National’s Mt Albert selection tonight

selects its candidate for the by-election tonight. On Friday the Herald had a useful article on it.

The National Party is embroiled in a backroom power struggle over its Mt Albert candidate, with the hierarchy’s favourite, , trying to tip out grassroots toiler .

Ms Lee is a list MP and one of National’s new stars. Mr Musuku stood unsuccessfully against Helen Clark in the last two elections.

It’s a contested selection – not really a power struggle.

The hierarchy/grassroots divide is deepened by the selection process, with the 60-strong panel of party delegates made up of appointments from both sides. The panel will vote on Monday night.

A number of new local members have been ruled ineligible after they were signed up in a recent “recruitment drive”.

This is a deliberate feature of the rules, to stop selections being stacked. To vote at a selection meeting you have to have been a member for at least six months (off memory). So it is for those who have demonstrated some long-term commitment to the party.

The local electorate organisation’s proportion of the panel is based on the number of party members it has. National Party northern region chairman Alastair Bell decides the rest.

Also a design feature. If an electorate has 900 members (as many do) they select all 60 delegates at a ratio of 1 for 15 members. If they have less than that, then the Regional Chair (elected annually at the local regional conference) tops them up to 60. It is designed to stop very weak electorates being taken over by an individual and encourages electorates to increase membership.

Mr Bell would say only that he would be appointing a “fair number” of delegates to the panel. He had used his discretion to appoint some from outside Mt Albert, but most would be from within the electorate.

I understand over 80% are from within the electorate. It is common to have a few experienced members from neighbouring electorates get appointed. I’ve been a top up for various Wellington electorates from time to time.

I would be amazed if Melissa does not win. Her maiden speech to Parliament was superb, and she is a star for the future.

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