Quitters need not apply

The race is on for a new National Party President, kind of. The National Party has called for nominations for the Board of the Party. The President is then selected from the successful Board members by the successful Board members. Gone are the days of the Slater vs Boag true presidential style race (and marketing and lobbying that goes with it). Or have they?

I understand that there are murmurings about the hallowed halls and amongst the party flock that Wira Gardiner is the anointed one (by Key) – at least that’s what his backers will tell you. Wira Gardiner is furiously trying to make friends with lots of party apparatchiks on Facebook and inviting them to lunchs and dinners in a desperate bid to get himself elected to the board.

I am just a little concerned that Wira is even seen to be a viable candidate to be a Board member, let alone the next National Party President.

  1. Wira is the classic fair-weather friend. Wira is the man who has quit the Party numerous times. Off the top of my head I can think of 2002 (when he realised that English wasn’t after all the friend to Maori he’d set him up to be (the positioning that arguably contributed to the 2002 crushing defeat)), then he quit again when Brash continued the promotion of “One standard of citizenship for all”
  2. Wira is seriously conflicted. His wife Hekia Parata is an MP. If he is President his role is first to the Party, to the membership and the organization – not to the Parliamentary arm. Also, any time Wira flies with his wife then how are we to know if he is flying as a spouse or if he is flying as President of the Party. I can see the potential wrangles with Parliamentary Services abound already.

Throwing your toys and having conflicts of interest aren’t a good look for any prospective board member let alone the President. The National Party has traditionally eschewed Presidents considered to have close links with caucus preferring instead to have an arms length relationship between the aprty and caucus.

My Wellington spies tell me that Wira’s team is suggesting that the Prime Minister would back him to be President if he makes it to the Board table, and that the PM himself will nominate Wira.

Well, in some ways I can see why John Key might do this. It’s certainly a great way to ensure that the Parliamentary wing of the party is stronger than the membership and organizational arm. The conflict of having a wife as an MP ensures that Wira will put the interests of the MPs ahead of the membership, or at least that will be the perception. And, as we all know perception plays a crucial role in politics.

I still think the greatest risk of National Party members even electing Wira for the Board is that he’ll quit when the going gets tough, or if he disagrees with a policy direction. How many National Party grassroots members and activists have seen the Party through the good times and the bad? Well, guess what? Wira hasn’t and doesn’t do that. He’s your fair weather friend.

When you vote for your board members list Wira Gardnier dead last, just like he has rated the party when things got tough.