Aaron Bhatnagar

Potential Tamaki candidates

Names are now starting to pop up for the rushed Tamaki selection. Names mentioned to the Whale, or mentioned in the media include:

Denise Krum – A more recently established National Party identity, Krum is struggling to make headway with some delegates, who see her as “nice, but not up to it”. Krum is 69 on National’s list, and on current polling stands a good chance of becoming a list Member of Parliament, certainly if there are some mid-term retirements anyway.

Karen Rolleston – An established National party identity, though not a resident of Tamaki, or anywhere near it, Rolleston has some X-Factor that makes her a worthy consideration for delegates. She presents well in person, though narrowly lost in Palmerston North which was not bad for a Jafa.

Alfred Ngaro – Ngaro was catapulted into the National list as one of the fresh new “diversity” faces, and will certainly be in Parliament. He was a good (but not great) candidate in the 2010 council elections, standing as a C&R candidate but losing the winnable Maungakiekie ward contest to Richard Northey. A Cook Islands Maori, Ngaro is educated, affable and presents well. Big things are expected of Ngaro, more than just a token cabinet ministry role.

Suzy Clarkson – ex Prime TV news presenter, and star of fitness videos back in the 1990s. Now reportedly working for Coca Cola as their public affairs director. Her National Party background is unknown. In this morning’s Herald, Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett is reportedly backing her, though this is not necessarily a useful thing.

D. Mark Harrison – A social media entrepeneur and Hobbit helper (he organised the marches for the Hobbit movie last year), Harrison is regularly found in the company of lingerie models and bikini pageant contestants. Fancies himself as a bit of a playboy. He would make Alasdair Thompson seem like a reasonable progressive if chosen. However, he presents well and his Kings College persona can be turned on at whim, making him a possible outside runner. His National Party background is unknown.

Aaron Bhatnagar – a friend of the Whale and established National Party identity. Missed out in Botany and Epsom. Needs more polish and some weight loss if he is to stand in another selection, but capable of being a strong MP if selected. Has been quoted as saying he is undecided about standing, and has already been the victim of an smear by the usual dark forces that congregate around Auckland National Party selections.

UPDATE: Aaron has confirmed with me today that he will NOT be seeking selection in Tamaki.

Mark Thomas – An established National Party identity and former candidate. Has a number of weaknesses that would cause National risk, including the fact he would cause a by-election if selected (he’s currently the spokesman for invisibility on the Orakei local board), comes across as effeminate, and is in a de facto relationship with his partner (Tamaki would be hostile to anything other than married). A public relations practitioner, famously once the paid PR stooge of Mark Hotchin, New Zealand’s second most hated man after Clayton Weatherston. He can’t have been that good allowing his client to be so branded. This also makes him a prime target for Labour, and would be viewed suspiciously by the St Heliers villagers who lost money in Hanover. His missus is said to be far more capable as a potential candidate.

Cameron Brewer – the rock star in the room. Is playing a media tease at the moment about his interest in Tamaki, but is the best known of the likely nominees, has a good National Party pedigree and is a monstrously effective media talent. Brewer would also cause a by-election if selected, which would no doubt have the blessing of Len Brown. Brewer is well advised by his old teammates in the National Party research unit in the Shipley years. May be seen as weak on policy by some delegates, but would probably be forgiven this as he would be incredibly effective in opposition when the Key government eventually does go out. Conceivably the only person in this lineup who could make cabinet prior to the 2014 elections, and if the whispers are correct, would.

David Williams – the ex headmaster of Saint Kentigern College around ten years ago has recently moved back to New Zealand after leading a school in Australia. His National Party background is unknown, though is well connected into the church community. Would probably have the support of the Peachey faction, who would like his strong education credentials and his socially conservative views (he is also a Presbyterian Minister). He would be expected to present very well.

Tamaki Contenders

The tipline has been running exceptionally hot over the last week, firstly with vested interest trying to get this blog to stick the knife into Allan Peachey. Now it is the same vested interests wanting to get their candidates promoted.

As with all selections I will take a neutral stance and not endorse any candidate. I did however recommend voting against Brent Robinson in Rodney but that was because of his skullduggery.

Cameron Brewer:?The Mayor of Newmarket. Long time Whaleoil friend and effective campaigner who won a seat on the Supercity council. A good prospect and a man who is well suited to retail politics. May not be able to justify leaving council but is probably more likely to succeed in central government than local government.

