Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, March 21st, 2010 - 52 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags: C&R, fran o'sullivan, jenny shipley, john banks, len brown, Rodney Hide
For several months, my fellow author on The Standard, Sam Cash, has been covering the opening moves in the Supercity mayoralty race, particularly the problems faced by John Banks. Sam has gone so far as to say that the Right (the Citizens and Ratepayers group, effectively National) would soon look to switch their support from Banks to someone else.
As far back as November, Sam gave us the tip that Jenny Shipley would be chosen as an alternative Right candidate to challenge Banks.
Fran O’Sullivan has now confirmed that Shipley was approached but turned down the offer (she’s looking at being unelected dictator of Canterbury’s water supply for the next four years instead) and that a sizable faction of the Right is still looking for an alternative to Banks, preferably a woman.
So why has the Right gone dark on Banks? Quite simply, as O’Sullivan admits, because he won’t win. None of the polls have put him ahead of Len Brown. Most have put him a long way behind. Banks simply does not represent most Aucklanders. And Brown has the advantage (or should have the advantage) of support from Left-leaning mayors in Waitakere and the North Shore.
Moreover, Banks has the burden of being associated with the undemcoratic and rushed process of forcing the unwanted Supercity on the people of Auckland. He is the chosen candidate of the very people who are creating the Supercity. Rodney Hide has gone so far as to label him a “super mayor” – an outrage in itself, the Minister responsible for creating the supercity also endorsing a candidate.
From the beginning it was clear that the Supercity was being created for the Right, by the Right. The system has been gerrymandered from the start to give more voting power to right-wing constituencies. When they thought their candidate would be super-mayor, the Right were planning to make that office all-powerful.
But things have changed now. Brown is out in front. Any late-comer Right candidate is more likely to split support from Banks than Brown. If Brown keeps it together, he is odds-on favourite.
So, we’re seeing these late changes in tactic from the Right. Trying to get in a woman in the cynical belief that a woman will draw left-leaning votes. Making the ‘council-controlled organisation’ that will run Auckland’s water and roading anything but council-controlled. Refusing to let right-leaving areas of Rodney, Papakura, and Franklin stay out of the Supercity despite overwhelming public opposition.
Gone are their hubristic dreams of John Banks ruling Auckland for business with a free hand. Now their attention is on last-ditch bids to stop Brown or constrain him once he wins.
All in all, this just confirms what a cynical and politically-driven process this whole Supercity process has been. It is undemocratic to its core. It is not about ‘growth’ or creating a better city. It is about securing power (and, thereby, wealth) for the city’s right-wing elite.
Now their plans are falling apart around them. It’s fun to watch.