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.