It’s the party vote that counts

June 28, 2014

The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.

The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:

. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .

Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.

National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.

So are at least four other Labour MPs.

. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .

A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.

But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.

That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:

. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’  . . .

Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.


Labour’s list

June 23, 2014

Labour has announced its party list for the 2014 election.

Five sitting MPs Ruth Dyson, Kris Faafoi, Clare Curran, Trevor Mallard and Rino Tirikatene have opted off the list as has Napier candidate Stuart Nash. . .

Did those not on the list step aside voluntarily or did they jump when they learned their plaes?

Hamish Rutherford gives Curran’s  statement:

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran makes a short statement over the phone about withdrawing from the Labour list:
“I made a decision to withdraw from the list. I’m focused on winning Dunedin South for Labour and a hundred per cent committed to campaigning for the party vote. Not just in Dunedin but across the region, Otago-Southland region. And that’s all I’m saying, okay?”

This might be nearer the truth:

Rutherford  also lists the winners and losers:

Winners on the Labour list:
David Clark up from 49 in 2011 to 26 this year
Iain Lees-Galloway from 37 to 24
Loiusa Wall, not placed in 2011 is ranked 12
Chris Hipkins rises from 30 to 9 this year
David Shearer was 31 last time, ranked 13 for 2014
Megan Woods rises from 47 to 20.

Losers:
Carol Beaumont down from 22 in 2011 to 27 this year
Maryan Street, 7th in 2011 is ranked 15 this year
Phil Goff, leader in 2011 and number 1 in 2011, is ranked 16

Damien O’Connor who rejected a list place three years ago is back – at 22.

Is that a sign he’s back in the fold or that he’s worried about losing his seat to National candidate Maureen Pugh.

Have the people ranking the candidates followed the party’s rules that 45% of caucus should be female?

That can only be determined when the votes are counted.

They have however fallen one short of the 65 list candidates the rules stipulate they should have.

That seems strange when at least two electorate candidates lots – 16 men and 5 women by my count – who are standing in electorates aren’t on the list at all.

Mallard says he chose not to seek a list place:

You’d think he’d understand how MMP works by now.

Everyone who wins a seat will push those who are depending on a list seat further down so unless Mallard loses his seat his not being on the list makes no difference to anyone else on it.

Chris Bishop, National’s candidate will be doing all he can to help him.

On current polling there will be some MPs facing the knowledge their chances of staying in parliament aren’t high and hoping the party does lose some electorates.

The list is:

1 David Cunliffe   2 David Parker   3 Grant Robertson   4 Annette King    5 Jacinda Ardern   6 Nanaia Mahuta   7 Phil Twyford   8 Clayton Cosgrove   9 Chris Hipkins   10 Sue Moroney   11 Andrew Little   12 Louisa Wall   13 David Shearer   14 Su’a William Sio   15 Maryan Street   16 Phil Goff   17 Moana Mackey   18 Kelvin Davis   19 Meka Whaitiri   20 Megan Woods   21 Raymond Huo   22 Damien O’Connor   23 Priyanca Radhakrishnan   24 Iain Lees-Galloway   25 Rachel Jones   26 David Clark   27 Carol Beaumont   28 Poto Williams   29 Carmel Sepuloni   30 Tamati Coffey   31 Jenny Salesa   32 Liz Craig   33 Deborah Russell   34 Willow-Jean Prime   35 Jerome Mika   36 Tony Milne   37 Virginia Andersen   38 Claire Szabo   39 Michael Wood   40 Arena Williams   41 Hamish McDouall   42 Anjum Rahman   43 Sunny Kaushal   44 Christine Greer   45 Penny Gaylor   46 Janette Walker   47 Richard Hills   48 Shanan Halbert   49 Anahila Suisuiki   50 Clare Wilson   51 James Dann   52 Kelly Ellis   53 Corie Haddock   54 Jamie Strange   55 Katie Paul   56 Steven Gibson   57 Chao-Fu Wu   58 Paul Grimshaw   59 Tracey Dorreen   60 Tofik Mamedov   61 Hikiera Toroa   62 Hugh Tyler   63 Susan Elliot   64 Simon Buckingham


Lies or politics

April 28, 2014

Labour has been tricky about another of its policy releases.

Last week it announced its veteran’s policy which would extend the Veteran’s pension to all veterans, whether or not they were impaired.

That sounds very generous but Matthew Beveridge covers an exchange on Twitter between Labour MP Clare Curran and Graeme Edgeler which shows that yet again Labour hasn’t given the full story.

