The difficulty with the Left’s leadership

I thionk there’s two key things that many voters look for in political parties and in potential coalitions – a perception of competence, and capable and strong leadership.

The Left have problems in particular on leadership.

So far Andrew Little has failed to inspire as a leader. This is a significant problem for what should be the lead party in a potential coalition.

Winston Peters seems to be setting his sights high. It’s been reported as high as being Prime Minister for at least part of the next term. Peters seems to despise inexperienced wannabees leapfrogging his seniority. He seems to see himself as the de facto Leader of the Opposition.

New Zealand First is currently the smallest of the three Opposition parties. The Greens would presumably and understandably not be happy if Peters took a greater leadership role than them in a three way coalition.

But the Greens have a problem too – their dual leadeership might suit them in at a party level, but at a coalition level it dilutes their leadership.

Peters would not be happy sharing deputy leadership with two Green leaders who were at primary school when he first entered Parliament in 1978 (Shaw was five, Turei was 8).

It’s quite likely that the next election will be contested by John Key, undisputed leader of National, versus Little, Peters, Turei and Shaw, all competing for ascendancy.

When it comes to a leadership contest four versus one could be difficult to sell.

Peters vows to contest next election, unless….

This weekend NZ First are having their  22nd annual convention. For a support sized party they have done very well, recovering from a hiccup in 2008, recovering to get back into parliament in 2011 and building support in 2014.

Stuff reports: He’s 70, but Winston Peters has no plans to retire

Forty years after he first entered New Zealand politics, the NZ First leader is planning his next election campaign and heading into his party’s 22nd annual convention. Isn’t he tired of politics?

“Why would you ask that?” he chuckles.

“I’m 70 years old, that’s a fact. But the point is I’m in a job I can do and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

“I could give it up and my next big wish would be to spend time doing up boats and what have you. But the reality is, would I be interested after three months doing that? How many days can you go fishing?”

Bolstered by the Northland by-election win, he says he’ll stand again in 2017.

That will disappoint a few opponents but please most of his party, except perhaps for one or two with their own ambitions.

And Peters is pushing to build the party even more.

“This convention is all about two things: membership and money,” he says.

Head office will waive levies on electorates if they reach new membership targets. Peters is also a Facebook devotee. “We are the second highest on Facebook to John Key, we are past 40,000.”

That depends on who ‘we’ is.

The New Zealand First Political Party has 7,806 likes on Facebook.

It’s Winston Peters Politician who has 40,354 likes.

And other party Facebook likes:

  • Labour Party 40,322
  • Green Party 73,484

There is a lot riding on his personal appeal. Winston’s drive for more membership has been quoted as a condition of his carrying on.

Winston Peters has vowed to resign as NZ First leader if his party membership does not grow by at least 10,000 over the next two years.

In two years time we will be heading towards the next election. Will Peters stand by that? Maybe his new energy and charm will attract 10,000 new members so he doesn’t have to face that decision.

But if he steps down the forty thousand likes may step down with him.

UPDATE ALREADY (This is Winston): Winston Peters goes all-in on ‘tens of thousands’ NZ First membership increase

NZ First leader Winston Peters will resign if he fails to increase party membership by  “tens of thousands” in the next two years.

Peters made the pledge to become a “mass membership party” to reporters at his party’s annual convention in Rotorua on Saturday morning.

But…

…in a baffling exchange, he immediately backed down.

“We are targeting tens and tens of thousands of party members…we think that is possible,” he said.

Asked if he would resign if he didn’t meet that target, Peters replied: “Yeah. precisely. Because there would be no sense going on … two years flat … do we have a target of more than ten thousand? Yes we do.”

Then asked to re-affirm if he would stand down, Peters changed his mind.

He answered:  “No. I said if we don’t increase our membership. Go through it very slowly … maybe I didn’t hear it properly. But I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t wrong to the factor of three times that.”

So now it’s just “if we don’t increase our membership”.

There will be no way to hold Peters to account on his goal – he won’t release membership figures.

So Winston’s rhetoric wins again, whatever he meant to say.

NZ First youth wing

Following on from Curwen Rolinson and NZ First which shows that Rolison has for some time claimed to be part of a NZ First youth wing and has been described in media as president of it for at least two years – Winston Peters has stated there is no youth wing and therefeore there has ever bee a leader or predident of a youth wing.

