Sabotaging own candidates

May 24, 2014

There’s something amiss with Labour’s selection process.

Nominations for the Rangitata seat were opened, closed without anyone applying and re-opened.

Nominations for Invercargill were opened, closed with the previous candidate, and former MP, Lesley Soper applying but reopened when the news the electorate MP, National’s Eric Roy, was retiring. Someone else applied but Soper was selected anyway.

Nominations for Tamaki Makaurau opened some time ago, were held open pending the outcome of TVNZ’s inquiry into Shane Taurima’s use of his work place and resources for political purposes.

Since then the party declined to give Taurima the waiver he needed to get the nomination and now the party is seeking further nominations:

The NZ Council of the Labour Party has resolved to invite further nominations for the Labour candidature in the Tamaki Makaurau seat, with the support of the Tamaki Makaurau Labour Electorate Committee. . .

Further nominations suggests they have already got at least one but, as in Invercargill, aren’t widely enthusiastic about whoever it is.

The seat is held by Pita Sharples who isn’t standing again which, means Labour would have had a better chance of winning it.

However, the Maori Party has already selected its candidate, Rangi McLean, who will have had the best part of a month campaigning before Labour’s candidate is selected.

Once more Labour is giving every appearance of sabotaging its candidate by its inept handling of its selection process.

 


If party didn’t want her, why would electorate?

March 10, 2014

Lesley Soper, the woman Labour didn’t really want to run for Invercargill, has been selected as its candidate.

The Labour Party reopened nominations for the Invercargill electorate in January, citing the retirement of National MP Eric Roy.

A selection meeting held yesterday saw her go up against Michael Gibson.

About 200 members of the Labour Party and unions affiliated to it attended the meeting and a floor and panel vote both opted for Ms Soper. . .

Mr Gibson, who had previously said he wanted to rejuvenate Labour in Invercargill and overhaul the party, could not be reached for comment last night.

Labour was happy for Soper to do the donkey work in a contest they knew she couldn’t win against Eric Roy.

When he stood down they thought the electorate might be more winnable so re-opened the selection.

They struggled to get anyone to put a hand up and, locals tell me, got someone at the 11th hour.

Several weeks later they’ve finally held a selection and chosen the woman they showed they weren’t confident was the best one to run against a new National candidate.

This begs several questions:

* If she wasn’t the preferred candidate in January, why is she in March?

* Was she chosen because she was the best of the two nominated, or because she’s a woman and the other wasn’t?

* If the Labour wasn’t really confident about Soper representing the party, how can the people of Invercargill be enthusiastic about her representing their electorate?

* Why didn’t the party prepare the unsuccessful candidate for a comment?

* If a party can’t run a selection smoothly how can it run the country?

Labour has handicapped its candidate from the start.

Meanwhile Sarah Dowie, National’s candidate, selected by the members in the electorate with no influence from head office, unions or anyone else, has the support of her party and is working hard to win the support of the electorate.


Searching for candidates

March 5, 2014

One of the good points of MMP is that it ought to make it easier to find candidates to stand in electorates they have little if any hope of winning.

When it’s the party vote that counts, maximising that is more important than winning a seat and the candidate who does well campaigning in tiger territory has a better chance of entering parliament on the party list.

That’s the theory but it doesn’t seem to be helping Labour in practice:

The Labour Party is still without a candidate for the Rangitata electorate for this year’s general election.

A party spokesman said it had extended the deadline for another month after it did not receive any applications before the February 28 cut-off date.

Julian Blanchard stood unsuccessfully against incumbent Jo Goodhew of the National Party in 2008 and 2011, but has said he has no intention of standing this year.

Mrs Goodhew won by 8112 votes in 2008 and 6537 votes in 2011. . . .

Labour shouldn’t take any comfort for the drop in her majority.

Local support for Allan Hubbard in the face of SFO investigations, which was beyond the MP’s control, accounts for that.

So much for David Cunliffe’s claim that Rangitata was winnable for Labour.

That the party opened nominations without a likely candidate doesn’t say much for its organisational ability and problems with that are showing in Invercargill where they still don’t have a candidate either.

Lesley Soper was the only one nominated but the party re-opened nominations when sitting  National’s MP Eric Roy announced his retirement.

Michael Gibson is now contesting the Labour nomination against Soper  but the party has yet to announce which of the two it will be.

Whoever, it is, won’t find it easy to challenge National’s candidate, Sarah Dowie. While Labour’s still sorting out who will run, she has begun her campaign.

She was selected on Friday evening and hit the ground running  or more literally walking – spending a good part of the weekend competing in the Relay for Life.

Given Labour’s dislike of Soper and its policy to have an equal number of men and  women MPs, neither she nor Gibson can expect the reward of a list place for the work they do in the electorate.


Sabotaged before they start

February 11, 2014

Labour’s plan to reopen nominations for its Invercargill candidate when sitting MP Eric Roy announced he won’t be contesting the seat again has several flaws.

The grapevine tells me they had someone in mind when they reopened the selection but he wasn’t willing.

