History repeats for Mark Thomas

Written By: - Date published: 1:40 pm, May 27th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: mt albert, same old national - Tags: , , ,


The irony is that Melissa Lee’s campaign manager, Mark Thomas, is no stranger to campaigns that start off with a hiss and a roar only to collapse when abandoned by National’s leadership.

Thomas was National’s candidate for Wellington Central in 1996, the first MMP election, in a three way contest with Act’s Richard Prebble and Labour’s Alick Shaw, the story of which is told in the documentary Campaign.

Things were looking good for Thomas, just as they were for Lee. In both races, the Labour candidate was losing votes to the Left (Shaw to the Alliance candidate, Shearer to Norman) and it looked like the Nat would would sneak through the middle to take a traditionally leftwing seat.

Then Jim Bolger, Thomas’s leader, went on Morning Report and said he thought Richard Prebble would win, effectively telling National voters to vote tactically to ensure Act got in. That was the end of any chance of winning Wellington Central for Thomas, just as any chance of his candidate winning Mt Albert went out the window when Key sideswiped them with the Waterview announcement. In a manner eerily reminiscent of how Key left Lee out to dry, Bolger didn’t even warn Thomas he was about to cut his campaign off at the knees.

It’s easy to imagine Thomas learning of the Waterview announcement and repeating his words after Bolger betrayed him: “fucking prick”.

[Ironically, it turned out Act didn’t need the seat to get into Parliament. They exceeded the 5% threshold easily. They were pretty happy about it too – Campaign captures their victory party with one Actiod saying “This is how the Nazis must have felt at Nuremberg”.]

18 comments on “History repeats for Mark Thomas”

  1. Key is a Snake 1

    Melissa Lee’s demise is her own making. She did the opposite of what was expected of her: gave Mt Albert reasons why not to vote for her. She’s stupid and rascist and comes across as extremely arrogant, but lacking in facts.

    I’m not surprised National has hung her out to dry. Those snakes are quick to jump from a sinking ship. No loyalty there.

  2. the sprout 2

    Damn I knew I recognized Thomas at the Lee debate, but couldn’t think where from.

    If only I’d known at the time. He was trying to make a few disparaging comments about Lee’s opponents but quickly gave up when he realised all the coaching in the world won’t make Lee anything more than a pig’s ear, and when he realised that the people he was trying to bag outnumbered him and his by about 30 to 1, and they weren’t all above getting physical in their expressions of displeasure. A few forceful retorts to his face and he quickly showed how brave he his.

    Thomas has aged terribly since Campaign, he’s gone from looking passable but effeminate, weak and inconsequential, to looking like a bloated, pock-ridden bully.

    Campaign is a must see moive, it’s hilarious, especially for the complete arse Thomas makes of himself. Nice to see he’s learnt nothing since his carefully recorded humiliation in the Wellington central campaign all those years ago. Guess that’s why he’s the name on everyone’s lips around the beltway 🙂

  3. toad 3

    Not sure about your analysis Eddie.

    In 1996, Bolger had a good political reason for kneecapping Thomas’ Wellington Central Campaign. He wanted ACT in Parliament as a potential coalition partner, and they were polling only around the 5%, so gifting them the Wellington Central seat was politically sensible.

    I can’t see a parallel scenario in Mt Albert. I can see no political reason why the Nats would want to kneecap Lee’s campaign.

    I suspect it’s probably more like this.

    The Government hadn’t briefed Lee about details of the motorway proposal because it didn’t intend to announce it until after the byelection was over.

    But on bFM on the morning of 12 May, Melissa Lee made here first stumble of her campaign when presured by Russel Norman, stating “it’s above ground for me“.

    National panicked, thinking that comment would haunt them through the whole campaign, create the perception of a totally above ground motorway which was even worse than the one planned.

    So later in the morning of 12 May Transport Minister Stephen Joyce announces that NZTA will be announcing the preferred option for the SH16 Waterview connection the next day, which they then did.

    I think the timing of the announcement was likely hastily cobbled together as an attempt at damage control following the stupidity of Lee’s statement on bFM, and that the Nats had probably been intending to hold it back until after the byelection.

  4. the sprout 4

    and National would be remembering that things muttered on little old bfm can turn big, like Key’s famous first big blunder as leader: “I can’t remember if I was for or against the Springbok tour”.

    either way though i think it’s a reasonable conclusion to say National have abandoned Lee. smartest thing they’ve done for weeks.

    • George.com 4.1

      And who can forget Don Brash finally telling the truth (having lied for a week) on BFM about the Brethren pamphlets. “I knew they were going to issue some pamphlets attacking the Government and I said, that’s tremendous, I’m delighted by that because the Govt is lousy and should be changed”.

      Only a few days before Brash had lied to Holmes “I don’t know actually Paul. One thing I do know, its not the National Party.”

      Tha nats have a habit of putting their foot in it on student radio.


  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    Thesis: Tories do the things they do because they are mean.

    Antithesis: Tories do the things they do because they are stupid.

    Synthesis: Tories do the things they do because they are both.

  6. toad 6

    That’s how the Nazis must have felt at Nuremberg.

    I’d forgotten that one. We should throw it at Act more often.

    • felix 6.1

      I don’t think they’d mind all that much. They’re not really trying to hide it anymore.

      • the sprout 6.1.1

        very true felix, and i doubt they’ll see it as anything they ought to be concerned about.

    • Spectator 6.2

      I think it’s high time that those who sold NZ out to foreigners find out how the Nazis felt at the *other* Nuremberg – the one *after* the war.

  7. factchecker 7

    Leaving the analysis aside, there are a number of factual errors here.

    First, Alick Shaw was not losing any votes to the Alliance candidate. I don’t know anybody who actually thinks that. Shaw if anything was losing them to Thomas himself.

    Second, Bolger was on Holmes, not Morning Report.

    Third, the quote from the Act volunteer is not from their victory party – but rather from an exuberant campaign function down on Queens’ Wharf.

    Fourth, Mark Thomas is not her campaign manager (I don’t think).

  8. the sprout 8

    if he isn’t then he’s been spending a lot of time at Lee’s side in Mt Albert

  9. Rich 9

    exceeded the 5% threshold easily

    Politics must have been more polarised then, the Alliance also got 10%.

    Ok, political science students, discuss – especially given that one would expect politics to move to more extreme positions in times of economic stress?

    • Lew 9.1


      discuss – especially given that one would expect politics to move to more extreme positions in times of economic stress?

      I wouldn’t think so. In times of trouble, people tend to retrench, and in times of confusion (that’s what this is, more than crisis) they tend to vote en bloc.

      Things were different back then; MMP presented a whole world of opportunities and people didn’t really know what it would yield, so they voted their gut.


      • Zetetic 9.1.1

        In times of crisis people either cling to the established or search for radical solutions. Political movements thrive that provide a blend of both. Post WW1 and Last Depression, rise of communism and rise of fascism.

        Fascism is a deluded idea of regaining a past paradise while also being thoroughly modern.

        Communism too (when Adam delved and Eve span..).

        100,000 members of the fascist New Zealand Legion in this country.

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