s general election.

    Mr Parker, long associated with Dunedin but increasingly Auckland-based, confirmed to The New Zealand Herald yesterday he was seeking his party’s Epsom nomination.

    He is not expected to threaten Act New Zealand’s John Banks.

    And they have made up the electorate’s mind for them.

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  3. Nookin (4,579 comments) says:

    I disagree, David. He understands very well. He simply applies different standards to different parties for different purposes. Integrity is not a motivating factor

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  4. Adolf Fiinkensein (3,638 comments) says:

    He will bring a whole new meaning to coffee and sandwiches at the electorate office.

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  5. backster (2,512 comments) says:

    “The locals wanted Bhatnagar”

    I thought I read somewhere that the Labour voters in the Mana byelection wanted a candidate called Pagani but had a carpetbagger from Goffs office thrust upon them.

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  6. Inventory2 (12,409 comments) says:

    So; it works this way then; Parker stands in Epsom, loses his third consecutive electorate contest (Otago 2005, Waitaki 2008, both to Jacqui Dean) but returns to Parliament via Labour’s list. Labour is annihilated in November, Phil Goff retires, and a vacancy is created in Roskill (assuming he wins his seat); Parker wins the nomination ahead of Michael “Penis Lolly” Wood, who takes one for the team.

    Yep; all bases covered. The only indeterminable is whether or not Parker will improve on Kate Sutton’s 13.5% or the electorate vote in 2008; the jury’s out on that one…

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  7. smttc (826 comments) says:

    IV2, Parker’s got no chance of getting close to, let alone improving on, Kate Sutton’s numbers in Epsom.

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  8. wreck1080 (5,020 comments) says:

    he he, so you are saying john is ignorant.

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  9. thepolecat (70 comments) says:

    How silly you both sound arguing over this issue. Clearly the National Party MPs do exactly what they’re told by Johnny Key, so why would he and other high-up party members not have control over candidate selection? Its pretty clear to everyone that Aaron got shafted up there, you’d have to be a moron not to understand that.

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  10. BlairM (2,755 comments) says:

    thepolecat – because there are sixty delegates, selected not by Key but by the local party, and they vote in secret ballots. Theoretically, Key could have rung them all personally and told them which way to vote, but I suspect he is too busy being Prime Minister, and the delegates don’t have to listen to him.

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  11. Inventory2 (12,409 comments) says:

    @ Blair; especially as he was in a plane bound for the USA at the time that the Epsom candidate selection took place…

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  12. niggly (964 comments) says:

    Two things:

    1 – regarding the difference between Labour and National, whereby in the case of National (and the Greens?) the party members vote on the candidates to represent their electorate etc. This appears democratic to me, so why does Labour (and presumably other harder left parties like the Alliance) insist on following a policy where the Party Organisation has a large influence on candidate selection? Serious Question! Presumably that harks back several decades when Labour was formed – but no-one has seem fit to change it? (It seems like something straight out of Stalin’s handbook on maintaining absolute control). But in this day and age? Society has progressed to address previous power imbalances especially post the 60’s social revolution, so again the Labour Party policy seems like an anachronism to me.

    Incidentally I recall Pete George saying many a time in the past, words to the effect that politics (politicians) in NZ needs to mature and idealogical partisan politiking needs to be put aside for the greater good of the NZ people. It seems to me, seeing that the Labour Party is an inherant part of the NZ political landscape, that one way for Pete to see his aim achieved (something which I share and no doubt many others here – I’m sick of the constant Labour manipulation of the NZ landscape, as even their latest campaign rorting Parliamentary Services shows etc) would be to somehow force Labour to become more democratic in its candidate selection process etc. I doubt this could be legislated (a la Helen Clark and EFA style), which is a pity, so perhaps change needs to come from within Labour. But will it happen? Doubt it, hasn’t so far after several decades so why now?

    2 – Parker, nice chap he is somewhat, is a bit of a wet sock and would have less public popularity than incumbent Phil Goof, so WTF is this talk about standing Parker in Epsom? Now I see merit in what IV2 is suggesting above & typical of the way the controlling Labour faction operates – it’s whispering Parker’s name for Epsom despite nothing from Goof or Party Pres etc. Is it just me, that’s very H1’s style and it’s there clear as day that the Labour controlling faction (gonna have to call it the H1 faction, for lack of a better term) are using Parker (as they have since they helped clear his name a few years ago) to potentially present this Parter/Street leadership duo and could slot into Goff’s vacant Mt Roskill electorate. Trouble is Parker could be discarded or relegated once he serves his purpose. It’s called taking one for the team I suppose.

