By-election in Clutha-Southland

What are the chances of a by-election in the Clutha-Southland electorate?

It has been  reported that 24 year old MP Todd Barclay, or something related to him in his electorate, is subject to a police inquiry. See Police involved in MP complaint.

Two of Barclay’s staff members have resigned, as has his electorate chairman who said his position was ‘untenable’.

There has been talk of a secret recording being made, but (and this is only online speculation) there are suggestions the problem could potentially be more serious.

There have been posts about this at Kiwiblog – More weirdness in Clutha-Southland – and The Standard – Wee Todd Barclay may have a wee problem with discussions about possibilities in comments.

National have already had electorate problems this term, at the other end of the country in Northland. MP Mike Sabin mysteriously resigned not long after the 2014 election, and the damage from that and the skilled political opportunism of Winston Peters meant an embarrassing electorate loss for National, and the loss of a crucial seat in Parliament.

National can ill afford to lose another electorate and another vote in Parliament.

What are the chances of a by-election in Clutha Southland? I don’t know, it’s too soon to tell.

Could National lose the seat in a by-election? I doubt it, it currently has one of the biggest National majorities in the country. And Winston Peters is tied to his electorate at the opposite end of the country.

Comparing the two electorate party vote results from 2014:

CluthaSouthlandNorthland

Barclay got a similar electorate vote (63.27%) to the party vote.

Labour’s candidate Liz Craig bettered her party result with 19.62% but it’s hard to see a Labour candidate getting close in a by-election. In the past two elections they haven’t stood a local candidate. Craig is an epidemiologist from Dunedin (Otago University child health academic). And  in 2011 Labour’s candidate was Dunedin chiropractor Tat Loo (aka Colonial Viper).

NZ First didn’t stand a candidate in either electorate in 2014.

After Peters won Northland in the by-election last year Southlander Ria Bond entered parliament as NZ First’s next list candidate. But she hasn’t got anything like Peters’ experience or profile, and her background in the hairdressing industry is unlikely to gel in a largely rural electorate.

Bond didn’t stand in an electorate in 2014 so presumably has scant campaigning experience.

So it looks unlikely that National could lose Clutha-Southland in a by-election.

But they could lose a lot of votes and be embarrassed, not just be a reduced winning margin but by the bad publicity another electorate MP in trouble would give them.

Currently John Key and Bill English (who had been Clutha-Southland MP until going list only in 2014) are publicly standing by Barclay.

But they and National can’t risk botching another MP scandal. The Clutha-Southland electorate is probably not a serious threat for them, but the overall party vote and their hold on government could take a serious hit.

A young and inexperienced MP in a super safe seat could potentially end the Key Government’s tenure.

Whatever the police are investigating and whether the police lay charges or not may determine whether there is a by-election in Clutha-Southland.

How National are seen to handle it may significantly influence the outcome of the next election.

Team Key and English are one of National’s  main strengths. Hugging another political corpse would not be a good look. They must have checked out the risks that Barclay poses, it would be politically stupid not to have.

Giving an impression of sweeping things under the carpet will be a bad look.

The Clutha-Southland may not be at risk for National, but Government could be.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Robby

     /  13th March 2016

    Yes, well, strange things are obviously afoot in the Clutha-Southland electorate, but as usual neither the National Party, nor the MSM see anything. The truth will come out eventually…..

    “National have already had electorate problems this term, at the other end of the country in Northland. MP Mike Sabin mysteriously resigned not long after the 2014 election, and the damage from that and the skilled political opportunism of Winston Peters meant an embarrassing electorate loss for National, and the loss of a crucial seat in Parliament.”

    “Skilled political opportunism’, is a bit of a cynical way of describing Winstons’ win. He could have VERY easily run a dirty campaign, but chose to keep it clean. And he won.

    Out of respect for the rules of Petes Blog, well, thats all I’ve got to say about that… 😦

    Reply
  2. Janet

     /  13th March 2016

    The Party line is that it is normal to have change with a new MP – can imagine that is true! What is not normal, and what has increasingly become apparent for some time now, is how he acts like a neurotic feudal overlord. For example, what first term MP doesn’t attend their first Regional Conference? Then he abandons his heartland support for the bright lights of Queenstown. Yeah, he’s a good Party man.

