Some concerning reports have emerged about Paul Eagle’s mayoral campaign.
This week there have been reports that he snubbed a Labour Council candidate while endorsing a right wing candidate. And that he has been working behind the scenes supporting a team of independents.
The snubbing incident was reported by Erin Gourley at Stuff:
Paul Eagle is in backtrack mode after breaking party rules by failing to endorse a Labour candidate and Wellington City councillor.
At a candidate meeting on Tuesday night, Labour-endorsed mayoral candidate Eagle was asked who he would like to work with. He spoke highly of independent councillor Diane Calvert – he then paused, looked over at Labour councillor Rebecca Matthews and said the rest was up to voters.
He later backtracked. “I could have been clearer about my support for Rebecca at the Khandallah event last night but honestly, I assumed it was a given – I’m a Labour-endorsed mayoral candidate and she’s a Labour candidate,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
One should never read anything into one incident. But a separate report that Eagle is supporting independents is of major concern.
From Marc Daalder at Newsroom:
Independent council candidates running against Labour candidates say Labour MP and Wellington mayoral hopeful Paul Eagle has been giving them campaign advice.
Eagle, who is running as an independent but has the endorsement of the Labour Party, helped councillor Diane Calvert run advice sessions for first-time independent candidates, according to attendees. Two candidates said the meetings could be described as a “study group”.
Eagle denied to Newsroom he had ever given campaign advice to independents running against Labour candidates.
“I was invited to meet for informal coffee meetings with people who were considering running and to share my vision for Wellington,” he said. “I happily shared my experiences from 2010 to 2017 as a councillor and nearly 15 years as a council officer with them (and others).”
Independent candidates also told Newsroom that Eagle had encouraged them to run after Labour candidates had already been selected in their wards, with one saying he had been “shoulder-tapped” by the mayoral frontrunner – something Eagle also denied.
For weeks, local Labour members have privately worried Eagle is assembling an “alternative ticket” of independents aligned against housing intensification and cycleways. In the wake of a Q+A poll showing Eagle in a virtual deadlock with Greens-endorsed Tory Whanau, as well as an incident on Tuesday in which Eagle appeared to publicly endorse the independent Calvert over a Labour opponent, those concerns are now being shared more widely.
At a candidates’ event in Khandallah on Tuesday evening, a Labour activist asked Eagle and Whanau which candidates in the Wharangi/Onslow-Western ward they most wanted to see on council. Eagle reportedly backed Calvert by name, before saying the rest was up to the voters.
Eagle has since backed Labour Councillor and candidate Rebecca Matthews explicitly.
He wants to go back to basics and reprioritise expenditure to support his version of the three r’s that he calls the four p’s, pools, pipes, potholes and playgrounds. He wants master planning of the city and the libraries to be open on Sundays. He likes cultural events. He wants to “create a world-class arts precinct that connects our key cultural venues – from the Embassy, the new convention centre Tākina, the St James, Opera House, Gryphon Theatre, the Michael Fowler Centre and the Town Hall. The precinct will boast a dedicated walkway that tells the story of these venues and of our city.”
He also wants to “deliver on Te Ngakau Civic Square by leveraging private sector expertise and using the City Development Authority to enable mixed use in the Square, with retail, hospitality, offices and apartments to complement civic uses.” It is not a simple job to allow commercial interests to inhabit public spaces without detracting for the public nature of the space.
His website has more recently added policies on climate change which are OK but in terms of all important resource he apepars to want to rely on Central Government funding.
In terms of walking and cycling he proposes the establishment of an “integrated public transport network so that Wellingtonians have access to high quality public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure, along with roads for private transport”. He has previously said that Wellington City has an unhealthy obsession with cycleways. His language suggests that he does not want to convert roads into walkways or cycleways.
There is a lot to unpick from recent events. I suspect that the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party will be looking at this.