Lusk on choosing a party

January 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Lusk has published the second chapter of his book on campaigning. It is available on Amazon.

He says he is happy to help candidates for parties he disagrees with, with the exception of the Greens. He labels them as the most unsuccessful minor party in NZ – not in terms of votes, but achievements.

He points to the significant policy wins that NZ First, the Alliance, ACT and the Maori Party have managed, and contrasts that to the Greens who have almost nothing to show for 15 years in Parliament.

The future is not much brighter. They refuse to work with National, and if Labour can win in 2017, they will be dependent on NZ First who will again block the Greens from Government.

Lusk: A Campaign Professional’s Guide to Winning New Zealand Campaigns

November 26th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Lusk has written A Campaign Professional’s Guide to Winning New Zealand Campaigns. He’s releasing it a chapter at a time on Amazon.

The first chapter is on the need to start with a good candidate. His first point is a good candidate should be friendly and outgoing. He suggests the following tests:

  • Can they walk into a room of strangers and enjoy it?
  • Do they have charisma?
  • Do they have a prodigious work ethic?
  • Are they are a fighter?
  • Avoid “risk takers” and “sinners”
  • Are they realistic about their chances and career prospects?

This is more a guide for campaign managers than candidates, but prospective candidates would find much of it useful also.


Bowker says Nash knew of report

October 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A story in Hawke’s Bay Today has revelations that appear to have been overlooked by other media. They report:

A Wellington businessman has challenged Napier MP Stuart Nash’s claims that a report into starting a new political party by National Party and Dirty Politics figure Simon Lusk was commissioned without his knowledge. …

Wellington businessman Troy Bowker and a man known only as “Ned” approached Mr Nash about starting a new political party. He said he told them he wasn’t interested and, unbeknownst to him, they commissioned a report with Mr Lusk.

Mr Nash said Mr Johnson sent the surfaced email because he mistakenly believed Mr Nash had commissioned the report himself. But Mr Bowker told Hawke’s Bay Today yesterday that, contrary to Mr Nash’s version of events, the Napier MP told them to come back when the report was done.

“We might have had an early conversation with Stuart, he said he wasn’t that keen on the idea … He said let me know when you’ve had a look at the report.” Mr Bowker and his business associate “Ned” approached Stuart Nash proposing to set up a new “centre, centre-right [political] party”, and Mr Nash was aware a report was being commissioned.

Mr Nash yesterday maintained he didn’t know about the report until after the fact.

“I didn’t know they were going to commission a report.”

There is a direct contradiction of evidence between what Mr Bowker and Mr Nash say.

3 News on Nash

October 9th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Labour Party leadership race has been hit by its own version of Dirty Politics.

3 News has obtained an email showing MP Stuart Nash wanted to set up a rival party with help from a key figure in Nicky Hager’s book.

Mr Nash is denying the threat of the email forced him to quit the race.

“That is simply not true. I have never been blackmailed into standing down,” he says.

The email links Mr Nash to Simon Lusk, a notorious right-wing political operative, who usually works with National, is a close ally of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and a key figure in Mr Hager’s book, Dirty Politics.

The e-mail has been circulating for some time, allegedly written by Nash’s 2011 campaign manager. I saw it a few days before the election but could not authenticate it as it did not have any headers, so didn’t run it. I thought it might be a fake, as the language was so strong in condemning Nash. I didn’t pass it on to anyone, but I gathered it had spread quite widely so not surprised it eventually got into the media.

The email, from 18 months ago, shows Mr Nash’s Napier campaign manager, Rob Johnson, complaining that: “You had two friends of yours commission a report from Simon Lusk to the tune of 10 grand as to whether you could gain more influence by establishing your own political party in competition with Labour.”

However Mr Nash said he is “Labour to the core”.

In his email, a furious Mr Johnson calls Mr Lusk an “enemy strategist” and Mr Nash “reckless” and “naive”.

He warns Mr Nash if Mr Lusk’s involvement gets back to certain members of Labour, his entire campaign and career could be torpedoed.

Mr Lusk says he does not disclose his clients.

“Although in this case I will make an exception and say Stuart Nash has not paid me.”

Mr Lusk was paid by “Troy” and “Ned”. 3 News can confirm Troy is Troy Bowker, former Hawke’s Bay boy-turned-multi-millionaire Wellington investor, who knows Prime Minister John Key from the London investment banking scene.

Mr Bowker said today a group of business contacts wanted to set up a centre party, but Mr Lusk’s report said “it wasn’t viable” – and Nash said “no”.

The question that isn’t answered was when did Stuart know about his friends commissioning a report from Simon, and did he say no before he read the report or afterwards? In other words were they acting as an agent for Stuart, or totally independently or somewhere in between?

