Mark Osborne

Who to blame? Richard Harman has some ideas

Someone in National needs to be held to account for losing a seat they had held for 70 years.

Today is their caucus meeting and there is much to mull over, especially the actions of the campaign team during and post the campaign.

Richard Harman attempts to point the finger.

Was it the candidate?

The candidate, Mark Osborne, won selection largely on the back of votes from the northern end of the electorate centred on Kaitaia where he lives. Those votes were marshalled by Mr Carter.

Mr Osborne defeated the much more locally credentialed Grant McCullum from Wellsford who is also a member of the National Party Board.

The problem with having the north select the candidate is that the largest segments of the population live in the south, around the Bay of Islands and across to the west coast around ?Dargaville.

Kaitaia is over 80 kilometres away and Mr Osborne, who manages a Council facility there, is simply not a big enough name for the people in the south to know much about him.


On the campaign trail he looked a stunned mullet, plainly out of his depth with little charisma and nothing much to say.

But it would be unfair to blame him alone.

National badly misread the mood of the electorate and here the fingers get pointed more obliquely, more subtly at Mr Joyce.

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Northland is not feeling neglected at all. It is angry

Prime Minister John Key has vowed to do all he can over the next two and a-half years to win Northland back after voters dealt his party a humiliating defeat.

Mr Key acknowledged the party had work to do in Northland — a contrast to his stance when he gave Mr Peters “zero chance” of winning.

“The region has been struggling for decades and although we have been making progress, Northlanders have clearly told us they are not satisfied with the rate of progress and we understand that,” Mr Key said from Melbourne, where he had gone to watch the Cricket World Cup final rather than spend Saturday with his Northland candidate.

“I’d like to assure Northlanders we’re going to continue to work hard to deliver more progress. We plan to work hard to win the seat back in the general election in two and a-half years.” Read more »

Key dying in a ditch for Steve Joyce

John Key is dying in a ditch defending the campaign debacle overseen by Steve Joyce.

Prime Minister John Key admits National has been delivered a message by Northland – but rejects suggestions it is a tipping point for his Government.

Key told Stuff?Peters ran a good campaign and had massive name recognition up against a relative unknown, National’s Mark Osborne.

But the win was a result of unique circumstances, including Labour throwing its weight behind Peters, turning the contest into a two horse race. People should not read much more into it than that, he said.

“We congratulate him on the win. We will take away some lessons from last night. It’s a simple thing for our opponents to claim it’s the beginning of the end but it really isn’t and it would be massively overstating it (to say otherwise).”

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‘Tis but a scratch

John Key seems to have a happy knack?these days of treating his supporters with disdain.

He is apparently “philosophical” about losing a safe National seat to Winston Peters. He sounds remarkably like the Black Knight in Monty Python.

Prime Minister John Key says losing Northland in yesterday’s byelection was disappointing but he was “pretty philosophical” about it.

It was effectively a two-candidate contest between National’s Mark Osborne and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who won with a 4012 majority and that could not be translated to a general election.

“Once you back to a normalized scenario where there are a great many more candidates, then the dynamics change dramatically because obviously you get vote splitting and we are by far the biggest party and our candidate will come through,” he said today from Melbourne, before the cricket final.

Mr Key said he would take the loss on board.

“The voters are never wrong like, frankly, in my view, the polls are very infrequently wrong.

“We’re not dismissing it. We’re saying the rational explanation is that you’ve got a collection of parties up against National rather than droves of National voters deserting us.”

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Key had more pork barrels lined up but bottled it

If you thought the bridge bribe was bad enough, John Key had even more pork barrels lined up for delivery into Northland, but bottled rolling them out after polling showed the voters weren’t pleased.

And stupidly John Key has admitted it.

Prime Minister John Key has admitted National deliberately pulled back from rolling out more promises in the Northland by-election after a backlash to plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on local bridges.

National is in a fight for its life in Northland where local candidate Mark Osborne has been blindsided by NZ First leader Winston Peters, who polls show well ahead.

Key reacted to Peters challenge in the early stages of the campaign with a promise to upgrade 10 one way bridges – a bug bear in Northland where infrastructure has been a key issue in the by-election campaign.

Key had also signalled here would be more spending commitments announced before the campaign was over.

But since the bridge announcement National has only rolled out reheated announcements from the last election.

At a Kiwifruit packing plant in Kerikeri, Key admitted the campaign team decided against rolling out further spending promises after the initial reaction to its announcement on one way bridges..

“Probably on balance we decided there were a few things we wouldn’t announce and instead do them after the by-election.”

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Selwyn Manning on Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle

Selwyn Manning is a keen observer of NZ politics and like me he has sources across party lines.

He rarely gets things wrong but sometimes over eggs his understanding of things.