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  13. flipper (5,304 comments) says:

    In defence of DPF… There are things that may be suggested by the National Party Board. But unless they are agreed by the party / electorate membership the HO wallahs will be/are told to bugger off. Suggestion is one thing. But if “suggestion” has the faintest sniff of control or a “power grab” it will not have a prayer. Regional Conferences have REAL power and electorate delegates are never afraid to use it. As for bussing in outsiders (or HO twerps) – that would never be tolerated.

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  14. flipper (5,304 comments) says:

    Niggly… Nice piece.

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  15. Inventory2 (12,409 comments) says:

    @ Niggly; the big question though is this; would Labour elect to its leadership a man who, if he fails in Epsom will be a three-time loser in electorate contests. You’d have to question Parker’s ability to connect with the voting public.

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  16. niggly (964 comments) says:

    IV2 – you’re onto something. Parker’s a “nice” guy, but too unassuming, I can’t see him realistically ever being an eventual Labour leader (unless only as a “temporary” leader in Opposition, a la Phil Goff, holding the fort etc). Eg he also doesn’t have Helen’s gritted determination and vision to re-shape NZ’s political landscape. That’s why I see him as a potentially public face (or puppet) to some other faction plotting in the background … and once he serves his purpose, or someone else better comes along, it will be “c ya later”.

    Another reason why Parker could be “useful” for Epsom, is the raised public profile, which may assist with keeping others out of this leadership picture (Cunner’s maybe?). Doesn’t really matter if Parker loses, which realistically he will. Eg a potential Parker/Street leadership combo & raised publicity – would a Cunners/Street combo be a possibility? If not, that might answer alot of questions.

    But hey I dunno, and I suspect most of Labour don’t really know either. Clearly Labour is a very fractionated party, as they have been over many years and decades, so anything could happen depending on which grouping seizes any windows of opportunities that may present themselves over time eg polls, dirty-tricks, whispering campaigns, caught out lying etc.

    PS also agree with Nookin above. JP is no fool and knows how the candidate selection process works across the political spectrum. He’s simply doing “the good work” of manipulating public opinion etc.

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  17. leftyliberal (655 comments) says:

    @niggly: If not Parker, then who? Cunliffe doesn’t seem all that inspiring either and nor does anyone else to be honest. Mind you, if Key wasn’t around I suspect we could have the same discussion regarding the Nats as well – no one particularly inspiring there either to be honest. At least smile and wave has the, er, smile and wave! Act is suffering similar issues – leaders matter, and for many people popularity matters (unfortunately!)

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  18. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    Pagani is so very wrong in his assessment. Labour’s selection process is as patently undemocratic as anywhere in the western world. Only in electorates with 500 paid up members is there a hope of the local electorate party members nominating their preferred candidate (and there are very few of these left). When Clayton Cosgrove was nominated for Waimakariri he was the annointed successor to Mike Moore having worked in his office and on his campaigns since he was a school boy at St Bedes (little trivial fact – Gerry Brownlee was his woodword teacher!). Mike always made sure that he had 500 unchallengable paid up members to ensure the 3rd LEC delegate to the Labour selection panel (to match the 3 from Head Office). Head Office wanted a local trade union hack to succeed Mike since the sisterhood were anxious to expunge all memory of Mike and his loyalists as quickly as possible. Union heavies duly showed up to cast the union block vote for the floor vote. We had to ring around to make sure that every Mike friendly local party member was there to counteract the unions on the floor vote. So even with Clayton having the support of the 3 LEC delegates and winning the floor vote, the Labour head office delegates kept hammering the 3 LEC delegates for a solid 4-5 hours in an attempt to wear them down to have them cave to head office’s demands.

    THAT is how Labour’s leadership gets its way. I’ve never been involved with a National Party meeting or selection but it sounds light years away from what I saw time and time again in Labour. Pagani either is wilfully ignorant of National’s processes or is so imbued with Labour’s undemocratic process that he cannot comprehend a more democratic way.

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  19. Paulus (3,571 comments) says:

    Parker only wants to get out of Dunedin, and his marrriage, as his “little pony” is based in Auckland where she is trying to get the Auckland Central seat. Assuming she is his only current “pony” in Auckland.

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