Denise Krum:?Former United Future chairmwoman and daughter of former National MP Graeme Lee. Did not make it through the preselection for Botany and was unsuccessful in Epsom. Probably does not present well enough to win a hotly contested selection in one of the bluest seats in the country

Aaron Bhatnagar: ?Another long time Whaleoil friend and former Auckland City Councillor. Unfortunately for Aaron he has lost selections in Botany where he was an outsider and Epsom where he was favourite, and despite years of loyal service to National and C&R he may not make it in Tamaki. Already the victim of a nasty smear that Scoop has thoughtfully corrected.

Mark Thomas: ?The man shafted by Jim Bolger in 1996 when he was National?s candidate in Wellington Central. Currently on the Orakei Local Board where the chair is the current paramour of Party President Peter Goodfellow. A man who has done a fantastic job running Sam Lotu-Iiga?s campaigns in Maungakiekie and has a reputation as a loyal party servant.

Karen Rolleston: ?Highly regarded woman from Helensville who was narrowly unsuccessful in Palmerston North and beaten by the skullduggery in Rodney before the second selection process had began. In a party lacking women MPs of merit Karen is a strong possibility although will struggle with the parochial nature of Tamaki electorate.

The only candidate that has already declared is Denise Krum. The others may or may not run. Good luck to all who are brave enough to run for public office, and hopefully this will be a fair contest.

Finally, all National Party members should remember Allan Peachey has been forced out by ill health and he deserves our sympathy, as well as our thanks as well as our attention. Too often the National Party thinks ?The King is Dead, Long Live the King? and deserts those who have served when they need compassion.

Mallard defamatory and racist

Trevor Mallard talking out of assTrevor Mallard can’t lie straight in bed. He is crippled after all. He has to resort to lies, innuendo and now racism so desperate is he to prove that the Gnomes Underpants Stealing plan for election victory is working.

Today he really goes all out and defames me, Simon Lusk and insults and defames Aaron Bhatnagar for being an Indian amongst other things. I wonder what Labour’s Indian supporters think about his racial slurs, and I wonder what Phil Goff’s good friend Neelam Choudary has to say about it too.

I’m of a mind to stick his fucking bike race up his arse because of his constant lies and now his racist attitudes.

It certainly looks like the Buggers Muddle has been leaking and lying to Mallard again, in the hope that their favourite will get through.

There will be more on this later, who in National has been leaking to Labour and to Mallard, worse been lying about it too.

Mallard lies

Epsom update

Pre-Selection was held today and there are 5 names through.

Aaron Bhatnagar, Richard Simpson, Ewen MacQueen, Denise Krum and Paul Goldsmith.National still has antiquated rules regarding campaigning online and so personal websites are offline. They really need to get with the real word.

Richard Simpson must have got board approval since he has only been a member for a few short weeks. Could be interesting watching to see if he manages to distract Aaron Bhatnagar. His opposition to C&R in his past and his short time as a member will probably count against him. Many of the delegates are current C&R members and well remember his campaigns against them and his support of Dick Hubbard in council.

Paul Goldsmith isn’t doing himself any favours with delegates by running around whining and carping about other candidates cottage meetings, demanding reciprocal meetings and complaining incessantly to the Regional Chair about silly stuff.

Ewan Macqueen will be the first to drop out I’d say, with his Christian Heritage background he is pretty much electoral poison.

I’d say this is a two way race at the moment between Denise and Aaron, with Aaron being the firm favourite.

If Aaron stays focused and doesn’t do anything silly then I’d say he will win this selection. I will maintain a close eye to see that the Bugger’s Muddle doesn’t get involved in any skullduggery like they did in Rodney and in Coromandel.

Epsom Selection Update

sacrificial-lambRegular readers of this blog know that I do not endorse candidates for selection, and encourage the party members to make the selection they think is best for their electorate. The one exception was the Skullduggery in Rodney where this blog opposed the fundy take over of the party in the form of Brent Robinson, and endorsed all four other candidates.

In Epsom National is looking for someone to take one for the team and lose to Banksie so ACT survive. They would be hard pressed to beat Banksie anyway, as Epsom is his home territory, and he has won a lot of votes in the electorate in local body elections.

At this stage there are four known candidates to be sacrificial lamb, Aaron Bhatnagar, Denise Krum, Mike Loftus and Paul Goldsmith.

Aaron Bhatnagar

Aaron is an old mate and been a loyal servant to C&R, ACT and National.


