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National’s Auckland Central problem

Written By: - Date published: 8:27 am, August 3rd, 2020 - 45 comments
Categories: election 2020, national, Nikki Kaye, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

And I thought last week was a bad week for National.

It looks like they are facing even more problems.  This morning in paywalled articles Bernard Orsman and Richard Harman have laid open a really messy situation relating to National’s Auckland Central candidate selection.

The basic issue is that instead of the usual five candidates being shortlisted National’s head office has chosen only two, National’s current Manurewa candidate Nuwanthie Samarakone and Emma Mellow, a communications manager with ANZ Bank.

Samarakone has support from head office, Mellow has local backing.  At the best of times this is a recipe for disaster

There are other disaffected potential candidates including Rob Thomas who was a very effective Waitemata local board member from 2016 to 2019 before retiring and who polled second in the 2016 local board election.  National is not that blessed with candidates that it can ignore someone like Thomas or slight him by not putting him up at least for pre selection.  And the rules seem clear.  If they have five acceptable candidates they have to select from that group.

I cannot imagine why head office would support Samarakone.  She is already National’s Manurewa candidate. If they did select her for Auckland Central then there would be a vacancy in Manurewa and given the timing it would be possible they would not be able to select a Manurewa candidate.  And helicoptering her in to what is already a difficult campaign for the right will not help their chances.

As a sign of a complete break down of discipline weaponised leaks to the media appear to be business as usual for National.  For instance this email from a disgruntled member was reported in the Herald:

“[T]his mucking around in Central by the supposed party leaders really pisses me off.

Why didn’t they just put up the top five candidates and let us choose the best one.”

Or this email sent last night by Samarakone to party members after a slightly compromising photo of her was circulated to party members which was also leaked, this time to Politik:

I understand that there are a few National Party members from other electorates who are unhappy with the Auckland Central selection process and have decided to attack the reputation of successful nominees through misrepresentation and untruths. I understand that some delegates have been sent a photo of me taken while I was competing in the fitness realm a few years ago, making utterly false and defamatory claims about what that photo represents.

I am always up front and transparent. Yes I am committed to being fit and healthy, and am proud of the discipline I bring to my work and my personal life. I was a ballet dancer for 17 years under the Royal Academy of Dancing (UK) and retired hurt. Fitness, dance, hiking across our beautiful New Zealand walks and general well-being is a huge part of my life. I am disciplined, fit, resilient and train hard for the events in which I have participated. I proudly own ail those experiences which have given me the strength, the resilience and the tough mindset to withstand the pressures of politics.

However I have no tolerance for people who seek to bring others down through personal attacks, and who damage the integrity of the National Party in the process.”

Messy, messy, messy. I can pretty confidently say that the National candidate whoever he or she is will have no chance.

This could bring up the interesting spectacle of traditional National voters contemplating a vote for Chloe Swarbrick.  Or they could vote Helen White’s way because of a perception that Chloe is too radical although to be frank I think Chloe is a very effective MP and a potential future leader of the Greens.  But whoever the next MP for Auckland Central is, it will not be a National MP.

45 comments on “National’s Auckland Central problem ”

  1. Anne 1

    The trouble with right wing parties is they tend to be 'top down' instead of 'bottom up' parties. In other words their policies and decision making comes mainly from those in powerful positions and are filtered down to the membership as a fait accompli.

    But this time the top dogs have tried to sidestep the normal selection process to suit their preferred outcome. Some members have chosen not to play ball.

    They might be compliant in other respects but messing with members’ personal political ambitions is not one of them.

    • Sacha 1.1

      The Nat party rules have allowed less head office involvement in electorate candidate selection than Labour's have. Hence why this is a bigger story on the right than it might seem. Goodfellow has some splaining to do.

      • Incognito 1.1.1

        I think National HQ is desperate to put a youngish ‘urban’ female candidate in Auckland Central and Manurewa is unwinnable. They must be hoping for a split vote allowing the Nat candidate to slip through. The Nat leadership probably also has data (internal polling?) and info (from Matty?) that grassroots members are not privy to. The Nat Party has always been about ‘do as you’re told’ by the ‘Boss’.

    • Nick 1.2

      Probably not that compliant in other areas such as donations either.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    National’s Manurewa, and would be Auck. Central candidate, Nuwanthie, comes from the “fitness realm” excellent…not quite the “overall wellness” or thinking straight realm though!

    From an outsiders perspective it looks like a basic–‘we gotta have a woman to go against Helen and Chloe’ type approach from Nat HQ.

    Selections can be tricky for all parties, particularly as the end of the list approaches. The Nats excel in going for ex coppers, mini authoritarians and provincial boofheads with few skills apart from being born into prominent tory families.