He has written a lengthy piece about Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle. It is long, and does over egg the faction details a bit…but is largely accurate.

IRRESPECTIVE OF THE FINAL COUNT, Auckland-based National Party insiders say there will be three losers once the by-election votes are counted, and they are: John Key, Steven Joyce and the National Party itself.

That?s the scornful assessment by some well positioned National Party conservatives who insist fractional fractures are in evidence among National Party loyalists as Northland voters prepare go to the polls in the Peters versus National by-election.

They say many have become disillusioned with the Party?s leadership: most recently, with the party?s campaign strategy, and formerly, with the values and judgment calls by their leader John Key.

John Key gave his caucus a lecture after the election to guard against arrogance and third term-itis. They have ignored that, including Key. Since the election they have lurched from one crisis to the next aimlessly.

After Northland the teflon-coating of John Key will have been shown to have worn thin. His go to people for crisis management will have failed…which means he will have failed by implication. ?? Read more »

Northland feels like a neglected spouse and has decided to sleep around a bit

…what a right royal mess Peters has kicked up in the sand for National. On Monday he was wooing the teachers. Tuesday it was the farmers in Dargaville. Wednesday was the ladies, at Ladies Day at the Whangaroa Golf Club. Peters’ man on the ground in Dargaville was Rob Stevenson, a farmer who had supported National.

He even sought selection for National for the seat after Sabin resigned. Now this farmer was Winston’s “for a range of reasons”. He wasn’t alone – Focus NZ was formed by farmers and its candidate, Joe Carr, has now endorsed Peters. When even the farmers are revolting against National, things aren’t going well. National also clearly knows that. Its candidate, Mark Osborne, said on Sunday he had not been privy to the party’s internal polling. The only reason for that is because it must be appalling.

Peters’ latest line is that voters are simply taking him on a trial basis. “I’m not asking for your loyalty for 77 years, or even seven,” he told them in Paihia. “I’m just asking for 2.5 years and if I don’t do better than the lot that’s in there already, you can kick me out.” He’s picked the right time and the right lines.

Everyone knows that Northland isn’t anything but True Blue. Read more »

Now that it’s over, let’s speak the truth about Mark Osborne

Mark Orborne was, is and remains seriously out of his depth.

National’s Northland byelection candidate Mark Osborne told supporters to brace themselves for some bad polls yesterday but insisted he was not out of the race.

With just two days of campaigning left, National is looking to boost its campaign after a 3 News-Reid Research poll last night put Mr Osborne on 34 per cent – well behind NZ First leader Winston Peters on 54 per cent. Three weeks ago, the same poll had Mr Peters on 35 per cent and Mr Osborne on 30. It indicated Labour’s nod to its voters to choose Mr Peters had caught on – Labour’s candidate Willow Jean Prime had dropped from 16 to 10 per cent.

Despite Mr Peters’ high result, only 43 per cent of the 500 Northland voters polled said they trusted Mr Peters while 48 per cent did not.

Yesterday, a cock-a-hoop Mr Peters told an encouraging crowd in Paihia to take him on in a two-and-a-half year trial and if he didn’t do better than National in that time they could kick him out in 2017.

A more despondent Mr Osborne told a small audience of councillors and business people in Kaikohe that a poll was coming and while it was bad news, he still believed it would be a “very tight race”. Read more »

Key is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t

John Key is heading back to Northland, trying to rescue National from a humiliating by-election defeat on Saturday.

The prime minister is returning early from a visit to Japan so he can campaign alongside National’s candidate Mark Osborne today and tomorrow.

It’s going to take all Mr Key’s campaigning skills to save Mr Osborne, and it may be too late.

Mr Peters thinks it is.

Mr Osborne, a council worker with no political experience, has been out of his depth in public encounters with Mr Peters.

Mike Sabin retained Northland in last year’s general election with a 9300 vote majority.

It’s vacant because Mr Sabin resigned at the end of January, citing personal issues.

One of Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics is “Never hug a corpse”. ?Northland and Osborne are political corpses, as are the election team of Joyce and de Joux. ?? Read more »

3News poll shows scale of Steve Joyce’s disaster

A 3News poll last night in Northland shows that Winston Peters is the man to beat, and shows us all that the much vaunted brains trust led by Steve Joyce has royally screwed up.

Yesterday the excuses were being trotted out by Joyce…Winston has 40 years of name recognition…blah, blah, blah.

Whatever, this is politics, play the game Steve…or go home.

The poll suggests that he and his nasty little side-kick should go home.

The 3 News-Reid Research poll of 500 Northland voters was taken between March 19 and 22, and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Preferred candidate?

  • Winston Peters – 54 percent
  • Mark Osborne – 34 percent
  • Willow Jean Prime – 10 percent
  • Others – 2 percent ?? Read more »