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
7 JULY 2015

Statement on Curwen Rolinson

A remit proposing to formalise a youth wing is coming before the New Zealand First Convention in August.

Mr Curwen Rolinson was told countless times never to call himself the president or leader of a youth wing. New Zealand First does not have a youth wing in its Constitution, and therefore does not have a former or present president of such an organisation.

Wikipedia currently shows:

NZFirstWikipedia

That shows the Youth Wing is a thing but unofficial, but Wikipedia won’t be party controlled so that listing may be also unofficial.

Just after NZ First made it back into Parliament in December 2011 Stuff reported in Winston gives up the good life to ‘fix NZ’:

NZ First ended the 2008 campaign a broken party when it failed to return to Parliament after Mr Peters was dogged with controversy over donations.

The experience led to some members leaving NZ First disillusioned and privately expressing their disappointment that Mr Peters could have avoided the party’s time in the political wilderness.

Former MP Ron Mark said Mr Peters knew the NZ First brand was solid but he needed to repair and rebuild it.

Mark got back into Parliament last year and was recently elected party deputy by the Caucus.

After years of being urged to start a NZ First youth wing, Mr Peters finally took that advice on board. “There has always been a love for Winston at the universities.”

In 2013 Rolinson and ‘NZ First Youth wing’ were in the news (Dominion): NZ First social media shut

NZ First has shut down some of its social media pages following a complaint about the leader of the party’s youth wing.

NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson posted on Facebook that the party’s board of directors had tabled and accepted a complaint against his ongoing membership.

The board tabled the complaint on Monday night. It will be heard after the party’s convention this weekend.

Rolinson has been a member of NZ First since 2009, and was elected to the board in 2012 for a two-year term.

His post also said he had shut down the NZ First and NZ First Youth Facebook pages on instruction from party leader, Winston Peters.

“Accordingly, Winston has ordered ALL NZF social media pages to be shut down till this complaint has been heard next Monday.”

Peters declined to comment on the complaint, and there was no indication of when the party’s social media pages would be back online.

So Peters seems to have chosen not to comment on references to a youth wing then.

David Farrar Kiwiblogged on this with more details: NZ First youth wing head under investigation

Peters has promoted social media connecting with youth in a slightly different way:

Facebook election to find Winston Peter’s youth MP

New Zealand First leader Rt Hon Winston Peters will use a Facebook “election” to help uncover a deserving youngster to be his representative in New Zealand’s Youth Parliament.

Youth Parliament sees all MPs select a 16-18 year old to represent them in “Parliament” on July 16-17.

Peters was prominently involved in this:

That’s unrelated to a youth wing of NZ First, but I wonder if young party members like Rolinson were involved in making that a social media event.

In June 2013:

Back Benches – Youth Wing Special 2013

Our Panel: Young Labour President Jessie Lipscombe, New Zealand First Youth Representative Curwen Rolinson, Young Nats President Sean Topham, Young Greens Co-Convenor Lucy Gordon, and ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood.

Rolinson is promoted there as Youth Representative and not as leader or president but it would be odd if this didn’t have Peters and party approval.

Curwen Rolinson

There are many other media references on this, as far back as July 2011 in Leak for Winston Peters:

About 300 of his faithful followers attended the annual conference and a greater number were expected today to hear the leader’s speech.

Most delegates were aged over 60 but the party known for attracting the older voter could also be fielding one of this year’s youngest candidates if 21-year-old Curwen Rolinson, leader of the party’s youth section, gets the nod.

In 2012 Frank Macskasy profiled Rolinson’s NZ First History in Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference:

This online interview is with Curwen Rolinson, a member of NZ First’s Board of Directors; Leader, NZF Youth;  and “one-man nationalist revolution”.

Q: You’re a Director on NZ First’s Board of Directors. How long have you been a member of NZ First…

I joined up a little after the 2008 election.

I decided to go along to a local NZF meeting to see what the party was really like on the ground.

Afterward, Winston and I had a chat about tertiary policy and getting a youth wing going at university.

Also in 2012 in Otago’s student newspaper Critic

Critic loves to inform, so we talked to the Leader, and Troll-in-Chief, of Young NZ First, Curwen Rolinson, as well as “de facto Leader of Young NZ First Dunedin” Beau Murrah, about the policies behind the pinstriped suit and the smile.

It appears as if NZ First had an operational youth wing that wasn’t part of the party constitution.

