In Christchurch

I am in Christchurch for the National Party conference. This conference is the first after crushing Labour at the election and also the opportunity for the party to select new board members.

I am a voting delegate and so thought it might be useful to put down my thoughts about the eight candidates for the five board positions available, then to look at the possibilities for President.

Alistair Bell – Successful Northern Regional Chair. Deserves to be on the board on that basis alone. He has done the hard yards in the trenches and fought battles against the odds. Could be a good solid loyal President who won’t cause the party embarrassment. Has sent me a personal email and phoned as well.

Scott Simpson – Another successful battler, brought up politically in marginal electorates and fighting in Auckland when National struggled there against a strong Labour machine. Has sent me a personal email and discussed my question raised raised previously.

Kate Hazlett –  Another battler, from the South Island, oscillates between positions in a seemingly random random but is likely to get elected because apparently the South island is ranking her first. Perhaps a bit too close to Bill English to be safe as a board member. She did email me her detail but it was a general email to a cast of thousands.

Pat Seymour – Perhaps the toughest, roughest candidate and that is a compliment not meant to be a criticism. Pat knows how to fight elections and in tough Labour areas, plus she wins. She calls a spade and spade and deserves her board position. I have had an extensive and wide ranging discussion with Pat on her candidature for the board.

Grant McCallum – I’ve heard he is good but as I haven’t even had so much as an email from him I know little more than heresay. The hard yards that he has done in the past will probably get him over the line.

Keith Catchpole – From the state of his rambling and ill-formatted email to me as a delegate he doesn’t warrant any further mention.

Wira Gardiner – Wira is yesterdays man who has led a life of general mediocrity or maori indulgence. He is no more qualified for a board position that he is for the plumb board of Te Papa. Perhaps though there is a lesson in this for people wanting board positions handed out by the National party, throw your toys and be a fair weather friend or an enemy and you will be rewarded. He made the fatal error of sending me his guff twice and on the second one including over 200 other email recipients addresses.

Bruce Mills – Starting any speech you are about to give with an apology for not being agood public speaker is probably not a winning strategy. He hasn’t even bothered to send me an email.

So given that summary at the moment, and I am open to lobbying (Gin and tonic with a slice of Lime) my preference for the five would be;

Alistair Bell, Pat Seymour, Kate Hazlett, Scott Simpson, Grant McCallum. Bruce Mills and Keith Catchpole aren’t even in the running and Wira Gardiner should be ranked dead last.

The Presidency

Interesting machinations are afoot here. We have Scott Simpson and Peter Goodfellow trying desperately to spike each others campaigns over a woman. Roger Bridge is making a tilt but may have made some strategic errors in the last 24 hours. Having the backing of the South Island these days simply isn’t enough. That means that there is a real possibility of a third player coming through the middle and grabbing the presidency because all the others cancel each other. My preference for President would be Alistair Bell. i’ve know Alistair for more than 30 years since I was a kid. He is a loyal servant of the party and extremely competent, witness the astounding result of keeping Labour down to only 8 seats in his region and from the harbour bridge north there isn’t a Labour MP to be seen. He has been regional chair for sometime and has brought in star performs like Sam Lotu iiga, Paula Bennett and Jonathan Coleman.

I will be live blogging and tweeting from the conference when allowed to under the rules and hope to have the first interview with the new president once announced.