Craig’s press secretary leaves in tears

September 18, 2014

Conservative leader Colin Craig has just lost his press secretary of two years:

Rachel MacGregor has told Newstalk ZB she’s left the party as of this morning.

Our political editor Barry Soper says she is very upset and has taken public relations advice.

“Colin Craig does campaign on being this wholesome, out there sort of a bloke, that’s all encompassing, that really is the sort of person we should be looking up to.

“Now if he can’t get his own house in order in terms of staff in the Conservative Party then you’ve got to ask questions.”

Barry Soper says this will damage the Conservative Party brand.

Soper just told Leighton Smith he’d talked to her and she was in tears.

Whatever the truth of this is, it will do the party no good.

It is on 4% in Colin James’ poll of polls.

If  it doesn’t make the 5% threshold those votes will be distributed to parties which do.

A friend was talking to a woman about this yesterday. When she realised her vote for the Conservatives might end up helping Labour and the Green Party get an extra MP she was horrified.


Cunliffe chickens out, Norman steps in

November 6, 2013

Advertising on the Farming Show used to be the most expensive on the Radio Network.

It probably still is because it’s now broadcast nationwide. It’s listened to by a broad audience and not just beyond town boundaries.

I do an occasional spot on the show and often meet people from all around the country, urban and rural, who’ve heard me.

Host Jamie Mackay has a successful recipe with a blend of farming and wider rural issues mixed with sport, music and politics.

It’s the sort of show you’d think an aspiring Prime Minister would want to appear on but one has chickened out:

There’s a certain irony in the position I find myself in with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

You see, David C has red-carded me.

Meaning, for the first time since 2000, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to a weekly slot, I will not be interviewing the Labour leader on the Farming Show.

Rightly or wrongly, Cunliffe says he won’t get a fair hearing, that we will make fun of him. Heck, we make fun of everyone, including ourselves.

Jamie does make fun of some of his interviewees but the political segments are usually pretty straight. In fact with my ever so slightly blue bias I think he sometimes let Cunliffe’s predecessors and agricultural spokesmen away too lightly.

Had Cunliffe or his media team bothered to listen to the show archives, available here, they’d have known that he’d get a fair go.

I think he has unfairly pigeon-holed me. He needs to understand some of my political history before he consigns me to the National Party lackey file. . .

Brought up in a family where Norman Kirk was admired more than Keith Holyoake, Jamie voted for Social Credit in his first two elections, in 1984 he voted against Rob Muldoon and for Bob Jones, didn’t get round to voting in 1987 and had his first vote for National in 1990.

Even then it was a vote more for a candidate than a party because I liked the cut of a young buck the Nats had dragged down to his home province of Southland from The Treasury in Wellington.

His name was Bill English and he looked like he at least had a bit of spark in him.

However, considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now? 

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. . . .

So here’s my message for PC David C, which unfortunately I can’t pass on personally. 

If you really want to be the next prime minister, get your teeth into some issues that affect middle and low-income NZ – jobs, education, health, and the minimum wage are traditional Labour strongholds.

Attack National where you have an inherent political advantage and where it might have dropped the ball.

On second thoughts, I might save that message for my new Farming Show correspondent, Dr Russel Norman.

I heard Jamie a couple of weeks ago saying Cunliffe wasn’t coming on the show and he said the same thing this week.

I thought he meant just those days, after all what politician would turn down the opportunity for nationwide publicity on the radio?

But no, it wasn’t just couple of instances that didn’t suit his diary, he’s given the show a flat no for the worst of all reasons, that he wouldn’t get a fair hearing and he’d be made fun of.

How precious is that?

A politician who can’t stand the very gentle heat of the Farming Show isn’t going to cope with the much hotter temperature in other media and parliament.

He wouldn’t have been made fun of unfairly on the show but he will be now.

Jamie’s column is in the current edition of the Farmers Weekly which is delivered free to every rural mail box in the country and sold in book stores and dairies. It’s in the FW’s digital edition and on the website (to which I’ve linked above).

It will be on the Farming Show website soon.

I’ve already heard Jamie mention Cunliffe’s no-show and he’ll keep doing it. he’ll probably mention it to his cousin, political journo Barry Soper, who has does a spot on the show each Friday.

Prime Minister John Key has a weekly interview on the show. He sometimes get a little borax poked at him by Jamie and handles it well. His customary good humour and ability to laugh at themselves will continue to provide a contrast with Cunliffe who was scared of a gentle ribbing.

Deputy PM and Finance Minister Bill English, Minister  for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Deputy Speaker Eric Roy,  are also regulars on the show. So are Labour’s Primary Industries spokesman Damien O’Connor and former MP now Vice Chancellor of Massey Steve Maharey. In the past former PM Helen Clark, then-National party leader Don Brash, former Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, former MPI Minister David Carter and Cunliffe’s former leader David Shearer were all on each week.

Since Cunliffe won’t front, Jamie has invited Russel Norman to replace him.

All of these people are or were willing to front Jamie regularly but Cunliffe isn’t.

But worse than this – one of his challenges was to assert himself as leader of the opposition, a position Norman had assumed while David Shearer led Labour.

Instead, he’s handed his rival a free pass to a slot that should have been his own on the Farming Show.