Why Peters would worry about making the distinction now is curious – he might feel it’s embarrassing for the party that Rolinson has been charged with drug offences but Rolinson was an elected NZ First board member and obviously had close involvement with the party.

Curwen Rolinson and NZ First

Curwen Rolinson has been associated with NZ First – as Board member for six years so presumably longer than that. He has been reported as leading NZ First Youth.

It’s been reported today that Former NZ First youth leader on cannabis charge

The former president of New Zealand First’s youth wing has been charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

Curwen Rolinson’s always been a troublemaker for New Zealand First and now it seems he’s a law-breaker as well.

Police arrested the aspiring politician on April 15, and he since appeared in court charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

Former NZ First Youth president? A press release followed soon after this news under Winston Peters’ name:

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
7 JULY 2015

Statement on Curwen Rolinson

A remit proposing to formalise a youth wing is coming before the New Zealand First Convention in August.

Mr Curwen Rolinson was told countless times never to call himself the president or leader of a youth wing. New Zealand First does not have a youth wing in its Constitution, and therefore does not have a former or present president of such an organisation.

So NZ First are disowning Rolinson? He has certainly been connected with NZ First, but  in what capacity?

Searching the NZ First website on either his first or last name gets no hits.

He posts often at The Daily Blog and this one yesterday (6 July 2015) identifies him as a past Board member:

This piece has been a joint effort between long-serving former New Zealand First Board of Directors member Curwen Ares Rolinson, and a mysterious Southern gentleman known only as “Eduardo”.

There he is “former New Zealand First Board of Directors member” but in an earlier post on June 18:

Curwen Ares Rolinson was once, thanks to the Prime Minister, memorably investigated by the counter-terrorism branch of the NZ Police’s Special Investigations Group as a potential “Threat to National[‘s] Security”. He also blogs regularly at a variety of outlets; and heads up NZ First Youth.

This had changed to ‘former’ by June 27:

This piece has been a joint effort between long-serving former New Zealand First Board of Directors member Curwen Ares Rolinson, and a mysterious Southern gentleman known only as “Eduardo”.

On his Facebook ‘About’:

Former Board of Directors; at New Zealand First

Here is his resignation from the NZ First Board on June 14:

The very first thing anybody learns about me – apart from, possibly, the fact I’m an Aries … is that my life is completely dedicated to New Zealand First.

Earlier this week, I tendered my resignation from NZF’s Board of Directors, in protest against what I considered to be unconscionable and dishonourable conduct from same.

Needless to say, this saddens me greatly. My service unto The Party, as delivered from that highest echelon, has been one of the highlights of my young life. The resounding recognition received for same from the thousands of Party members whom I’ve met at Conventions and in my travels across the land has been truly humbling. As has their supreme confidence in me by continually re-electing me to the Board for six years running. Who’d have thought a political party best known for its advocacy for the aged would EVER have entrusted a young lad of 20 with elevation to its highest body.

I’m truly pleased with what I’ve been able to accomplish as a Board member. NZ First developed a Youth Wing, a Social Media Presence, and numerous other 21st century innovations in no small part thanks to my efforts (although it is also VITALLY important to recognize that I didn’t do any of this alone, and that other people – in the case of NZ First Youth, DOZENS of other people – helped to make it all possible).

But regardless of whereabouts I wind up in the organization, my core belief – that New Zealand First represents the best, brightest, and blackest hope for our Nation’s future salvation – remains absolutely unchallenged.

There has therefore never even been the vaguest hint of a question about whether or not our fates remain intertwined.

To quote from my letter of resignation:

“Having said all that: I wish to make one thing perfectly and absolutely clear.

I am not going anywhere.

I still resolutely believe in this Party – its ordinary members, if not always its leadership; its Leader, if not always his martinets; and its principles if not always their practical applications.

My heart is still Black; and the linings remain – as ever – Silver.

I will therefore be continuing in my membership of New Zealand First, my activities in running the Youth Wing, and my public representations on our behalf through media such as The Daily Blog. […]

I hope by offering my Resignation […] that this allows us all to move forward in relative dignity; and get on with the serious business of protecting and saving our New Zealand, rather than wasting your breath and my sanity on continued factional infighting.

Our mission, here in politics, is bigger than each of us and any of us.

I look forward to continuing to play my part within it.

Yours faithfully,

Curwen Ares Rolinson. ”

The Age of Ares is over.

“Acta est fabula, plaudite!”

Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.
Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.

