The Connell saga is not dying down, with Brian accusing Don Brash of a “selective retelling” and saying he will confront Caucus on Tuesday.
Where will this end up? There are a number of possibilities. The broad options are:
Connell apologises, gets portfolios back eventually, gets stuck into his portfolios, works feverishly at any chance to attack the Government and if National wins in 2008 gets a Ministerial position.
Comment: Not looking likely.
Connell doesn’t apologise, but doesn’t continue to criticise publicly. Diligently works at being good local MP, and remains backbench National MP for Rakaia.
Comment: A possibility. However Connell has said he thinks he is PM material, and is unlikely to ever be happy just being the MP for Rakaia.
Connell continues to snipe, but not enough to warrant formal disciplinary action. However seen as ineffective and isolated and is challenged in 2007 for the 2008 nomination.
Comment: Also possible. However keeps issue in the media, and means possible negative publicity closer to next election.
Either Caucus or the Board suspend Connell, and he is blocked from seeking re-nomination.
Comment: Not a long-term option. A suspension has to be either revoked (as with Maurice) or lead to expulsion, otherwise keeps issue in media.
If criticisms continue unabated, Connell’s party membership is revoked and he becomes an Independent MP.
Comment: This will result in bad publicity now, but mean the issue disappears from public eye in a few months. Independent MPs find it very hard to get any publicity at all, they are almost invisible in the House, and unless their departure was on the basis of a policy breach to set up a new party, little long-term media interest.
Connell resigns or is expelled from National and seeks a new mandate in a by-election.
Comment: Can not be ruled out. Connell has referred to his majority several times and obviously thinks he could win a by-election. Personally (and having worked for the previous MP for Rakaia for several years I know the electorate quite well) I think National would very easily win the by-election, especially as Mrs Shipley (who is still very beloved there) would I am sure endorse the official candidate. If National stood an existing List MP such as Kate Wilkinson, then National would gain Katrina Shanks as the next List MP.
Please note I am not endorsing any particular course of action, just highlighting what they appear to be. I certainly hope it can be sorted out quickly and beneficially to all parties.
The Press raises the issue of whether this will lead to support for bringing back the party-hopping legislation. I agree with The Press that it should not.