Also of interest would be the report itself. Maybe Stuart could release a copy of it! 🙂

Mr Nash says Mr Johnson got the wrong end of the stick with the initial email and calmed down after it was explained, staying on to help him win Napier at the election.

But Mr Johnson’s email had already been passed on within Labour.

Mr Nash was called by acting leader David Parker on Sunday and officially pulled out of the leadership race the same day. It seems inevitable that if he pushed on, it would have been used against him.

There is correlation, but that may not causative. I think the moment Andrew Little started saying he was looking to stand, it made a Nash candidacy less viable.

UPDATE: I understand Mr Lusk is very upset at the suggestion that one of his reports would cost only $10,000.

Studying Simon Lusk

August 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoffrey Miller has gone back through Simon Lusk’s Master’s thesis on Ecampaigning, and makes some observations.


Internal tensions

June 1st, 2013 at 7:59 am by David Farrar

David Fisher at HoS reports:

Leaked documents written by a political strategist who has trained National MPs set out a vision for taking the party to the right of the political spectrum, tripling donations to $6 million a year and using donations and government jobs as inducements to control MPs.

Written by political strategist Simon Lusk, the papers were leaked by a “senior National Party source” to theWeekend Herald, TV3’s The Nation and Fairfax.

I’d never seen the papers before this week.

The message was also important – “dominate the media by controlling the message through credible right wing blogs”. Mr Lusk also said there needed to be a focus on “taking over the public sector” to create a pool of fiscal conservatives who would work with politicians.

I’d  rather shrink the public sector than take it over 🙂

He urged those reading it to “stop donating to the current government”. “They have not listened and will not listen.”

Not surprisingly, a strategy of urging people not to donate to the party doesn’t meet universal popularity.

Incidentally National disclosed donations of $773,000 last year. That doesn’t include donations of under $1,500 which can also account for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr Lusk’s briefing came at a time when he was organising training sessions for potential National Party candidates. Disgraced MP Aaron Gilmore was among those keen to attend but was rejected after he failed to meet the fees charged.

As far as I know, the training sessions were free to attend, but invite only.

Longtime National Party member David Farrar, who runs Kiwiblog, was listed as a speaker at a February 2012 session at the Kauri Glen Lodge in Puhoi, north of Auckland, where the session was held. He pulled out.

“I was asked not to,” he said, saying “party hierarchy” made the request. “It would look as if it were officially sanctioned,” he said. He stayed for the social aspect – Mr Slater posted on his Whaleoil blog a photograph of Mr Farrar’s rental car reversed over a wall – before leaving.

Whale loves posting that photo.

The National Party is a broad church, with many factions. They include:

Blue Greens

They’re National but they’re conservationists. Nick Smith is the greenest blue in the party.

Blue Liberals

National with a heart – Katherine Rich showed her liberal streak when she rejected Don Brash’s social welfare plans.

Fiscal Conservatives

Small government, big business. Former party leader Don Brash later ran Act.


The overseas wing of the party. Prime Minister John Key is the ultimate homecoming story.

Young Nats

The path to the party from an early age. Nikki Kaye is currently the youngest minister in the House.


The superannuitant wing. Dr Paul Hutchison has just picked up his Gold Card.

I wouldn’t really call them factions. Most “factions” in National are personality based rather than policy based.

Also the Blue Liberals are not wets, they are classical liberals who tend to be “fiscal conservatives” and social liberals – ie people who think the Government should but out of both business and our private lives.

In a related story, David Fisher writes:

A political strategist who has trained National Party MPs says the Ports of Auckland colluded with right wing bloggers to undermine industrial action against the Ports of Auckland.

The claim is in a leaked document written by controversial strategist Simon Lusk – and hotly denied by the publicly-owned port company. …

“The case in point is the way the Maritime Union have received huge negative publicity about their salaries, based on POAL (Ports of Auckland Limited) working with certain bloggers to control the story. Financial support for these bloggers will enable them to build their credibility and readership.”

I was asked about this. I have never had any communication or contact with Ports of Auckland, or anyone acting on their behalf, with regards to this issue. Off memory the only time I’ve had contact with them if when I blogged they should be shifted to Manukau Harbour! They are not keen on my proposal!

Mr Slater said he covered the strike as other media outlets did. He said there was no arrangement with the port to do so and he had not discussed it with Mr Lusk.

He said yesterday he had never actually been paid although believed he should be. On the port, he said: “I hate unions pathologically. I’ve hated them since I was 15 years old and I would do it for free.

“I have never been paid for any posts about unions, ever.”

Some things are just a pleasure!