Oddly from the previous day:

On Sunday, at our Party Convention, I was once again re-elected to NZ First’s Board of Directors.

I believe my campaign promises included “levity” and “keeping the bastards honest”.

I thank the Party for its ongoing faith in me and what I do :D

They’ve voted for me en masse in each of 2010, 2012 and now 2014, so I must be doing something right :P

Confusing.

Rolinson was referring to NZ First Youth still on July 4 (last Saturday):

New Zealand First Youth meetup last night. We look like a goddamn boyband.

 — with Simon Oh Ionmhainèain and 3 others.

Curwen Ares Rolinson's photo.

The NZ First – Pakuranga Facebook timeline shows him as “Curwen Rolinson from the NZ First Youth Wing“:

NZFirstPakurangaFacebookIn March 2013: NZ First Youth denies pledge at odds with party

The president of NZ First’s youth wing has signed a pledge in favour of same-sex marriage.

It is a move that goes against the party’s opposition to the marriage equality bill, which is due for its second reading in Parliament on Thursday.

NZ First Youth president Curwen Rolinson was one of eight youth party representatives who signed a marriage equality certificate outside Parliament this morning.

However, Mr Rolinson says his youth wing’s stance is not at odds with the party and his signing of the pledge was on the condition of a referendum.

He has an unofficially connected blog called Putting NZ First:

PuttingNZFirstblog

NO COMMENTS:

So it’s curious that NZ First seem to be trying to distance themselves from Rolinson’s party Youth wing activities when he has been a Board member for six years.

And if he’s been reported as NZ First Youth president for years why deny it now? Of course Rolinson’s arrest could be seen as embarrassing for the party but a belated cutting adrift won’t change much.

Related post: NZ First youth wing

Kiwiblog commentariat on summary justice and “shoot on sight”

David Farrar tries to laugh about dwarf throwing in a Herald profile of NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell in Profile of two NZ First MPs.

But that’s minor compared to comments where  there seems more serious intent, with the applauding of chasing and beating up, and the promotion of a shoot on sight police force or army.

These aren’t Farrar’s views but they are enabled through his liberal freedom to speak policy.

The Herald article details what started the discussion:

First-term MP reveals fight with gang member after threats to his life

An MP received a suspended sentence following a fight with a gang member who attacked him after being refused entry to a bar.

First-term NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell, 43, has reluctantly spoken about the incident, which occurred 18 years ago.

“The reality is, everyone has a past and I have got one, too. I have been involved in hospitality for 25 years and so, because you run bars and you stand on the front door, you do have, and I certainly have had, over the years, a lot of situations where you get put into very perilous situations.”

Mr Mitchell was in charge of the city’s Straight Shooters Bar in 1997, when a gang member with facial tattoos was refused entry.

“It turned into a confrontation, a physical one, he was a lot bigger than me, he was a very intimidating individual. I got a black eye and swollen face out of it.”

“He picked me up above his head and tried to throw me across the front entranceway, but I held on to his belt and got myself to the ground.”

Mr Mitchell, who went on to get a black-belt in judo and has taught boxing and women’s self-defence classes, said the man then told him he was going to get a gun and would return to finish him off. He now realises he crossed a line in following the gang member, he said, but at the time was in fear for his life.

“I followed him. I told the staff that were there to call the police, which they did, the police arrived, and by the time they had arrived I’d run up and gave him a beating, basically, gave him a bit of a boxing lesson.

“Had I just repelled him at the front door and left it, then he would have been arrested and there would be no charges against me.”

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like being caught up in a violent situation like this, but Mitchell concedes in retrospect that he crossed a line.

Not so some of the Kiwiblog commentariat.

Chuck Bird:

I am impressed by Clayton Mitchell. It is an outrage he has a record albeit a suspended sentence for what he did to a gang member who attacked him when other people with better connection get discharged without conviction and permanent name suppression for much more serious offenses.

Julian spoke against the summary justice tide:

Clayton Mitchell sounds like the sort of thug who should be locked up. He chased a retreating person down the street and beat him up. Scumbag.

BananaLama wasn’t having that:

Threatening to come back with a gun and shoot you isn’t retreating the gang member is lucky he only got a smack in the head to be honest.

