Should National compete in local-body elections?

Andrew Vance reports on the calls within grassroots National to start competing in local-body elections: Quote:

The National Party is divided over whether to run a candidate against Phil Goff in next year’s Auckland mayoralty race.

The row is pitting grassroots members against the party hierarchy as they head into their annual conference this weekend.

Members at the recent Northern regional conference voted overwhelming for a remit to considering [sic] standing local candidates under the National Party brand.

And all members will be asked to vote on the idea at Saturday’s Sky City conference in Auckland. Insiders say the issue is being “hotly debated.”

One insider said: “There’s lots of rumours flying among members that Goff isn’t?going to run and Labour will put up someone popular like Helen Clark. And even if he doesn’t run they believe he is really vulnerable and a good centre-right challenger could do very well.”?End quote.

The problem is finding a good centre-right candidate. The last effort, by Michelle Boag, ended up with a complete twat who couldn’t utter a sentence without an ‘um’ in the middle of it. For all the National party workers involved in her campaign it was an utter failure. It turns out that to get elected you need to do a bit more than her preferred method of career advancement inside Telecom.?Quote:

National MP for Papakura Judith Collins is a favourite among members, but isn’t thought to be interested. Former finance minister Steven Joyce is also on members’ wish lists. The party faithful?are also keen to harness National’s considerable fundraising power.??End quote.

A delegation tried to convince Judith Collins recently that it would be a good idea for her to stand for mayor. My understanding is they were given a very polite ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response.?Quote:

The regional remit passed with only two dissenting votes, and delegates are now gearing up for a tussle.

But most MPs and the party’s?board are opposed to the idea, because?there is no obvious?candidate for mayor and?a risk of damaging the?brand with infighting.

One MP told?Stuff: “The personalities are so different?and quite entrenched in their local area. Trying to bring them together immediately is too difficult.

“Our brand… is one around unity and discipline. If you?had National Party city councillors running off and weren’t under the control of the parliamentary whip, there’s a risk there.

“And, if National just tried to launch in there and not everyone is on board, you’d get a split and National wouldn’t do well – and that’s only a year before the general election. That’s also a risk.”?End quote.

It sounds suspiciously like one MP I know who thinks that having National-branded local-body candidates running around in “his” electorate would be tantamount to fostering a challenge against him. I told him that if he was any good as an MP it shouldn’t concern him.?Quote:

The MP said National’s board aren’t actively looking for a mayoral candidate. “If there wasn’t a strong candidate with a personality that could raise a lot of money, Goff would still win.”

Even if the remit passes, the idea is unlikely to go anywhere before next year’s local body elections.

“Like with every remit, we go away and do our homework and assess the right way to implement what the members want. It is a good way for members to express their views, but we do have an established understanding that remits don’t just automatically become policy.”?End quote.

There is a fair bit of rumour-mongering going on here and no one is going to put their hand up until the party sort themselves out. Considering they haven’t even reviewed last year’s loss and couldn’t give Maurice Williamson an answer on branding, I suspect that, yet again, it will be a dog’s breakfast of competing tickets that will hand victory to the left wing just like last time.?Quote:

There was a half-hearted attempt to establish a centre-right group under the Auckland Future brand in 2016 – and tensions surfaced immediately.?Auckland MP Nikki?Kaye, former presidents Sue Wood and Michelle Boag, and campaigner Hamish Price were behind the move – but there was little support from the caucus and party board.?End quote.

Little wonder it failed then. Those three couldn’t organise a root in a brothel.?Quote:

The campaign wasn’t linked to Vic Crone’s failed bid for the mayoralty in 2016.?End quote.

Oh yes it was. The campaign team was filled with little acolytes of Boag, run by National people and supported by the president who would chauffeur Vic Crone around to National party meetings; events in local electorates were hosted by National MPs.?Quote:

And they were pitted against the right-leaning Communities and Residents group – who fielded two successful candidate. One of whom was Desley Simpson, wife of party president Peter Goodfellow.?End quote.

That was hilarious. At the same time as Desley Simpson was running for?Communities and Residents her husband was driving Vic Crone around and turning up at Auckland Future events.?Quote:

Vic Crone with National party president Peter Goodfellow

Just one of the Auckland Future?candidates, Denise Krum, won a seat and she was already a sitting councillor. The centre-left won 11 seats, taking the majority – and also got control of Wellington council.

Goodfellow did not respond to a request for comment. End quote.

Of course Goodfellow didn’t comment: he doesn’t have John Key or Bill English telling him what to think and say any more.

The party need to wrest control back from the caucus. They’ve had it too good for too long and their vested interests are harming the party long term.

Phil Goff is vulnerable, with recent polling showing him on a favourability rating of -23%, down from +10% a year ago.