In the end they got Mike Gibson to contest the selection against former MP and several-times candidate Lesely Soper but the party’s process has sabotaged which ever of the two becomes the candidate:

. . . Though technically a candidate is not decided until Labour’s selection committee says so, and that hadn’t happened, there’s no getting around the fact that this was a tough, even humiliating, position in which to put Ms Soper.

Should she again emerge as the Labour candidate, attempts to cast her as the victor in a more vigorous, and therefore superior, process will be subverted by the lingering impression that it was more like a fruitless “geeze is this the best we can do” approach once Mr Roy was out of the picture.

Whereas if the late-showing-up contender for the Labour candidacy, Michael Gibson, gains the nomination he faces taunts that he wasn’t up for the harder fight. . .

A new candidate wants the best possible start to his or her campaign but whoever wins the nomination for Labour in Invercargill will be handicapped by the baggage of the selection process.

Meanwhile, the retiring MP thanks his constituents for allowing him to serve them:

. . . I have had many memorable experiences during my time in Parliament, but the most satisfaction has come from acting as an advocate for our wonderful city and the province as a whole.

A lot of what MPs do goes unseen.

Sometimes this is because of confidentiality requirements, such as when I was involved in the negotiations between Tiwai and the Government in 2013.

Sometimes it is because people are coming to see you for deeply personal reasons – such as their immigration application, or problems they have faced with a government agency.

Sometimes, it’s just not newsworthy.

All of it, however, makes a difference to someone’s life, and I have always been committed to doing the best job I can for my constituents, rather than being focused on headlines. . .

The unedifying process Labour is going through to select its candidate fuels the negative view that many have of politics and politicians.

These words from a Eric are a counterpoint to that and a reminder that good MPs do really serve the people who elect them, and those who don’t, and make a positive difference to people’s lives.

 


Aint no way to treat a lady

February 3, 2014

Labour now has two people seeking to be the party’s candidate in Invercargill:

. . . Michael Gibson will challenge Lesley Soper for the position, in what the party have dubbed ”democratic process”.

The two will need to pull together party member votes before a selection panel makes the final decision.

New Zealand Labour Party regional representative Glenda Alexander said contest was healthy for democracy.  

”We know people were looking for a change in the area, this is a chance for someone to front up and put their money where their mouth is,” Ms Alexander said. 

The uncharacteristic decision to reopen nominations could be perceived as a breach of the democratic process, she said. 

”We really wanted to make sure things were more transparent this time …we were criticised for rushing the nominations before Christmas.”   

Michael Gibson’s nomination was received on Thursday evening by Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett in the ”nick of time”, a spokesperson said. 

Mr Gibson said he had not considered nominating before the first round closed late last year, but after the only candidate was informally announced in early January, he thought he could offer something different. . .

Democracy and democratic principles are mentioned four times in 15 paragraphs of the story suggesting the party is on the defensive of a process which looks anything but democratic and is paying scant regard for democratic principles.

Labour bought itself an argument it didn’t need to have with its policy of a quota for female candidates.

It had one in Invercargill who had done the hard work of standing before but in an act which shows no regard for her re-opened nominations.

The message in that is they thought she was good enough to stand when she didn’t have a hope of winning against incumbent MP Eric Roy, but she’s not good enough  to contest the seat against a new candidate now he’s announced he’s retiring.

Helen Reddy might well sing, that ain’t no way to treat a lady.

It’s also not a good way to run a selection.

If Soper is selected she’ll handicapped with the reputation of the one the party didn’t think was good enough.

If Gibson wins, he’ll start from behind as not man enough to stand against Roy nor troubled by the ethics of trampling over someone who will be justified in feeling aggrieved at the way she’s been treated by a party not nearly as loyal to her as she is to it.

There is no doubt a popular local candidate like Roy attracts votes from people who wouldn’t vote for his party but National will be selecting a candidate by the truly democratic method of voting by members in the electorate.

He or she will start the campaign without the handicaps of internal party machinations.

S/he will have been selected without interference from the party hierarchy and with both the backing of the locals and the determination to do the hard work necessary to earn the votes to hold the seat for National.

 


Labour divided in Invercargill?

January 27, 2014

When Invercargill MP Eric Roy announced he was retiring from politics at this year’s election, Lesley Soper who has contested the electorate for Labour in the past confirmed she will be the Labour candidate for Invercargill.

That was just a couple of weeks ago but the grapevine tells me that Labour has re-opened selection for the electorate.

Is that right and if so does it mean there’s division in Labour’s ranks in Invercargill, or between the locals and head office/unions which have a big influence in the party’s candidate selections?

National hasn’t opened selection yet but its candidate will start with a very strong foundation thanks to the hard work done by the sitting MP who even his opponents admit is one of the most likeable men in parliament.

UPDATE:

This advertisement on Keeping Stock confirms what came through the grapevine:

invercargill


Loyal or hopeful?

August 30, 2013

Labour’s giving up on Invercargill but there’s still the odd loyalist down there who’s not giving up on the party:

soper

This is former MP and candidate, Lesley Soper,  who’s saying since there’s no leadership meeting scheduled for Invercargill she’s hoping to have a video of the candidates’ speeches from one of the meetings elsewhere at a local meeting.

Is she being loyal to the party which has shown no loyalty to her, or is she hopeful a change of leader will bring a change for the better in her list ranking?


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