Boots Theory: What is going on with the local-government Right?

Written By: - Date published: 1:25 pm, March 1st, 2016 - 19 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, C&R, local government, phil goff, Politics - Tags: , , , ,

Reprinted from Boots Theory with permission.

Something really, really weird is going on in the right, and I’m not talking about John Key, who has politically driven a political referendum process about our national identity for several years now and has suddenly decided to pretend otherwise because his polling isn’t looking nearly as good as he claims.

Nope, I’m talking about the upcoming local body elections in Auckland, where we now have three avowed right-of-centre mayoral candidates – four, if you want to make a cruel joke about Phil Goff, which the NBR certainly did.

Poor Mark Thomas was first out of the gate, only to be hamstrung by compatriot Cameron Brewer, who famously responded

“in the absence of a big name, good on Mark for being prepared to articulate the concerns and aspirations of the centre-right”

Victoria Crone seemed like the perfect choice for that “big name” – polished, professional, common-sense, good business background in an iconic Kiwi business (even if they did buy advertising on That Blog). Then she opened her mouth and everyone, even Josie Pagani, quickly realised she’s brilliant at vague aspirational mission-statements, and rubbish at actual policies.

And now – and I’m still not entirely sure this isn’t a hoax – John Palino, the man most famous for running with the Dirty Politics crowd who exposed Len Brown’s extramarital affair and horrifically exploited the woman involved, Bevan Chuang, has decided he wants to go again. But he also wants to make it clear he’s moved past that whole thing, and has proven it by hiring Simon Lusk as his campaign manager, getting Cameron Slater to organise his media contacts, having Carrick Graham at his campaign launch and raising the Len Brown story at literally the first opportunity.

Tim Murphy’s recap of Palino’s campaign launch is very good reading, albeit in a “too outlandish to be a Yes Minister script” way.

So that’s the National Party’s line up for the Auckland mayoralty. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

There’s no strategic benefit here. Auckland uses First Past the Post to elect its mayor, and with Phil Goff comfortably occupying the not-too-left-but-still-Labour-enough space, the right proper cannot afford to split its vote.

So what’s going on? Is this the National Party civil war, which we all assume is happening but has been judiciously kept under wraps, finally coming to light?

Or did no one actually think “let’s find a candidate we can all get behind”?

Or did they do that, then realise there were no good options – literally no one who combined talent, credibility, and charisma?

Have they all decided that it’s better to let Goff win than let any of their internal rivals near the levers of power? And we’re back to the National Party civil war theory.

Things seem a bit more sedate in Wellington, where so far we have two centre/left mayoral candidates in Celia Wade-Brown and Justin Lester – vote-splitting isn’t an issue because Wellington uses STV – and one rightwing candidate in Nicola Young, who’s been steadfastly playing the role of “reasonable, friendly Tory” – trying to hook up a deputy mayoral deal with Labour’s Paul Eagle and pulling weird stunts about the Kate Sheppard traffic lights.

But look at the bizarre antics in Auckland, and you might think (cross your fingers) that finally the right, up and down NZ, are getting sick and tired of pretending to get along for the sake of power and itsy-bitsy incremental rightward progress. Finally, they can be the ones having a messy power scrap in public.

The test is this: will the Wellington right unite behind Nicola Young’s nice-and-reasonable facade to try to knock down the big pool of Wade-Brown/Lester preferences? Or is someone else going to throw their hat in the ring? It’s STV, after all. It wouldn’t be splitting the vote. You might even argue it would help the right to get more profile.

There are rumours flying about this councillor or that business leader stepping up to the plate – there are always rumours. It’s Wellington, we get bored easily. But as someone who likes seeing a bit of a ruckus happening on the other side of the fence, I can only say: oh please, please let’s have our own Tory scrap.

19 comments on “Boots Theory: What is going on with the local-government Right?”

  1. AB 1

    “Who is your preferred centre-right candidate for the Auckland mayoralty? Crone, Goff, Palino or Thomas”

    Which should tell even the obtuse NBR that unlike Goff; Crone, Palino and Thomas aren’t centre-right at all.
    They are ‘right’ to ‘far right’.

    • saveNZ 1.1

      +1 – although Goff is pretty right of centre in all the wrong areas like TPPA.

  2. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 2

    There does seem to be some cracks forming on the right.

    There has been the caucus flag email leaks.

    Hooten recently wrote an article for the NBR where he laid into Nick Smith for being stupid wrt housing policy because it threatened the wealth of the leafy suburbs.

    Then you had the local government revolt against the Unitary Plan -which destroys Nationals housing policy agenda -led by National party insiders from leafy suburbs.

    You can read about it here

    Note: Click the link at the end of each article to go to the next article if you want to read the whole 4 part series.

  3. McFlock 3

    If you tack electorate MP selection alongside local candidate selection (I assume many of the same folks would be involved in a given electorate/locality), it starts to look even worse…

  4. Rosie 4

    Aucklanders, I’m sorry for you, really I am. When I heard Palino was standing again I did a little groan, on your behalf, followed by another when I heard he’d hired Simon Lusk and that Carrick Graeme was also lurking. This choice of campaign manager alone, really lowers the tone, and going by his media gig yesterday it sounds like he’s already set the bar pretty low, Trump stylez. All attack, no substance.