David Garrett (the ex-ACT three strikes MP one):

Julian: We frown on “trolling” over here almost as much as at your spiritual home…If you had read the full story you couldn’t possibly have written anything so silly…

That starts with a false assumption. Julian quoted from the Herald story but Garrett responded:

Julian: what you are missing inter alia is: 1) who began the fight; 2) that one protagandist was a gang member; 3) what threats were made (in the hearing of witnesses); and 4) the disparity of size between the two…The prick ran away only because Mitchell had martial arts training, and wasn’t the pushover he had assumed him to be…

More assumptions, plus trying to justify chasing someone and beating them up.

Srylands:

Really? I am just reading the story at face value. If correct the “thug” should have received a commendation.

Are you serious, or simply trolling for attention?

Is Syrlands serious or just jumping on the bashwagon?

The ticks were leaning well in favour of the right to chase and bash but Julian persisted in challenging:

I’m happy to be in the minority, but I don’t agree that this thug should be congratulated for dispensing his version of street justice.

I presume the sentencing judge was well aware of all of Mitchell’s whiny excuses, namely: ‘he started it’, ‘but but but he’s in a gaaaaanngg’, ‘he threatened [threatened being the operative word] to get a gun’, and ‘he’s bigger than me’ (seriously!).

Boris Piscina:

Good on him. Good to see an MP with balls and the willingness to use them. In all honesty I can only think of half a dozen National members who wouldn’t shy from the spineless “don’t take the law into your own hands” doctrine beloved of our pro-criminal Police force and it’s wishy washy PC liberal apologists in Government (and yes I do mean the current Government).

RRM widened the discussion to dealing with all gang members:

Patched gang members should be rounded up and exterminated by the army.
Just lifetime criminals who have declared war on civilised society.

Gangs are a major problem. So is RRM’s solution, which came in to Garrett support:

RRM: A man after my own heart! I could never say such a thing when I was an MP, but that is actually how I think…I prefer to describe them as outlaws in the true sense; people who don’t believe society’s rules apply to them…That is the reason I understood where JC was coming from when she recently disagreed with the Judge in the Nelson drugs trial case… You don’t obey Queensberry rules in a street fight…

If they introduced a “shoot on sight” policy for patched gang members they would disappear overnight…as would most of the problem: they are just gutless scum without the patch…

I joined in:

If chase and beat the crap out of and shoot on sight were allowed and encouraged as some here wish then with 3 strikes we’d probably end up with a rapidly expanding prison population and increasing collateral damage of innocent people.

The problem with sanctioned thuggery, summary justice and vigilantism is you end up with an uncivilised society that adversely affects everyone.

Escalated violence in society can’t be ring-fenced.

Garrett qualifies his advocating for ‘shoot on sight’:

PG: I am not advocating – even half seriously – “shoot on sight” for the general public…that would lead to mayhem, and war on the streets…but I quite seriously regard gangs as behind the worse things in our society, starting with P manufacture…there are no “independent” P manufacturers, they are all controlled by gangs.

If, as RRM suggests, the army was tasked with eliminating them, how long to you think they would last? A week?

Of course it’s never going to happen, but one can fantasise…Do you disagree that the country would be a much better place without organized gangs?

Allowing the army to shoot on sight to eliminate anyone deemed a gang member from a distance is as stupid a thing I have seen you support.

I agree there are some lowlife criminal scum around, far too many of them. But lowering justice to their level (that is zero judicial process) is a terrible way to deal with it.

Of course the country would be a much better place without organized gangs – but you don’t realistically think they could be eliminated without collateral damage do you?

Despite the problems we have I like New Zealand because it’s like New Zealand, and not like Syria or Mogadishu.

I asked Garrett: DG – you’ve researched justice in different parts of the world – can you give some good examples of countries where an army has been used to successfully eliminate all gangs? Where it took longer than a week would suffice.

He hasn’t responded yet, but Dave Mann joined in:

I don’t think we need shoot on sight policy for gangs. I would propose that as they put themselves outside the law all gang members should be considered fair game and there should be no legal consequences for any action against them. Not everybody has a firearm, so we need to consider other solutions to the problem, such as running them off the road on their bikes or bulldozing their properties. Of course this doesn’t preclude shooting, but there are many ways to skin a cat.

It’s hard to know how serious those suggestions are. No one has ticked it up or down yet.

Then Alan Wilkinson introduced some common sense:

The best way to eliminate gangs is to cut off their money. The best way to cut off their money is to treat drug use as a medical problem (when it is even that) instead of a crime.