    One might think they would pay close attention though to what is possibly the headline seat, Northland notwithstanding, of the 2020 General Election. Their ex Deputy leader Kay’s footprints are still all around Freemans Bay!

  3. Gabby 3

    Got to wonder what other rules Goodfellas and his mob are playing fast and loose with.

  4. Also on interest is that former candidate Mark Thomas (1996 and 1999, plus local govt tilts) also sought nomination in first process. As did Sarah Trotman, current Waitemata local board member. But why were the two of them not allowed to proceed through?

  5. novacastrian 5

    "National voters contemplating a vote for Chloe Swarbrick"…

    Oh please Micky, enough already with the green delusions.

    Any true National voter will continue to vote National, regardless of the candidate. Any disenfranchised National are most likely to vote for the Labour candidate, whose shown to be a left leaning centralist.

    I can't envision any situation where a National voter is likely to go, "hmmm maybe I'm going to vote for the most extreme far left candidate just for shits and giggles".

    Do you honestly think voters of of this electorate, either Labour or National with million dollar plus real estate, and more swank European SUV's than you can poke a stick at, are seriously going to vote for a 23 yo kid telling them tax is love.

    • mickysavage 5.1

      If the "wrong" selection is made then I can imagine tribal nats thinking about who they are going to vote for.

      • froggleblocks 5.1.1

        Easy – no one. Or whoever the Act candidate is.

        This really is a very loopy and silly suggestion from yourself.

        • observer

          But the whole point of MMP is that people can choose their party for the nationwide election, and then pick a candidate who they think can do the best job for the local area. That's how Nikki Kaye kept the electorate, lots of non-Nats liked her.

          Happens all over the country, Lab/Nat MPs getting rewarded for their work. National party voters in Auck Central might like Helen or Chloe more than Jack Upp-Shambles from the Nats.

        • Incognito

          So, you think that savvy but disillusioned Nat voters in Auckland Central would rather waste their vote?

          • froggleblocks

            It'd be idiotic for savvy Nat voters to vote for their avowed opponent, especially in the off-chance that it lets Chloe win a seat, thus all-but-guaranteeing the Greens get into Parliament at the 2023, 2026 and 2029 elections as she's likely to become a future leader of the party and once she wins the seat is unlikely to lose it.

            This isn’t a case of a Nat voter holding their nose to vote for a Labour candidate, this is a Nat voter throwing out all their hold dear and voting for a Greens candidate, because they don’t like who National put in the seat. Surely they’d just vote Act or no-one, if they weren’t happy voting Labour.

            • Incognito

              Well, I don’t claim to be a savvy National voter in Auckland Central but if the goal is to keep the Greens out of Parliament then a vote for the Labour candidate could be less of a wasted vote than voting for the ACToid or not voting at all. Use your vote(s) wisely.

              • froggleblocks

                Yes I totally agree, which is why Micky's suggestion that because they were upset with the National party selection they would vote for Chloe makes no sense: they would vote for Labour, Act or no-one ahead of Chloe, IMO.

    • Sacha 5.2

      Never seen Swarbrick for longer than a soundbite, have you.

    • Incognito 5.3

      She’s 26 years of age. The mental picture that you conjure is off-putting.

    • observer 5.4

      " Any true National voter will continue to vote National, regardless of the candidate."

      I recommend you do some homework, to find out how wrong that statement is. Like everyone else, National voters can and do split their votes. That's how (e.g.) Stuart Nash is MP for Napier, even though National won the party vote.


      We've had MMP for 24 years.

  6. Dennis Frank 6

    National "has reopened the selection process, pushing back the date it will have a nominee by to August 10." https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300072522/national-party-admits-breaking-own-rules-while-trying-to-replace-nikki-kaye

    Badfella, "who was on the committee that broke the rules, rejected any allegation that this was due to any intentional manipulation of the process."

    ”In the case of Auckland Central nominations, the pre-selection committee, comprising a majority of local members, and chaired by the local electorate chair, voted unanimously to put forward two candidates to delegates,” Goodfellow said.

    “In so doing it did not strictly follow the letter of our rules. The pre-selection committee has now acknowledged that and rectified the issue.”

    Looks like Badfella was absent at the time of the decision. Okay, I'm being charitable. Could be he forgot the rule. Could be he remembered it, and hoped nobody else would.

    • Dennis Frank 6.1

      Another update: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12353188

      The pre-selection committee reconvened on Friday and short-listed three further candidates – Rob Thomas, Sarah Manley and Sang Cho – to meet the party rules which state five candidates should be shortlisted for delegates to elect a candidate. The Herald understands Manley withdrew from the race on Saturday.

