Drop kick campaign manager tries explaining why he lost two seats

You have to laugh when a losing campaign manager starts explaining away why he lost the only two campaigns where sitting councillors got rinsed.

You can laugh even harder when he tries to explain it all away by using terms like “post-truth politics” which only political tragics know what it even means.

Losing sucks. But when you do, I believe it pays not to disappear into the night, nor to sit and lick your wounds claiming that you were hard done by. The results are what they are and in an election you must respect the decision of the people. I do so without ill feeling or regret. That said, post analysis is important and so I?d like to share my thoughts about the shock results on campaigns for which I was responsible.

In June I severed my links with the media world to take on the role of campaign manager for three sitting councillors seeking re-election: Calum Penrose, Penny Webster and Sir John Walker. Sir John, who has Parkinson?s Disease, needed to show voters that despite his illness he was still fit for the job. I produced a ?hearts and minds? video and radio campaign so people could see and hear the man and know he was still fighting fit for the role. He was successfully re-elected on Saturday.

John Walker wasn’t re-elected because of some flash videos on social media which Hamish Coleman-Ross claims…he won because of name recognition.

The other two were a little different, mainly because when it came to being councillors they were exceptionally good at their jobs. The strategy was simple: campaign on the results delivered. The list of achievements for these two was immense. Calum was responsible for taking 158 bylaws from all the amalgamated councils and simplifying them down to 20. The stand out was the ?dangerous dogs? bylaw, supported by an amnesty wherein owners could have their dogs de-sexed, chipped, registered and even provided with a muzzle for a mere $25. The response was so successful that central government used it as a blueprint for its own nationwide ?dangerous dog? law.

In July this year, the bylaws review programme Calum led was named supreme winner at the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) awards. Other achievements included successfully advocating for laws to be changed so that police can now be present on trains and securing funding to have the Takanini interchange widened.

Penny also had big achievements on the transport front. She was able to secure the Matakana Link road to greatly assist the traffic flow around Warkworth and pushed for more money to seal roads ? then delivered in the form of $10 million over three years, up from an original $1 million per year. She even found time to sort out badly designed roundabouts and get more funding for rural fire service, amongst many other issues big and small.

Whatever. No one cares about the minutiae that he has gone into. Calum Penrose ignore ratepayers in Arkles Bay when he voted to overturn a 5-year ban on set nets in the bay. I was glad to see him rinsed. Penny Webster is just a disingenuous trollop. They both voted for rates increases. They got rinsed, it’s that simple even a political retard like Hamish Two-Fathers should be able to grasp.

All of us on the Penrose/Webster team agreed that it was a matter of positively promoting their achievements as evidence that they were doing the job they were elected to do. We used all the platforms available to us ? print, radio, digital ? to promote their work, thinking that if they?d achieved that much then they would easily retain their positions.

We were very, very wrong.

Yes, you were.

Our opponents focused their campaign on rates rises and the location of the spending. For Greg Sayers in Rodney the catchcry was ?bring your rates home?, alluding to the argument that rates were being siphoned off and spent on central city projects such as at the Central Rail Link. In Papakura/Manurewa Daniel Newman campaigned with an ?oppose 9.9% rate increases? slogan.

Simple messages that resonate.?When Penrose boycotted the Papakura Business Association’s meet the candidates meeting, Hamish Two-Fathers went and recorded it. The question needs to be asked of him: Why didn’t he get his candidate to front?the public? This guy is the worst campaign manager bar whoever ran Auckland Future.

I?think he lost because he had dud candidates who ran up against good ones. He’s just lucky that the bakery intern story never ran. He got hammered, Daniel ‘Vlad’ Newman pounded even John Walker and Greg Sayers got 3000 more votes than Penny in a single seat ward.

The only surprising thing was that a council with an approval rating in the teens didn’t see more councillors getting tipped out.

Now for the big whinge.

The lessons to be learned here are twofold. Firstly, Auckland Council do not communicate their achievements in an effective manner and their relationship with community media is poor to non-existent. Secondly, the strong anti-Council sentiment has been fuelled by the inability of leadership to rally the troops and get strong public buy-in on the city?s many projects. This may change with a new mayor who has campaigned on changing the culture of Council, but the election also illustrated bigger challenges that all politicians now face.

Worldwide, we?ve entered an era of ?post-truth politics?, and it seems that local government is not immune. The campaigns of Penny Webster and Calum Penrose were neither lazy or underfunded but they told a story that people didn?t want to hear. We certainly countered the accusations that were levelled at us but then that?s exactly what anyone would have expected. Had there been more independent analysis of the candidates by the media, the lies, half-truths and misinformation would have been exposed. But that didn?t happen.

As we look to the general election next year it is crucial that independent analysis of policies and performance is separated from conspiracy and rhetoric. The power of post-truth politics has reared its head in this local election and as a result two of the city?s hardest working and most results-driven councillors are now on the sidelines. Should we have attacked our opponents more directly? Maybe we should have made wild promises and pledged to dangle the CEO from the top of the Auckland Council tower until he coughed up those secret budgets. But no, we stuck to the facts.

It might be naive to think that the truth will win out, but it?s something I deeply believe. In coming to terms with the result, all the candidates I represented say they wouldn?t have changed a thing about the way they campaigned. They depart council politics with their reputations fully intact.

Blah, blah, blah. I think Daniel Newman would have wanted Penrose to fight back so he could have bashed him even harder. Bleating on about “post-truth politics” is just wankery in the extreme. Politics isn’t that hard, in reality, it is brutal, nasty and simple and those messages are what wins, not nuanced fact-based weasel words.

Penrose got rinsed because he is a cock and Webster got rinsed?because she is arrogant and up herself. The simple, brutal facts are Hamish Two-Fathers got rinsed as a campaign manager because he is a political retard and his candidates were dud compared to who rinsed them.

Politics is a professional game, played by professionals and it is no place for enthusiastic amateurs or losers. Go hard or go home.


– The Spinoff