That wouldn’t eliminate gangs, the criminally inclined will always find ways of selfishly shitting on society, but it would substantially limit their income opportunities and their adverse influence on society. It would also be far more likely to retain a relatively decent society and maintain reasonable standards of justice.

NZ First slow to show new deputy

NZ First say that they had a vote for deputy leader last Tuesday, when Ron Mark defeated Tracey Martin in what is claimed to be a close vote and against the wishes of Winston Peters.

The NZ First website has scant sign that there has been any change in leadership.

Apart from Peters on their Home page the only sign of any other MP is a photo of ex-deputy, Tracey Martin (although on re-checking that is a coincidence of timing, it seems to rotate through the MPs), apart from an MP list with Mark well down the list (ninth, his 2014 list position).

NZFirstHome

There is no sign of change on their Our MPs page with Martin still at two and Mark still at nine in the pecking order.

NZFirstOurMPs

The News page highlights three old clips from Parliament, but if you scroll far enough down there’s an item on the deputy change from Friday:

NZFirstNewsPage

Curiously this highlights Martin rather than Mark.

However their Facebook page is more up with the news:

NZFirstFacebook

Greg Presland et al versus Helen Clark

Greg Presland has asked for help in researching a post on “all the stupid spends the Government has made lately”:

For a future post I would appreciate some help. The post is about all the stupid spends the Government has made lately. The list includes:

1. $28 mil on the social bonds policy.
2. $11.5 mil on the sheep farm in the Saudi desert where many of the sheep die.
3. $11 mil on McCully’s or Groser’s future New York apartment.
4. $30 mil to Rio Tinto.
5. ??? to Sky City.

Here’s some help on item 3, which has been widely criticised by opposition parties and activists.

Helen Clark backs New York apartment spend-up

Helen Clark says the $11.4 million the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent on a New York apartment is “definitely money well-spent”.

The ministry bought the apartment at 50 United Nations Plaza so diplomat Gerard van Bohemen, New Zealand’s representative on the Security Council, could be closer to the organisation’s headquarters.

The spend-up prompted criticism from Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First, but Ms Clark – a former Labour Prime Minister and as head of the United Nations Development Programme, the third-most powerful person in the institution – disagrees.

“The current residence is about 45 blocks away from the UN,” she said on TV3’s Paul Henry programme this morning.

“If you’re the ambassador and you’re trying to lobby for peace in the Middle East or some other cause, are people going to get in the car in the middle of the day in the rush-hour traffic of New York and go 45 blocks? Of course not.”

She says it’s more than just a place for the diplomat to stay while he’s in New York.

“This is an entertainment venue, a work venue for the New Zealand mission, and I can tell you there will be lunches – people will be coming over in the lunch break. It’ll be money well-spent.”

But what would she know.

Presland, Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First see far more importance in knee-jerk criticism and attack regardless of common sense and the political and diplomatic experience of someone like Clark.

Ron Mark – “we don’t find it strange at all”

Is Ron Mark the New Zealand First leader-in-waiting, ready to take over when Winston Peters bows out or conks out?

He was interviewed on The Nation yesterday (repeated Sunday morning on TV3 at 10 am) or you can watch here: Interview: NZ First Deputy Leader Ron Mark.

He uses the terms ‘bizarre’ and ‘strange’ – that could easily apply to the impression he leaves with this interview.

Mark  says what he probably needs to say about Peters being the unchallenged boss in perpetuity, but he seems to have some ambition, otherwise he wouldn’t have challenged for the deputy spot.

Mark is a politician with a lot of experience – as he demonstrated by blatantly misleading to media about taking over from Tracey Martin. He confirmed that the vote was on Tuesday but the announcement was deferred to Friday:

And once the votes were taken and the leader was confirmed, and the deputy leader was confirmed… The vote was taken on that. We also established an assistant whip which we hadn’t had before.

The Caucus determined that that should take effect as of the Friday at 10 o’clock, which gave people the chance to see what was left of that session, and we could go to the recess and come back tooled and ready to go. So, that was a Caucus decision to hold it till Friday, and so with effect 10 o’clock Friday, that was when their decision took effect, so…

On Tuesday Mark said: “No I’m not the new deputy leader, and we don’t discuss caucus matters.” (Newstalk ZB)

“Mr Mark also said he was not the new NZ First deputy leader, but would not comment on whether he had made or planned a challenge.” (NZ Herald)

To be fair to Mark it seems that he was bound by a strange Caucus decision to hold of announcing his elevation for three days. He, alongside Winston Peters and the rest of the NZ First MPs had to mislead and effectively lie about what had happened.