  • Former Councillor
  • Former Epsom Electorate Chair
  • Generous donor to National Party causes
  • Former Young Nat
  • Good campaigner who ran a strong direct mail campaign to get three C&R councillors elected in the Hobson Ward in 2007, including Epsom selection opponent Paul Goldsmith
  • Staunch right winger who will not be afraid to stand up in caucus and stick it to the wets
  • Can self fund his campaign and probably drop a few quid in the distressingly empty tin of the party president


Paul Goldsmith

A serious, sober individual who won all manner of awards when he was at Grammar at the same time as this blogger. Failed to translate this wonkishness to mastery of the poker table. Not that electable due to an unfriendly personality, so the ideal candidate for National when all they want is someone to take a dive.


  • Former councillor, elected together with Aaron Bhatnagar in 2007
  • Long time party servant, running in Maungakiekie in 2005
  • Written lots of books for wealthy people so should be able to touch them up for a campaign donation
  • Black belt at some martial art meaning he can carve up annoying constituents whinging about not enough cycleways or wanting money for Gay Pride Marches


  • Extremely limited interpersonal skills making it difficult to convince people to vote for him
  • Lost to Cathy Casey in the Eden Albert Roskill ward at the Supercity elections

Denise Krum

Denise is the daughter of former National MP Graeme Lee (who defected to Christian Democrats), and former United Future party president. She did not make the final five in the Botany selection in January.


  • A woman, and word from inside the beehive is that Captain Panic Pants has ordered a big shipment of antacids for when Labour start attacking National for being a cockfest. Only one of the 2011 intake is guaranteed to be a woman, with Maggie Barry in North Shore. The other safe seats have all gone to men.
  • Good CV with plenty of community involvement
  • Good political background


  • Projects poorly due to amateur speaking style and poor dress sense
  • Former United Future Party President
  • Graham Lee?s daughter
  • Didn?t even make the final five in Botany

Mike Loftus

Mike is an all round good guy who in another era might have been a solid National MP. Probably doesn?t offer a lot to caucus at the moment though, as it is overpopulated with White Middle Class Males and Captain Panic Pants is panicking about this already.


  • Good guy, most likable of all the candidates
  • Good team man who wont cause any problems
  • Best of all four candidates out on the hustings, someone voters will warm to very quickly


  • WMCM and there are too many of them in National
  • Offers National nothing special or different

As always candidates are welcome to send in posts, promotional material or anything they like to this blog which will publish it unedited in the interests of keeping the public informed. Good luck to all, it is just a shame that this seat wasn?t selected last year.


Banks confirmed for Epsom

John Banks has been confirmed as the new ACT candidate for Epsom.

Former Auckland Mayor John Banks was confirmed by the Act board this morning as Act’s candidate for Epsom in the November election.

The announcement was made at a press conference this afternoon in Newmarket, Auckland.

Mr Banks was favoured by new leader Don Brash, who last month ousted former leader and sitting Epsom MP Rodney Hide in a very public coup.

Mr Banks is a former National Party MP and cabinet minister. He, like Dr Brash, only recently joined Act – on May 18.

Act’s polling has improved since Dr Brash’s leadership bid, with a recent poll showing the party would pass the 5 per cent threshold to get into Parliament.

Now it will be interesting to see if Aaron Bhatnagar wins the nomination for National. What will be more?interesting?is to see other ACt candidates in vulnerable seats. Tamaki is vulnerable with National’s candidate barely breathing. I understand that there is sweepstake running in Wellington on whether or not he makes it to the election.


Fran(k) spanks Rodney

In today’s Herald Fran(k) O’Sullivan spanks Rodney Hide…hard.

Rodney Hide – dubbed ‘the little corporal’ by his growing number of opponents within right wing politics – would definitely meet his political Waterloo if a credible candidate stood against him for the Epsom seat at the November elections.

That’s the clear takeout from secret polling done by the potential backers of a new “alternative support party”.

The polling shows that former Auckland City Council mayor John Banks would easily trounce Hide. So, too would other alternative candidates such as former National Party leader Don Brash, and, Colin Craig, the third placed candidate in the recent Auckland mayoral race.

And to really rub salt into this purulent wound, let’s toss in Hide’s bete noire Winston Peters. According to the indicative polls conducted by South Island-based Research First, even the NZ First leader is likely to do down better with Epsom voters than their canary coated MP.

That is a factor which might persuade Peters to contest the seat to try to bring Act down in revenge for the merciless campaign that Hide waged against him just before the 2008 election.

