Focus, former MPs bound to fail

Quite why I was in parliament buildings in 1996 I can’t recall.

But I do remember being in the office of an MP with several others including Ross Meurant who had resigned from the National Party and formed the Right of Centre Party when his electorate disappeared with the introduction of MMP.

He told us he’d formed the party to give National a coalition partner. We told him it wouldn’t work.

We were right.

Since then he’s occupied himself in a variety of ways:

Meurant was elected onto the Rodney District Council in 1998. However, his time with the Rodney District Council was short-lived: the entire council was dissolved by the Minister of Local Government after an acrimonious relationship between the general manager and Meurant culminated in a split within the council.

Between 1999 and 2004 Meurant was engaged by parliamentary services as a part time adviser on agriculture, forestry, fishing and racing taxation policy to Winston Peters, . . .

He’s now on the board of another new party – Focus New Zealand (which was, until its first meeting last week, the New Zealand Rural Party).

Another ex-MP, Sandra Goudie is on the board with him.

She won the Coromandel seat from then-Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, served three terms then had the good sense to announce she wouldn’t contest the seat last year.

That good sense has now deserted her.

If either of them had learned anything from their tenure as MPs they would be aware of the time, energy, money and members needed to run a party and win elections. They would also know they won’t succeed.

Perhaps they didn’t realise that when they were in parliament and if they did they can’t have shared it with their fellow board members among whom is  former Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie.

They might attract some votes from the disenchanted and deluded. But unless they can work a miracle which no other new party without a sitting MP has managed Focus NZ will join the long list of wannabe MPs and parties that have come and gone without getting anywhere near parliament.

15 Responses to Focus, former MPs bound to fail

  1. Neil says:

    A very good post GP. Interesting to note that most of these organizations have these retreads like Meurant and Goudie.
    Many seem to come from the country, have been involved in farmer politics and seem to think they can walk on water.
    Is it because a lot of these people are on the tractor doing long monotonous jobs and seem to lose touch with reality?
    Many of those vocal rural people overestimate the electoral support they have, while also being very critical of matters they do not agree with. Some of this vocal group do not realize they are in the electoral minority. The only way they make progress is by being part of one of the major parties .
    We are one people, town and country together. A solid right wing group will do more than weak noisy monority groups.


  2. homepaddock says:

    You’re right Neil. If they survive until the election they’ll get some votes but not enough to cross the threshold, then their votes will add to those of parties whose policies they abhor. They’d accomplish more by following your advice to join and influence a major party.


  3. If Ross Meurant is the answer, it must have been a stupid question

    [Stolen from a bumper sticker in the 1978 electon campaign; substitute Social Credit for Ross Meurant]


  4. Rich says:

    Slightly incorrect in your final point. ACT was elected in 1996 without a sitting MP.


  5. Paranormal says:

    You’ve missed the real issue though.

    Why do groups like this start up in the first place and why do they get support? Why for example did Winston First get so many votes in the last election? Why does Colin Craig First exist? They’re disenchanted with the new third way politics where the large parties have drifted to the centre. National at present is almost indistinguishable from Liarbour, running the country on Liarbours policy settings from 2005.

    I certainly don’t believe Meurant, Craig or Winston have the answers but a growing segment of the community will go to them in 2014 if National are unable to shake things up. And that will be the downfall of the country if the current left lot get in. At this stage historians will look back at the Key government as a golden opportunity squandered.


  6. robertguyton says:

    You seem to fear the disintegration of the Mighty National Party into these disenchanted splinter groups. naturally, the left wishes them well but not too well.
    Neil said:
    ” Is it because a lot of these people are on the tractor doing long monotonous jobs and seem to lose touch with reality?”
    Are you thinking too, of the Feds?


  7. homepaddock says:

    If the party appeals to the disenchanted they’re unlikely to vote for National. This one is more likely to take votes from opposition parties, NZ First in particular, which wouldn’t upset me at all.


  8. homepaddock says:

    I keep forgetting that, but Act got there by winning a seat and Focus NZ is going to run a list only campaign.


  9. homepaddock says:

    There will always be people disenchanted with one or more existing parties, particularly the governing one.

    MMP forces parties to the centre but there are still stark differences between National and Labour on important issues – tax, employment law, the need to reduce the burden of government. . . .


  10. TraceyS says:

    How boring elections would be if there were only two parties to choose from. But there are enough minority parties already to make it interesting.


  11. Rich says:

    Again, not strictly true. ACT also easily crossed the 5% threshold in the 1996 election, so did not get “there” by winning a seat. One could argue that looking like winning that seat played a part in part in them passing 5%, however.


  12. pdm says:

    Paranormal said:
    `………..historians will look back at the Key government as a golden opportunity squandered.’

    While I have taken the liberty of bastardising the quote I think this already applies. The Key led Government has been given two clear mandates to get rid of the excesses of the last Labour Government and get New Zealand out of the `Black Hole’ Labour left – it has failed to do so.

    Self interest perhaps?


  13. homepaddock says:

    PDM – that criticism isn’t fair. National is reducing costs in the public service – without cuts on the front line and in spite of the GFC. It’s also on path to return to surplus again in spite of very uncertain global economic conditions.


  14. Paranormal says:

    Au contraire HP, the GFC gave the incoming Key government the opportunity to undertake some serious reform following the do nothing 90’s governments and the squandering of the Clark/Cullen era. History has shown that the public would have backed Key if he had gone to them in an open manner – and he was uniquely placed to do so following his election mandate for change and level of popularity. Instead we’ve only had tinkering around the edges. Bennett’s welfare reforms are a step in the right direction but a little too late.


  15. Wayne says:

    I am a current member of Focus NZ and proud to be so.I also spend many long hours on the tractor. Most wage earners don’t have a clue what it takes to run a business today with the preasure coming on from all sides.Focus NZ does. Why are you guys focusing on Ross Meurant. He is only one person .Look at how quickly Focus NZ has attracted these high profile people from it’s small beginings.And don’t worry there are many more to come. The next elections are a long way off. John Key may have many high payed advisors guiding him. Ken Rintoul has many unpayed passionate, free thinking, realistic members willing to work as a team. Watch this space


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