The veteran’s pension is the same as national superannuation so week to week war veterans will be no better off with Labour’s policy.

Some would call that tricky, some would call it lying by omission.

Either way it’s just like the bumbled announcement of the baby bribe which omitted to let people know that it would kick in only after paid parental leave finished.

Then there’s getting facts wrong which is at best a very poor reflection on politics:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3′s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

“This is an appalling number of errors for someone who would seek to run New Zealand’s economy. This number of errors surely can’t have been made by accident,” Mr Joyce says.

“Mr Parker’s attempts to describe the New Zealand economy sound much more like the situation this government inherited from Labour in 2008 than anything we are seeing in 2014.

“He must have been thinking of 2008 when he talked of ridiculously high interest rates, a poor balance of trade, and the poor performance of the export sector. All were pretty sick back then and all are in much better shape today as a result of this government’s careful stewardship of the economy.”

Mr Joyce says there are two possible conclusions. “Either Labour is deliberately fudging the facts to fabricate the need for their radical economic policy prescription, or they have truly woken up in 2014 for the election without observing anything that has happened in the last five years. The latter would at least fit their regular denials of the impacts of the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

“New Zealanders know that this country today is doing better than most other developed countries, and in 2008 we were doing worse than most, in fact entering our own recession before the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“It might be an idea for Labour to look at the steady improvements that are occurring in the New Zealand economy before they start trying to write up their policy ideas.”

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Getting these facts wrong by accident is incompetence.

Getting them wrong deliberately is worse.

Either way, Labour is trying to talk down the economy which is doing well in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes and because of good management by the National-led government.

That the economy is growing doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

But the chances of improvement for everyone are far greater under this government than they would have been had Labour been in power and continued with the tax and spend policies which put the country into recession before the GFC hit the rest of the world.

The chances of improvement will be far greater with another National-led government than with the alternative prescription a Labour Green government would impose on us.

 


Curran confirmed for Dunedin South

March 24, 2014

Labour has confirmed sitting MP Clare Curran as its candidate for Dunedin South.

The party took an unusually long time to confirm the selection and there’s some evidence that the party didn’t really want Curran again.

She’s unranked in caucus, the selection date for the electorate was extended and the photo of the Labour women’s caucus celebrating International Women’s Day had every woman MP but her.

One of those could be considered unfortunate, all three together add up to a candidate who doesn’t appear to have the confidence of her colleagues.

If her own party don’t really want her, why should the good folk of Dunedin South?

 


Celebrating all but one

March 8, 2014

It’s International Women’s Day and National is celebrating the depth and diversity of their women’s caucus.

Photo: National women - Strong, dynamic leaders.

Labour is trying to but have scored another SMOG – social media own goal.

They’re celebrating all but one of their women -  Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is missing.
Where's Clare?

Is this deliberate or accidental and does it have anything to do with the fact that Dunedin South still hasn’t confirmed its candidate selection?


Malicidity

March 7, 2014

Quote of the day:

. . . Labour couldn’t run a bath – and if they did, it would leak. But would the leak be deliberate or accidental? Who, after the last week, can say? There was a flurry of discussion over whether the leaks about David Cunliffe’s secret trust, and then the Clare Curran email snafu, were on purpose or by accident. Malice or stupidity? There is perhaps a third, blended category: Malicidity. A combination of malice and stupidity, treachery and boneheadedness. . . Trans Tasman

A majority of caucus saddled with a leader they didn’t prefer; fissions and factions within and between caucus and members . . .

It would be a reasonably safe bet that the leaks would be deliberate.


Can’t run themselves, can’t run the country

March 5, 2014

Labour’s bad week has got worse.

Labour has confirmed that documents on its ICT strategy accidentally sent to the Government came from David Cunliffe’s office, not Clare Curran’s as widely reported yesterday.

Yesterday Curran, the Dunedin South MP, supplied Parliamentary media with copies of an email saying they had been accidentally sent from her office to that of Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The document contained a large number of policy ideas as well as speech notes signalling plans to announce free individual devices for pupils in low decile schools.

However late last night Labour’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe confirmed that the email sent in error actually came not from Curran’s office, but from that of the Labour leader.

While Simon Cunliffe would not say who the particular staffer was, Fairfax has been told it came from Rob Egan, a former communications manager for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. . .

Was this a deliberate and misguided attempt to take the heat of Cunliffe over the untrustworthy trust donations debacle at the expense of the not-universally popular Curran?