I’m not convinced that John Banks is even contemplating standing, though I do understand that he and Don Brash are busy fundraising and seeing?the?same donors that Peter Goodfellow has neglected the past couple of years. On who’s behalf, I’m not yet sure, but I am sure it is happening.

In the circumstances, Hide should do the decent thing and clear the way for a credible candidate to stand in Epsom for Act. But my sources suggest that Hide’s colossal ego is such that he is more likely to want to do down in a heap than put Act first.

Banks would stand “in a heartbeat” if Act asked him to do so, says one well-placed intermediary.

Brash – who had gone to cover in Hawkes Bay – was staying clear of the speculation ahead of his own speech to the conference today. But he’s recently been pressured by a number of players – including former National finance minister Ruth Richardson – to re-enter the political fray. He’s very tempted (not that he would need much seduction) as he believes the Government should be doing much more to get the economy on the right track.

The big question facing Banks, Brash, their allies and backers is whether they can reach an accommodation with Act or whether they should go ahead with the new party. Act is an established – if damaged brand.

It has a constitution and a membership base; not all its financial backers have deserted it.

I’m not sure who Fran(k) is talking to, especially with the “in a heartbeat” comment because the people I have spoken to who know John well say this simply isn’t the case. For John banks to stand in Epsom would mean a massive falling out between him and Aaron Bhatnagar. Aaron is the presumptive candidate for National in Epsom being the current electorate chair and National not having a representative for Epsom since Richard Worth fell on his sword.

I think that Banks and Brash though may well have poached?the?financial backers of Act. I am also pretty sure that banks and Brash know that electorally they are rat poison as candidates. They are both pensioners with Brash over 70. They also both know that their best years politically are behind them.

Colin Craig though is a whole new kettle of fish.

When Labour first got wind that Epsom voters were being polled over whether they should vote for Hide or Banks, Banks denied any knowledge of the phone poll.

In fact, it was Craig who commissioned the December polling. Respondents who identified themselves as centre-right or swing voters were asked if they were in favour of a new partner for John Key in place of Act, “given Act’s decline in popularity and internal problems”. The upshot was that just over 50 per cent either agreed or strongly agreed with the need for a new partner. About 22 per cent were in the disagree or disagree strongly camp.

Another question asking all poll respondents to rank their preferred leader for a new party in place of Act, put Banks at the top with 37 per cent. Craig had 27 per cent, Brash 21 per cent, Peters 16 per cent and Hide was on 14 per cent,

Colin Craig has got money, he has got business skills and had he obtained good credible?political?advice may well have given Len Brown a decent run for his big?corporate?money. Colin Craig is certainly best placed to take a truly independent campaign to the streets of Auckland and have a better than even chance of tipping out Len Brown, who is proving to be as useless, if not more so than Dick Hubbard. I’m not sure that running for parliament is the right thing for Colin Craig but I reserve judgement until I see who else he has enlisted for support.

If that support is a bunch of disaffected Act loonies then his campaign will be doomed. There is room for a decent, right of centre party of?principle, there isn’t one for a loony fringe of collected single issue drum beaters.

One thing is certain though, unless Act can connect then their days are numbered. This much Fran(k) has right.





Botany Selection Process Winners and Losers

Following on from the lessons post of Friday, this post identifies the winners and losers from Botany.


Jami-Lee Ross: Winner on the night and likely to have a long career as an MP. A very safe pair of hands, and a guy that Len Brown will be pleased not to have on council holding him to account.

Maggie Barry: For a last minute sign up who needed board approval she did well to beat long time National Party activist Aaron Bhatnagar. The media have clearly pointed out that Maggie has huge appeal to the grey power crowd, and she is the antidote to Winston.

Ed Saafi: Ed was knocked out in the first round, but as a highly educated Pacific Islander he has a very good chance of picking up the board selected nomination in Mangere, and winning a list seat if National?s vote holds up.


Aaron Bhatnagar: Aaron is a mate and so hopefully he will take this commentary as it is intended, cold hard facts from the Whale, acting as a mate. By finishing third his reputation has taken a dent. He was graceless in his immediate response to Pansy?s resignation, and the negative campaign run against Jami-Lee and Maggie by his supporters hurt him. He now runs the risk of becoming the Phil Twyford of the National Party but without the Tizard Timebomb to gift him a seat. Needs to get new advisors and break his habit of playing dirty. It didn’t work for Banks,?it doesn’t work for Boag and it didn’t work for Bhatnagar. Aaron should now crack on and do what he was going to do all along and challenge Allan Peachey in Tamaki. He would?have?my full backing in doing so.