    So you’ve got 4 mayoral candidates in various shades of blue, /blue/red and independent Penny Bright. Has nobody else stepped up, representing the left?

    As for Wellington. I’d agree things are fairly sedate here. So sedate that this will be the first time I won’t be voting (except for an excellent Labour ticket candidate in our ward, but no vote for Mayor) – for reasons that I’ve already mentioned far too many times on TS.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    lack of basic co-ordination or game of thrones? maybe both, it is about what flavour you prefer your right wing medicine in really for the supercity

    Phil Goff says he will not flog off the Ports of Auck but anything else will probably still be fair game, and he hopefully has higher standards than perma tan Pallino and the dodgy company he keeps–and a real understanding of how central government works

    given that only thirty odd percent of jaffas are likely to vote, while most of them nonetheless seem to enjoy moaning full time about the “countsull” who can lefties seriously vote for?

  6. Phil 6

    …three avowed right-of-centre mayoral candidates – four, if you want to make a cruel joke about Phil Goff,

    I think you’ve answered your own question right there. Why would the centre right movers and shakers of influence (who ever they might be) waste their time and resources finding a suitable candidate with bona-fide right wing credentials, when one has already been presented to them by Auckland’s left wing?

    • Sacha 6.1

      The capital’s left-wing. Thanks, Labour.

      • Petertoo 6.1.1

        The capital is far from left wing Sacha. Don’t you know that Wade-Brown was responsible for employing the most extreme neo-liberal CEO in the country and that she and Justin Lester are very adept at funneling rates and ratepayer assets to the private sector faster than the speed of light. Add to that the fact that Lester, an executive member of the Property Council, never disqualifies himself from sensitive property asset decisions which some would consider highly questionable and that together, they have 50% control over a sizable slush fund (Bill English’s sister-in-law and the CEO are the other signatories) that has been used for thinly disguised bribes (e.g. Singapore Airlines) and questionable deals (John Morrison’s call-centre deal). Clearly, the left in Wellington is either corrupt or the Mayor and her deputy are firmly in the pockets of the right wing. Even more disconcerting, one of the most highly regarded Labour Councillors (Paul Eagle) is prepared to hitch his credibility to the Lester wagon in the hope of becoming the Deputy Mayor, knowing that Wade-Brown hasn’t a show in hell of regaining the Mayoralty. This results from her having sold out on all the green causes she claimed to espouse when she initially attained a higher placing than as a very mediocre Councillor two elections ago. Many green and avowed leftist stalwarts would welcome Kerry Prendergast back as Mayor as she was more transparent and honest then the current incumbent and her aspiring successor.

        • Sacha

          That does somewhat validate my description, thanks. 🙂

        • Rosie

          Thanks Petertoo. You’ve put it more eloquently than I ever could.

          Don’t forget the convention centre and the panda’s, (a side show distraction the serious matters you mention above)
          I agree that faux green CWB will be voted out and in her place we will get the representative of the developers protection league instead.
          Would have voted Paul Eagle had he stood.

          PS: Had yet another run in with the developers in my neighbourhood last week. Their contractors continue to piss on my fence in full view of me. This is part of the intimidation tactics going back to last year when I was threatened by one of their staff over my attempts to get to the council to intervene over the 40 hour a week 44 decibel (it was measured) stereo noise coming from the builders.
          The only councillor that has ever supported me is a “right wing” one from another ward, whose assertive and proactive approach has been really appreciated by me.
          Personally, as a result of my experiences of dealing with councillors, council officials and managers over the last 18 months I have come to see that locally, in terms of principle, there is no right or left, just allegiances – and ours are corporate enablers.

  7. b waghorn 7

    Anyone who wants a laugh check out palinos’ performance on three news last night. Mad bad and to stupid to realise when to keep his mouth shut.

  8. Ad 8

    Of the 21 Auckland Councillors, here’s who isn’t likely to survive:

    – Brewer (likely retiring the field) Right-leaning
    – Cooper (too brittle, bad voting record) Right-leaning
    – Lee (probably retiring) Left-leaning
    – Quax (probably retiring for health) Right-leaning
    – J Walker (retiring for health) Left-leaning
    – W Walker (hasn’t made an impact) Left-leaning
    – Watson (hasn’t made an impact) Unpredictable
    – Wood (probably retiring) Right-leaning

    Webster will face a challenge up north, but I think will survive.
    There’s a remote chance Fletcher won’t stand, but then she’d have nothing to complain about.
    The rest should be OK.

    Point is, the Mayor is only one vote. At term 3 we’re due for a refresh.
    Just a few good people will tilt this machine the right way.

    • Sacha 8.1

      Yes, Councillors are more important than the Mayor, ultimately. Which would be why Nat-aligned front-groups are putting their effort there rather than into the mayoral race.

  9. Incognito 10

    Who’s to say that all people who said they will be standing will actually make it to Election Day and not pull out beforehand? We may see some pseudo-Primaries in Auckland and undoubtedly polling will play a major role.

  10. Matthew Hooton 11

    “What is going on with the local-government Right?”

    Don’t know about outside Auckland, but here in Auckland the local-body right is acting with great altruism to provide a comedy show for the voters. This is also bad for Mediaworks’ TV3 ratings on Friday nights, because its shows will struggle to compete with just rewatching the 6pm news items on Auckland politics.

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