Why did Curran say her office was responsible when it wasn’t?

Whatever the answer to those questions is, this is another example of Labour’s inability to run itself which shows it’s far from ready to run the country.


Curran not standing or not wanted?

December 28, 2013

Friday’s ODT had an interesting advertisement:

The New Zealand Labour Party wishes to advise all Electorate, Branch and Affiliated members that nominations for the Dunedin South constituency remain open. The closing date has been amended and is now February 28 2014.

Does this mean that sitting MP Clare Curran isn’t standing or that she’s standing but not wanted and the party’s hoping for other nominations?

Or does it just mean there’s been a muck-up and no-one’s been nominated at all?

Whatever the answer this is most unusual in what was once a dark red seat.

However, at the last election it was more purple – National won the party vote and its candidate Jo Hayes, who will enter parliament on the list when Katrina Shanks retires next month, made a serious dent in Curran’s majority.

Hat tip: Pete George


So much for the south

September 27, 2013

Labour’s abandonment of the provinces is particularly noticeable in the South Island and the dearth of representation has been highlighted by the party’s reshuffle.

The first South Island MP in the line-up is list MP Clayton Cosgrove at number 7.

The next is another list MP Maryan Street at 12 and then West Coast Tasman MP Damien O’Connor at 19.

The party has only two MPs south of Christchurch. One of those, David Clark who is supposed to be well regarded in and outside parliament, has been demoted to 20.

Megan Woods is 24 and the other South Islanders, Ruth Dyson, Clare Curran, and Rino Tirikatene are unranked.

The ODT says that new deputy, and another list MP,  David Parker’s links give Labour south cover.

David Parker pledged his loyalty to the South after his election yesterday as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

The election of Mr Parker – a list MP who has a house in Dunedin, visits the city two weekends out of three and still calls the city his base – provides Labour with South coverage to complement Mr Cunliffe’s coverage of the North as MP for New Lynn.

The prime reason for those visits will be to keep contact with his children. That is his business but shouldn’t be confused with political representation.

He might have pledged his loyalty to the south but his actions don’t match his words. He chose to leave Dunedin and stand for Epsom at the last election.

The one before that, 2008, he was the candidate for Waitaki but showed his lack of commitment to that when he conceded the seat at a public meeting a couple of weeks before the election, for which local party members still haven’t forgiven him.

If it gets into government, the party’s anti-growth policies will hit the regions hard and the lack of representation in the senior ranks of the party will make it more difficult for the concerns of the south to be heard.


Tweet spotlights division

September 10, 2013

Labour’s two Dunedin MPs Clare Curran and David Clark came out in support of Grant Robertson before the leadership meeting in the city on Sunday.

A couple of polls have shown their candidate is well behind and yesterday Curran tweeted:

“The “NZ’s not ready for a gay PM” is prob the biggest dog whistle I’ve ever heard. Extraordinary that it’s also coming from within the Party.”

And that tweet is not prob(ably) but definitely an illustration that Labour’s big problem is lack of unity compounded by MPs’ ability to keep their thoughts on internal problems internal.
A leadership race like this always had the potential to expose divisions in the party and this tweet has shone a spotlight on at least one of them.

Should that be mis-communication spokesperson?

November 9, 2012

Labour’s communication spokesperson Clare Curran issued a media release today headlined Catastrophic Failure’ Hits Southern Cross Cable:

A ‘catastrophic failure’ has struck the Southern Cross international internet cable, says Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran.

“Labour has learnt that a ‘catastrophic failure’ at Southern Cross’s Alexandria landing station occurred this morning due to an unauthorised and un-notified software change to their wavelength switching platform, which blew up.

“We understand that partial service has been restored by reinstating old circuits via New Zealand. Full restoration is still being worked on.

“This shows the Government’s inaction and disregard for our international infrastructure could have equally catastrophic consequences for New Zealand. . .

Southern Cross responded with a media release headlined No catastrophic failure on Southern Cross Cable:

Contrary to a misleading and inaccurate media release from Labour’s Clare Curran, no ‘catastrophic failure’ has occurred on the Southern Cross Cable.

The cable is, a figure of 8 network providing internet services to New Zealand, Australia, Pacific and the US. In the early hours of this morning a limited outage affecting 10% of our active capacity occurred during our maintenance window which is a low traffic impacting period.

The outage occurred at one of our Sydney cable stations, Alexandria, and it lasted from 3.17am – 4.28am, Sydney Time, impacting 4 of our customers.