Mark was also contradictory when pushed to reveal the vote result.

So how did the vote go? Did you have a clear majority?
Oh, votes are always done in secret, and the votes were counted up by someone who wasn’t an MP, and, actually, no one knows the result.
Do you know the split?
No one knows the result… No one knows what the votes were at the end of the day

They must have been told the actual vote, surely.

Everyone knows the result. But we’ve been told that initially it was a draw. So was it a draw — straight down the middle?
Oh. You guys were saying all sorts of things that there was… Well, clearly it wasn’t a draw.

There were reports that it was a split vote that was resolved by a switch of sides by Richard Prosser. This may or may not be true.

Did Winston Peters vote for you?
I wouldn’t have a clue, actually.

It would be very unusual for a politician to bid for a higher party position without having a very good idea what the numbers were – and especially whether they had the support of their leader or not.

So were there 12 votes cast? Because we’re also hearing that someone abstained.
Oh, for God’s sake. See, this is the trouble. I mean… Nobody abstained, and the fact that that’s even a conversation is absolutely quite bizarre, but then a lot of bizarre things have been said over the last week, and we’re not responsible for that. The people whose mouths, those words, came out from, they’re the people responsible for that – most of them are journalists.

So he claims to not know what the vote was but is certain no one abstained.

What is quite bizarre is having a leadership vote and then pretending nothing had changed for three days. And then claiming to not know what the vote was but stating with apparent certainty aspects of the voting.

If Tracey Martin was doing such a good job, why did she have to go, then?
At the end of the day, it’s a democratic decision. People look at the candidates they have in front of them. They vote according to how they feel it should be, and that’s what happened. So it’s not for me, really, to answer questions like that.

It’s totally up to Mark that Martin ‘had to go’ – he decided that she should go and should be replaced by himself. He can choose whether to answer questions but avoiding them like this isn’t a smart look.

I suppose the thing is, Mr Mark, at some point the party is going to have to start thinking about life without Winston Peters.
Well, that point’s not too— I can’t see that on horizon right now, Lisa, because, you know, Winston’s yet to peak. He, against all the odds, after we got tossed out in 2008, he came back in 2011 against all the predictions, and I think this channel as well. 2011, he came back. 2014, he came back with more MPs. Now he’s just stormed the ramparts of Northland. Mark my words, he hasn’t finished yet, and if anyone thinks that Winston Peters is finished, all I’d say is smell the coffee.

That response can’t be taken seriously. The NZ First caucus chose a new deputy leader and then spent three days trying to fool the media and the country until confirming it had actually happened.

So it’s entirely possible that they are doing more than just thinking about ‘life without Winston’  but won’t be up front and honest about it.

That was most of the interview wasted playing media games with the process and the announcement.

Just before we go, I just want to ask – where do you stand on the spectrum? Because before you decided to stand for New Zealand First, I mean, you were at the National Party conference, you were even approached by ACT, so are you more comfortable to the centre right than the centre left?
Oh, I’m really comfortable as a New Zealand Firster and partly because we’re conservative but very much because we have a compassionate side to us and strong social conscience.

While they may see themselves competing with Colin Craig ‘compassionate’ and ‘conservative’ don’t seem to be prominent traits (of either) – Mark seems to be following in his leader’s footsteps with bull and bluster more noticeable.

Come on, Ron. Are you a possibility for working with the National Party?
I think New Zealand First, Lisa, could possibly work with any political party that’s prepared to do a deal that reflects more of our policies than they might want to consider. But, actually, our policies are all aimed at doing the best thing for New Zealand.

The best for New Zealand? Or the best for the New Zealand First constituency? Pushing for more free travel for pensioners is not exactly “the best thing for New Zealand”.

RonMarkStrange

“We don’t find it strange at all”

It looks like a strange interview to me. Ron Mark does deputy leadership takeovers well, and he does strange well too.

See for yourself –  a bizarre interview.

And the full transcript.

The curious attitude of Tracey Martin

Will Tracey Martin walk away tomorrow from a position of power she seems to have not wanted?

Martin has been replaced as NZ First Deputy Leader by Ron Mark in what is claimed to be a close vote, and against the wishes of Winston Peters. And seemingly with the full support of martin.

Martin’s reaction has been curious, as have past comments by her about her elevation in the party pecking order.