Maggie Barry: Impatience damaged her reputation. She could have negotiated a list only position and not suffered a selection loss that harms her reputation. Also needs to get some proper advisors who are not considered loonies by the party membership.

Hamish Price: Aaron Bhatnagar?s offsider. Self styled “regional power broker” who didn?t realise that in politics leaks are everywhere. Ran an exceptionally negative and scurrilous campaign against Jami-Lee Ross while pretending to be his friend. Stupid enough to tell tales to the media and party members without understanding that The Whale has sources everywhere. He is a nasty, offensive and divisive self important fool of a man that should be avoided at all costs by any candidate.

Final Thoughts

Maggie Barry could well fit into caucus but she cannot afford another loss at selection. She needs to get a board appointment, either as a list only candidate or by getting a red seat appointment in a seat like Mt Roskill or Mt Albert where there are not 200 members and the board make the appointment.

The challenge for Maggie is she will have to understand she is a saleswoman, and will have little influence over policy. She wont change the world in the short term, and may have to sell her soul to sell policies she disagrees with, but she could easily position herself as the replacement for Nick Smith, as there is a big gap in the environment portfolio area. One other seat that would suit her would be?East Coast Bays. The current MP is long in the tooth, not well liked, and has purposely kept membership under 200 as a deliberate tactic. By mounting a challenge it is at the Board’s discretion and could well see McCully farmed off as?Ambassador?to?Italy?to share war stories of his conquests with Silvio Berlusconi. The demographics of the electorate suit an older candidate with gardening credentials.

If Maggie does decide to pursue a career with National she should do what this blog recommends to all candidates. Get proper professional advise from discrete and competent people with a track record of winning. There are a number of people who work behind the scenes and shun publicity, and candidates can call the tip line for their details.

Botany iPredict update

Last night was the sec?ond meet the can?di?dates meet?ing. As expected all candidates presented better with the biggest improvement coming from Aaron Bhatnagar, who spoke a lot better and more clearly than his first outing. Both he and Jami-lee Ross showed their?political?up-bringing in answering the policy focused questions far better than Maggie Barry who has, at best, a helicopter view of National party policy.

Some of the candidates are forgetting that although Botany is a wealthy seat, the older ones are often tradespeople and self-employed who left school early themselves. The word I have heard is that many delegates were disappointed to see silly dirty mudslinging brought into their electorate. It’s a pity too, because it is likely to have hurt the candidate it was designed to assist.

The Herald thinks it is a two horse race:

The National nomination for Botany looks to be down to a two-horse race between former broadcaster Maggie Barry and young Auckland councillor Jami-Lee Ross.

Matthew Hooton also comments:

Right-leaning political commentator Matthew Hooton this week said he believed it was a two-horse race between Ms Barry, 51, and Mr Ross, 25.

Hooton said on Radio NZ that Mr Ross had the advantage of being young and could bring voters to National who may not have voted for them before.

Gardening guru Ms Barry, who had conservation credentials and had appeared in advertisements for hearing aids, could be competition for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in attracting older voters.

“If she does win that Botany election … she will be able to hit that Grey Power circuit, the sort of areas where National is sometimes weak,” said Hooton.

Current stock prices are:

Jami-Lee Ross to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.61?Probability:?61.5%

Mag?gie Barry to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.23?Probability:?23.2%

Aaron Bhat?na?gar to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.16?Probability:?15.9%

Ed Saafi to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.01?Probability:?1.1%

Dar?ren Gedge to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.01?Probability:?1.1%

Botany iPredict update

Tonight is the second meet the can?di?dates meet?ing. There seems to have been a bit of mud flying about from some of the candidates which is a bit unfortunate. It’s all a bit silly and likely to do the mud-flingers some serious damage. Again I won’t be at the selection, but never fear dear read?ers The Whale will be there via his spies, despite the ongoing efforts of the?hier?ar?chy?to keep me?out.

On to the stock prices. It seems that the news of Nick Smith’s backing of Maggie Barry has collapsed her support. It looks like her support is bleeding away, as expected to both Jami-Lee Ross and Aaron Bhatnagar.

Jami-Lee Ross to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.58?Probability:?58.3%

Mag?gie Barry to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.30?Probability:?29.6%

Aaron Bhat?na?gar to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.15?Probability:?15.0%

Ed Saafi to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.01?Probability:?1.1%

Dar?ren Gedge to win selec?tion: Price:?$0.01?Probability:?1.1%