A problem occurred and the switch was reverted to its original software. The incident occurred as a part of authorised work taking place to expand capacity on the Southern Cross Network.

If the Mis-Communciation spokesperson has apologised for her mistake it hasn’t yet appeared on Scoop where she put the media release.


SMOG pollutes campaign clear-air

August 23, 2011

National Party MPs’ blogs have been labelled boring.

As an active member even I will admit there is some truth in that accusation but there is a very good reason for that. Exciting posts usually generate publicity of the wrong kind.

There is no better example of that than the SMOG (Social Media Own Goal) over at Red Alert which Keeping Stock details:

We’ve blogged a bit about SMOG’s lately; Social Media Own Goals. Well, Clare Curran has scored an absolute beauty today. Over at Red Alert, and under the heading The importance of being Labour, she blogged:

    Have had a gutsful of the white-anting of Labour from both the right and the left of politics.

White-anting is an Australian expression. It means undermining . .

Now Clare, as she proudly points out is a “public relations professional”. So what was she thinking when she followed he first post up with one entitled The importance of being Labour #2? There she blogged:

 And on another note, re white-anting; the attempts by the Greens to encroach on Labour territory . . .

Comments in response from the left aren’t impressed with this born-to-rule attitude and include:

  • Greens white-anting Labour?

    Surely you mean, contesting the same constituency rather than ‘encroaching’, right?

    You seriously think you have the unquestioning allegiance of my vote as a worker?

    I don’t think you need to look to far to see why mobilising labour in NZ is facing a few hurdles with this kind of thinking.

Discussion also raged on Twitter, prompting Dim Post to post on why the left should vote strategically.

 And Imperator Fish asks if Red Alert is damaging Labour.

The answer to that is yes.

There are only so many column inches in papers or minutes of air time available for politics and the last thing any party needs is to have them covering this sort of spat.

It would be better to be accused of being boring than producing SMOG that pollutes the clear air needed to run a positive campaign.


SMOG alert

August 3, 2011

Keeping Stock calls them SMOGs – social media own goals and Clare Curran has scored a big one.

It’s bad enough that she tried to smear John Key by ranting about a PR company on a Red Alert Post, but to make it worse Quote Unquote points out the conspiracy is even deeper and darker than she suspects.

 Hill & Knowlton is huge – it even has a branch in Morocco – but it is a small cog in the vast global (i.e. evil) machine that is WPP.

WPP controls 20 companies in Auckland – well, you’d expect that of sleazy Auckland – but it also controls six companies in virtuous Wellington, PR agencies, ad agencies, pollsters and the like. I can reveal their names: Designworks, MEC, Milward Brown (Colmar Brunton), Ogilvy & Mather, PPR and Y&R . . .

. . . But it gets even worse. Y&R’s clients include the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Te Papa, the Met Service and the NZSO.

That’s a worry.

If you follow Curran’s logic the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Te Papa and the Met Service are all evil.

Does that explain the bad weather?


Can’t make law if don’t understand and keep it

July 26, 2011

Labour just don’t get it – they aren’t above the law.

The Electoral Finance Act they pushed through was a dog’s breakfast. National repaled it and replaced it with legislation on which Labour was consulted and for which they voted.

While not as bad as the EFA, it’s far from perfect but that’s what happens, when you aim for concensus you oftn end up with compromise.

But good law or bad, it is the law and it is incumbent on those who make it to understand it and keep it.

Labour doesn’t appear to understand the law for which they voted, they don’t want to keep it and are criticising officals for administering it.

Kiwiblog posts on posts written by Damien O’Connor and Clare Curran at Red Alert in which they complain about the Electoral Act and the Electoral Commission.

MPs who neither understand nor keep the law cannot be entrusted with making it.


Clothes maketh the MP

June 8, 2011

Whether or not clothes maketh the MP is debatable but there is no debating that the debating chamber has a dress code. That is business attire and it applies to all MPs.

Whatever grounds Clare Curran had for complaining that her publicity stunt of wearing a Highlanders rugby jersey in parliament yesterday resulted in a yellow card, sexism is not one of them.

Rugby might be a business but rugby gear is not business wear whether a man or woman is wearing it.


Surrounded by zombies

April 23, 2011

Is this a comment on the Labour caucus?

. . . Don’t think I want to replace my profile pic with Zombiegirl. Not the best look. Fun though. Am surrounded by zombies and I’m not in parliament!

Followed by:
 
Am now being mudded and blooded #zombie
 
Y:  heheh… a bit like the labour caucus eh! :>

22 hours ago
 
Actually Y, unfortunately it’s a bit like politics in general.
 