In doing so he’s shown himself a little too concerned with his own image and a little less confident of his own ability than he would like the world to think.

#gigatownoamaru doesn’t chicken out.


Fair? True?

July 13, 2013

Colin Espiner explains the anatomy of a coup and says of Labour leader David Shearer:

. . . Most people have no idea who he is, and those who do know think he’s a shambolic, equivocal, spineless ditherer with the political nous of a first-term MP. 

Shearer is a lovely man. I’d let him babysit my kids without hesitation. But to date he has revealed neither the fortitude nor the authority to lead a political party – let alone be a prime minister. . . .

Barry Soper is equally derisive:

Every time the hapless, Dithering David Shearer stood up in Parliament’s bear pit . . .

Is that fair? Is it true?


Drought “kind of snuck up on us”

March 18, 2013

It’s only Monday but it would be difficult to beat this from Dr Raymond Miller on Q+A yesterday for the stupidest comment of the week:

Admittedly, the drought kind of snuck up on us, to a certain extent, and I think the fact that the minister responsible for agriculture happened to be in Latin America for nearly two weeks when farmers were crying out for help suggests that the government may not have anticipated what was happening.

Droughts don’t sneak up.

Farmers, their advocacy groups, weather watchers, local, central government politicians and all the people who’ve noticed just how good summer has been for recreation and those with even a passing interest in current events are only too aware that there hasn’t been nearly enough rain for months.

As for the comment about the government and the Minister.

The government will be getting constant updates on the weather and will be in no doubt about its impacts on farmers and the people who service and supply them directly; provincial towns and cities and the economy as a whole.

He knew how dry it was before he went and that it was likely to get worse while he was away. He would have been only too well aware of what was happening – or when it comes to rain – not happening back in New Zealand and ensuring anything the Ministry of Primary Industries could have been doing was being done.

Jamie Mackay asked Barry Soper on the Farming Show whether the Minister should have stayed home.

He said he was far better occupied opening doors and making the most of opportunities in South America, that he was on top of what was happening in New Zealand bud didn’t need to be here.


Question of the week

June 28, 2011

Genuine question: with a bit over 5000 votes in total, is Hone the electorate MP with the least number of votes in modern NZ history? Seriously, I cant think of any electorate MP with fewer votes.

From Simon Bridges on Facebook.

Update: Not just the MP with the fewest votes but probably the one with the most expensive votes.

Keeping Stock quotes Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper saying it cost about $600 a vote.


More hypocrisy

November 1, 2008

Barry Soper told Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB yesterday that the police were waiting for legal advice before releasing a report on their investigations into New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. But Soper wasn’t expecting charges to be laid.

The report still hasn’t been released but if it does clear Peters it will be overshadowed by yet another report on his hypocricy.

Phil Kitchen reports on evidence that NZ First and its leader took donations from the Velas who were also paying party staffer Ross Meurant who was helping develop racing, fishing and tax policies.

A related story tells of Peters demanding a helicopter  from the Velas.

If nothing else this is further proof of hypocrisy in the man who scrambled up the polticial ladder on rungs created by his repeated railings against the influence of big business.

It will only take one in five   20 voters to get Peters and his party into parliament. Once he’s there a Labour led government, supported by the Greens and Jim Anderton would allow him back in government, almost certainly as a minister.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said during the wee party leaders’ debate she’d find it difficult working with him, but neither she nor her party have said they won’t work with him.

So a vote for any of the parties on the left is a vote for Peters to be a Minister because they are all prepared to put politics before principle.

Only John Key has put principle first by ruling Peters and his party out of cabinet and government he leads.

We can choose not to vote for Peters and his party, but that might not keep them out of parliament.

We can choose to vote for a National led government and be certain it will keep them out of government.


Better without MPs

October 21, 2008

Bill Ralston has discovered the secret to better election TV:

I have found the answer to all those boring political debates and interview programmes (including my own) that litter the election campaign.

Don’t have any politicians on them.

They become so much more fun if you simply have the journalists nattering to each other and then head off for a beer afterwards.

He made the discovery because Winston Peters refused to take part in a Sky TV interview with the leaders and one of his staff, Frank Perry made this suggestion to Ralston who hosts the show:

Another email from Perry: “Mr Peters will not be there. We suggest that you interview yourself – you have had plenty of practice!”

So Frank gave me the idea. If Winston didn’t front then I would have to interview, if not myself, four of Peters’ favourite meerkats. Barry Soper, who Winston had a verbal brawl with in John McCain’s office in Washington, Dom Post investigative journalist Phil Kitchin who broke a series of stories regarding NZ First’s finances that led to Peters angrily calling him a “gripper”, TV3’s Duncan Garner who’s been under fairly constant attack by Peters, and Dom Post gallery journalist Vernon Small who will never be on Winston’s Christmas card list.

It was a pity I couldn’t have rounded the panel off with one of the Espiner brothers who Peters loathes with venom.

. . . I regret he didn’t show up but the show went on anyway and everyone had a great time without him.

Maybe it was an allegory of the coming election, Winston won’t show up in Parliament because New Zealand First won’t trigger the 5% barrier. Some people might regret his disappearance from the political scene but the show will go on without him and we will all have a great time anyway.

We can but hope.


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