      And more about the hooha going on in National re fitness. What puzzles me is why some Nats think female fitness is a problem. 🙄

      The fitness photo of Nuwanthie Samarakone posing in a leotard was posted by the candidate on her Facebook page but removed when she sought the North Shore nomination in March. A National Party member said "I must have received it at least eight times", saying it had been circulating to members since the North Shore candidate selection.

      • Incognito 6.1.1

        A dead cat dressed in a leotard must be a first, even for National. This story is having more lives legs than Judith chasing after missing billboards.

      • weka 6.1.2

        I'm guessing that there's been some comments on FB that misrepresent what the photo is.

        What puzzles me is why some Nats don't think sexism is a problem.

      • nzlemming 6.1.3

        They don't. It's an excuse because she's not white.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    However I have no tolerance for people who seek to bring others down through personal attacks, and who damage the integrity of the National Party in the process.

    I read the first part and wondered what she was doing in the National party.

    Then I read the second part and started laughing 😆

  8. weka 8

    Straight out incompetence, or they want a woman up against White and Swarbrick to lessen the chance of losing the seat? (or both).

  9. ianmac 9

    Aha. I have it. National wants Chloe to win the seat. That means that the Greens are in for sure. Judith can then use her winning eyebrows to coax Greens to share the Government on a cosy NAT-Green-ACT ticket. Fixed.

  10. Adrian 10

    Have you seen the photo in question? The first thing that came to mind is that here is someone who they think can replace Paula and can be groomed to take on Jacinda in 3 or 6 years time. Being Nats it is all about appearances, while the person in question is apparently quite intelligent, the Nats forget that Jacinda’s appeal is empathy, superb political skills and intelligence , the smile and attractive features are an add on but not the essence of her political appeal.
    They are getting so many things wrong on so many fronts, it is all knee-jerk reaction.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      National think that JA's appeal is only skin deep because they, themselves, are only skin deep.

  11. Peter 11

    It isn't right for people to attack the prospective Auckland Central candidate for her fitness regimen or her looks.


    In her fair criticism though she shows she is deluded: "However I have no tolerance for people who seek to bring down others through personal attacks, and who damage the integrity of the National Party in the process."

    Let's not talk about her appearance, let's talk about the other important little thing, the "integrity of the National Party." What?

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      She wasn't concerned about the personal attacks unless they damaged the National Party. In other words, if the people in the National Party doing the personal attacks got caught then she had a problem with them.

    • observer 11.2

      I couldn't give a toss about some photo, and I'd be appalled if National's opponents were using it to do the dirty politics. But this is all blue-on-blue, and it shatters the only tactic Collins & co have … chuck enough mud around so the public are confused and lazy commentators say "both sides!, both sides!".

      Sorry Judith, it's your side. You called it bullying last week, what are you calling it today?

  12. Sacha 12

    Yep, party hierarchy pushing a parachute candidate according to that Herald story. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12353188

    The member said the pre-selection of Samarakone, who stood unsuccessfully for the North Shore and Takanini electorates before being chosen as National's candidate for Manurewa, was being pushed by Goodfellow and Hunt [presumably the regional chair though not otherwise mentioned].

    Last week, a source said Mellow won the backing of electorate delegates at the pre-selection meeting, while Samarakone had the backing of party board delegates.

    Another party member said: "There has been a wilful disregard of the rules by the president and regional chair. Everyone is in shock and extremely unhappy with the manipulation of the process."

    A third source said the fact members were being undisciplined and leaking material to the Herald "gives you an insight into how angry people are".

    • Peter 12.1

      "A third source said the fact members were being undisciplined and leaking material to the Herald "gives you an insight into how angry people are".

      The wider party leaks just like the caucus? Heck, that's a surprise

  13. novacastrian 13

    Mock me as you will, but at the end of the day, all the Greens will achieve in Auckland Central, is to probably gift the seat to the Nationals.

    The Greens may succeed in gaining a good number of votes in the seat, but this will primarily come at the expense of the Labour candidate.

    So it really comes down to who you want representing the seat, Labour or National, as a vote for Greens is effectively a vote for National.

  14. Scott 14

    I want to see Chloe Swarbrick win Auckland Central, but not from Labour handing it to her or doing a deal.

    Labour can never consider doing a deal because unlike National, who can only work with one part, we would be faced with the option in so many electorates.

    But there shouldn't be a reason why Swarbrick can't go out and win it the way Kaye won it from Tizard.

    And if the response, is oh but not enough people are interested in the Greens, then that's the problem they have – they need to meet their electorate rather than expect something to be given to them

    Just go an win it the way electorate MPs used to.

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