Then:
 
For the benefit of certain colleagues who are snooty about these things and disapprove of me. Fantastic project and can’t wait for it to come out. Proud to have the final scene shot in SouthD

 

Zombies. Part 2: We have an important choice to make this year, we shldn’t be zombies and go with the flow. We are not the undead. We don’t have to be sucked in.
 
It’s from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran’s Facebook page.


Benson-Pope not standing

October 13, 2008

David Benson-Pope is not going to stand for Dunedin South.

However, the MP did not go without a fight.

Mr Benson-Pope (58) lost the Labour Party nomination for the electorate to Dunedin public relations consultant Clare Curran in a bitter battle that continues to split the electorate.

“I acknowledge the widely-held view that the candidate selection was not in the best interest of the electorate and that little regard has been given to the very high level of voter support that I have received in five terms as a [city] councillor and three terms as the parliamentary representative of this electorate,” he said.

“In the end, however, I cannot respond to the disloyalty of a few by allowing any personal sense of betrayal to stand in the way of my political philosophy.”

His decision not to stand came after a long and difficult consideration. He urged voters to cast their party vote for the Labour Party.

His loyalty to the party doesn’t stretch to the candidate Clare Curran though because he only mentioned the party vote.

Dene Mackenzie  said Benson-Pope gave no hints about what he’d do now but options include public office – either a board appointment or election to the Dunedin City Council.

The grapevine has suggested before that he might take a tilt at the mayoralty.


Benson-Pope still prevaricating

September 16, 2008

David Benson-Pope is still prevaricating on whether or not he’s planning to seek the Dunedin South seat as an independent – or for a party other than Labour.

He said he took the Labour signage off his electorate office a couple of weeks ago to comply with the Electoral Finance Act. But that excuse doesn’t hold water because the EFA takes effect from January 1st so he’d hardly breach the Act for eight months then suddenly decide to abide by it.

He could just be playing games but TV3 says he’s asked the council where billboards could be erected. Given the bad blood between him and Clare Curran Labour’s canddiate for the seat he currently holds it is unlikely he’s asking so he can help her.


Benson-pope still mute on future

September 9, 2008

The longer Dunedin South MP stays mute on his future the more speculation grows that he will seek re-election.

Mr Benson-Pope was replaced as the party’s candidate by public relations consultant Clare Curran.

Former Dunedin South and St Kilda MP Michael Cullen was in the city on Sunday to launch Ms Curran’s campaign.

While both spoke highly of Mr Benson-Pope, it must be on their minds whether the MP will not go quietly into the night and instead stand, perhaps as an Independent Labour candidate.

Ms Curran tells anyone who will listen that Mr Benson-Pope is more interested in the mayoralty of Dunedin than remaining in Parliament.

But the local government elections are two years away and Mr Benson-Pope has to fill in his time somehow before then.

If a National-led government takes power after the election, any hope he might have of a lucrative official appointment will disappear.

A clique of Labour MPs seems to think Mr Benson-Pope may stand. He continually avoids answering any questions, direct or otherwise, about his plans but he does make a point of urging people to cast their party vote for Labour.

A pointer to his future might lie in the McBride St window of his office. It says: Dunedin South Office, David Benson-Pope.

The word “electorate” has been blacked out and all Labour Party logos have been removed. Ostensibly, this is to comply with the Electoral Finance Act.

But as I blogged last week, the EFA does not interfere with an MP’s electorate work; and if the signage had been breaching the Act it would have been doing so since January 1.


How desperate are they?

September 2, 2008

How low would you go in your efforts to retain power?

Would you for instance allow one of your MPs to leave your party and stand for another to help its chances of getting back in to parliament and yours of having a coalition partner? And if you were the other party would you accept the waka jumper?

I ask the question because the Dunedin grapevine is buzzing with the suggestion that David Benson-Pope is going to stand for New Zealand First in Dunedin South and that Labour will target the party vote but not try to win the seat.

How reliable is the grapevine? It varies and one fact which makes this scenario less likely is that Labour’s Dunedin South candidate is only 45th on the party list. On current polling that means she’d have to win her seat to get in to parliament.

The Dunedin South selection was acrimonious and there’s no love lost between Benson-Pope and Curran but he’s always been very careful to avow his loyalty to Labour.

Has that changed and would Labour sacrifice Curran?

The answer to that lies in another question: how desperate are Benson-Pope, Labour and New Zealand First?


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