Two further candidates for National’s leadership have been announced.
Yesterday Mark Mitchell said he wanted the top job. He botched the announcement though and showed some difficulty counting to two. For his sake I hope it is not reflective of his current support.
Can you sum up your leadership in one word? "Strong leadership". That's two… "Um, ok, leadership" – Mark Mitchell
— Jo Moir (@jo_moir) February 19, 2018
He has a dubious past. He worked providing some sort of security services in Iraq. Make of that what you will. And he has rather strong links to Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk which he now wants us all to forget.
David Fisher said this about Mitchell in 2014:
That was early 2012. In Dirty Politics, it is alleged that during the previous election, Slater was working with political adviser Simon Lusk to swing a National Party candidate selection to pick his man.
That was the Rodney electorate and his man was Mark Mitchell, the former dog handler turned private guard who enjoyed enthusiastic backing from Slater through his Whale Oil blog which highlighted only the negative aspects of his opponents.
Lusk and Slater wanted to step up their ‘Candidates’ College’, at which they charged political aspirants for lessons on how to win in politics. They had a vision for the future. In February 2012, a document written by Simon Lusk charted out a plan to entrench the right-of-centre ‘Fiscal Conservatives’ for years to come. It involved “taking over the public service” and the “blackballing of current National MPs”.
A month later, National Party board minutes show they saw the danger coming.
The minutes record “a disturbing conversation … with Simon Lusk that highlighted his motivations and a very negative agenda for the party”. His agenda posed a “serious risk to the party” and “light needs to be shed on these issues with key influencers within the party”.
And then this morning Steven “$11.7 billion hole” Joyce announced his candidacy for the top spot. He is still utterly convinced that he is right about this claim even though no economist of any repute has backed him up. He reckons that unnamed public servants have been told to cut back on spending. This is despite Crown income trending upward. He has never let reality get in the way of his political rhetoric in the past and clearly is not going to change.
To be frank I am really underwhelmed with the candidates. They are all varying levels of meh. It is no wonder that Joyce and Mitchell have thrown their hats into the ring. They have probably been utterly underwhelmed by the performances of Adams and Bridges and terrified, at least on the part of Joyce, by the prospect of Collins becoming leader.
National’s reputation as a united disciplined party is going to take a battering over the next week. And the winner may in the future regret that they succeeded.