Just before the announcement yesterday that Mark was replacing her Martin tweeted:

Worth a re-read. :). Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow

This linked to a Stuff profile of her from two months ago – Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow – which suggests she wasn’t ambitious about leadership roles.

Living in the shadow of NZ First leader Winston Peters would be a cold place for many and while deputy Tracey Martin is no threat to his popularity she is successfully carving herself a place in Parliament.

As the party’s deputy leader she is the apparent succession plan for a party that seems to have prided itself on never having one.

That may sum up her elevation up the NZ First list and installation (until this week) as deputy – she wasn’t a threat to Winston.

Martin was a surprise pick for the deputy role and the unkind would say that’s because she wasn’t a risk of overshadowing her charismatic leader.

At the age of 50, Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow – a surprising claim from an MP only six months into her second term in Parliament.

Martin presents as very unambitious and not very committed – so why was she promoted and why was peters still, apparently, wanting her to remain as deputy this week?

In 2008 she was 13th on the party list and had no hope of making it to Parliament but when the listing committee, including her mother, met in 2011, she leaped up to second place.

“I deliberately said to my mother if she had any influence at all don’t make me number two because there was a certain group of people who were a bit anti the Martins anyway.”

But she was made number two anyway, and later she was made deputy leader, apparently against her wishes.

Better female representation is a long-term goal but for Martin the job is only a three-year commitment.

“And that’s only if you don’t cock it up.

“I could happily go home tomorrow and do what I love to do which is raising money to help my community.

“I’m not desperate to stay here and that’s because I think the absolutely worst kind of politician is a person who is desperate to keep their job because they’ll do and say anything to keep it.”

She doesn’t sound desperate to keep her job. Odd comments for an MP, it looks like she has been put into the party and the leadership against her wishes.

And the curiosity continued this week. It has been reported to be a close vote that deposed her as deputy, with Peters wanting her to remain as his 2IC. But from what she said yesterday she seems to support Mark’s elevation over her.

Stuff again, in Ron Mark new NZ First deputy:

Martin said she supported Mark and would never have been the deputy leader if he had been in the last caucus that appointed her in the role.

“I think I’ve done a really good job as deputy leader in the period of time I was required to do it. I think I did the best I could do with the experience I had.

“This isn’t an anti-me, this is the fact that Ron had years more political experience than I do and that is the right person in that place in that job going forward in this moment.”

This sounds almost like she would have voted for Mark against herself and against Peters.

Martin said there were no surprises over the announcement and she didn’t yet know what her future held.

“I hope to remain a well respected member of the NZ First caucus and Parliament. I’ll do my job and do it to the best of my ability.”

Except that yesterday she pointed out a two month old article that said “Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow”.

Very curious.

And now she finds in a position of less power. Will she walk away tomorrow?

Mark confirmed NZ First deputy

After a weird week of speculation Ron Mark was confirmed as the new NZ First deputy leader, replacing what is reported to be Winston’s choice, Tracey Martin.

It has been claimed this is the first time the NZ First caucus has decided something significant against Winston’s wishes.

This may introduce unfamiliar tensions within camp NZF. It has been widely known or assumed that Winston doesn’t tolerate any threat to his own leadership. Last term Brendon Horan and Andrew Williams were excommunicated, supposedly for daring to have ambitions that threatened Winston’s authority.

Mark is saying all the right things (that is, pandering to Peters) about his own ambitions, saying he sees Winston as the leader into the foreseeable future.

But whoever is deputy when Peters decides to retire (or otherwise ceases to be leader) will have the inside running to take over the top position, and it’s thought that Mark has his eye on this goal.

Mark is an experienced MP, having been in Parliament for about a decade before NZ First got rejected in the 2008 election.

He became mayor of Carterton and didn’t stand in 2011 when NZ First returned, but was reported to have been persuaded to stand last year.

Mark was apparently pissed off to be only placed at 9 on the list but with NZ First’s resurgence that was enough to get him back in.

The list selection is reported to be dominated by Peters and the party President, Tracey Martin’s mother. In 2011 Martin had been promoted to two on the list where she remained last election. So Mark has overturned the party rankings to get himself installed at second in command.

My impression of Mark in Parliament this year has been as a jumped up smart arse.

Perhaps the greater responsibilities he now has will morph him into a respectable and credible leader-in-waiting.

This should mean not trying to act like a young Winston clever dick. Time will tell.

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