Vance on Lusk

May 25th, 2013 at 6:16 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance profiles Simon Lusk:

Simon Lusk is one of the most intriguing figures in politics. The arch political fixer shuns the limelight, rarely venturing from his home in Havelock North to Wellington. He maintains a strict silence about his clients – mostly wannabe National MPs. …

Certainly, Labour are fixated on this Right-wing bogeyman. Last year, the party’s chief whip Chris Hipkins lodged 259 written questions of ministers, asking about their communication with Mr Lusk.

And what were the results of that great fishing expedition? Nothing. What a waste of money.

Some believe he is a Whaleoil alter-ego – regularly penning posts for Cameron Slater’s Right-wing blog. Others say he is close to Cabinet minister Judith Collins, and the pillar of a triumvirate of Nasty Nats, including Slater and pollster and Kiwiblog founder David Farrar.

Woo hoo, we are a triumvirate. Are we based on the first triumvirate or the second triumvirate? I’m not sure which one I’d prefer – probably the second as they got to proscribe their enemies 🙂

In the flesh, Mr Lusk, 40, is disappointingly un-evil. There’s no maniacal laugh or sophisticated spinning, just a man who drives a ute and dotes on his three dogs, Bruce, Lucy and Mabo. He is punctilious and very serious, absorbed with politics and fixated on going fishing and hunting.

Mr Lusk doesn’t make his money through politics – but is reluctant to say what he actually does.

“I contract part-time to a number of long-term clients . . . my background is strategy and marketing.”

One such firm is based in the British Virgin Islands. Friends say he works odd hours, so that he can devote large amounts of his spare time to his two passions: politics and hunting.

He spends “two to three hours” a day reading political literature from the US “looking for knowledge that can be applied here”.

Simon is very focused, and more so on fishing and hunting.

“Political parties always need people who are willing to upset the status quo . . . As to nastiness, I am temperamentally unable to be as nasty as some of the Labour Party.”

Heh, a great quote – and so true.

“Currently, I am not doing anything for National, but pragmatism dictates if they were to ask I would likely accept contracts where I could be useful.”

He says he prefers to work for individuals – and only those on the Centre-Right.

“Many on the Left lack grace and I find it hard to deal with people who lack grace.”

And some tips:

He won’t divulge details but Simon Lusk is said to have won four electorate campaign races in 2008, and three in 2011. Some of his tips include:

“Start with a good candidate. Politics is hard enough without a good candidate . . . Preparation is crucial and the best candidate [is] willing to do the most work.”

“I am thorough in documenting every campaign and the lessons learned . . . Predicting trends is a crucial part of my business.”

“The simple rule is that it is possible to overturn a majority of about 6500 in a single election, although this is entirely dependent on having a good candidate.”

“Local government is a fine training ground for candidates, and is used very effectively by National’s opponents.”

The entire article is an interesting read.

National Board documents

May 9th, 2012 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

Every now and again infighting gets so bad in the Nats that some gems are delivered to me. In this case it is a set of their Board and Board committee minutes.

Except they were “leaked” to numerous people, not just Trevor.  As I understand it they were posted to numerous journalists, and a few MPs.

And as I understand it, there was no leak. Just a theft. One board member never received his board documents in the mail, and it was his copy that got posted to various people. So it looks like someone took them from his letterbox. This is very plausible as his name was on them, and you would never leak documents with your own name on them. So no, there isn’t someone leaking to Trevor. Just a politically motivated theft.

Trevor is very excited by the negative references to Simon Lusk. This is amusing as just a year ago Trevor was insisting that Simon was actually working for Campaign Chair Steven Joyce, and was a loyal National Party servant. Trevor’s theories never seem to worry about consistency.

One item in the leaked minutes which I found interesting was that the Young Nats signed up 715 members on Auckland tertiary campuses over Orientation weeks. That’s a huge achievement.


The Lusk fixation

April 17th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour seem to have an obsession with Simon Lusk. Trevor Mallard has been blogging on him for over a year, and then in a rush of blood to his head (or somewhere) decided he was the secret leaker in the ACC saga. Never mind that the ACC Minister hasn’t spoken to him once in the past year.

As Trevor’s defamation defence will be based on proving his wild theories had a semblence of credibility, he set his assistant defence counsel Chris Hipkins to work. Chippie filed no less than 259 written questions to Ministers on Mr Lusk. Putting aside the cost to the taxpayer of their paranoia, his fishing expedition was very wide. He asked every single portfolio Minister the following:

Has he or his representatives had any written communication with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the communication?

Has he or his representatives had any oral discussions with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the discussion or discussions?

Has he or his representatives met with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the discussion or discussions?

One or two Ministers are yet to reply, but from what I can see 100% of the responses are “No”. So Trevor’s defence strategy is looking pretty shaky.

Plus anyone who knows Simon knows that at this time of year the last thing he worries about is politics. His main activity is being out on a grassy knoll with a high powered rifle looking for venison to go in the freezer.