    Reply
    • Robby

       /  13th March 2016

      They seem to be ‘closing ranks’ around Mr Barclay. “Nothing to see here, move right along….” How many skeletons are in your closet Todd????

      Reply
      • Janet

         /  13th March 2016

        There is certainly mounting concern with the people I know (not National Party people). In isolation you can thumb your nose at most of the whispers and I’m guilty of having had a good laugh at some of them, but accumulated they paint a picture of inevitable embarrassment for the National Party. If the recording proves to be real then that just may be the gracious exit strategists require to suggest he consider an alternative career – right now though it sounds like they are crossing their fingers and wishing the problem away.

        Reply
        • Robby

           /  13th March 2016

          Would never be a problem, even if it ever did reach court. All detail of everything would be suppressed (to protect the victim/s of course, even if they waived their right to anonymity), and another National MP might just ‘fall off the radar’.

          Reply
          • Janet

             /  13th March 2016

            Mmm. Ok. Perception is appalling if true though don’t you think – morally corrupt if that’s his idea of how to move a staff member on. I have never met the staff member in question and am not a member, but do know members who are just good hardworking, salt of the earth types who want the best for NZ and their communities – they’re not rabble raisers like I’ve seen alluded to. That just seems like a far too convenient narrative to dish out. They’re good people.

            Reply
            • Robby

               /  13th March 2016

              No disrespect intended towards the staff whatsoever. The people who choose to work behind the scenes in any political party are it’s backbone. They do what they do because they have a real passion for what they believe in, and aren’t driven by their egos, nor a need for recognition. When three such individuals quit in rapid succession from the same office, a ‘difference of opinion’ is a piss poor attempt at an excuse. What did you do Todd????????

            • Janet

               /  13th March 2016

              Well put!!!

  3. Pete Kane

     /  13th March 2016

    Here’s Key on Monday morning, Not really sure what to make of John’s comments there.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201792108/key-backs-barclay-over-staff-resignations

    And Barclay on Tuesday.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201792268/todd-barclay-admits-he-has-made-some-mistakes-as-a-new-mp

    Can’t say I’ve heard anything since gather than the ‘local’ postings from YNZ. But have no doubt missed some.

    I could imagine a fair bit of pressure on those offices given the current Dairy situation. they maybe regretting not having attracted a rural ‘heavy weight’ for the arguably National’s safest seat.

    Reply
  4. I assume they will try and get him to 2017 and drop him ..

    Reply
    • Kate

       /  13th March 2016

      That would be the best outcome – last thing we need is a by-election. The branches and members hold the power come selection time to manage the process, which will unfold as it should.

      Reply
  5. 😦 I thought you were announcing a by-election PG! Got my hopes up there. Another opportunity for Winston Peters and NZ First … ??? 🙂 He could have the ‘head’ and the ‘foot’ of the country!

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  13th March 2016

      “By-election in Clutha-Southland?”

      Time has meant I’ve hardly followed any our MSM because of an interest in the American scene. Luckily, checked the Herald Politics section this morning, and thirty seconds later YNZ. Was a good thing, as my keyboard doesn’t prefer tea in the mornings.

      Reply
    • “Another opportunity for Winston Peters and NZ First … ???”

      Read what I wrote. There’s no opportunity for Winston, he’s already committed to an electorate. And I don’t think there’s anywhere near similar opportunity for NZ First in Clutha-Southland..

      Reply
      • Sprung … I’m a slow reader, fast writer … I commented on the heading alone …

        You’re right, NZ First would have to come up with a candidate other than Winston to begin with. First big problem and a huge one to boot! 🙂

        A combination of dairy downturn and more National scandal – if such were to eventuate – might loosen the Nat’s grip on Clutha-Southland though? They might go ‘Green’?

        Nahhh, on second thoughts …. 😀

        Reply
        • As I wrote I see little chance of National losing Clutha-Southland but if they make a mess of this then it increases their chances of losing New Zealand (as ruling party).

          Reply
          • Aghhh, sprung a second time! I’m outa this topic … :-/ I’ll become a Troll …

            Clutha-Southland can’t go Green, they’d have to stop pouring nitrate fertilizers, bovine faeces and sediment into their rivers down there …

            Reply
            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  13th March 2016

              They won’t go Green down there because the locals like to deal with facts not fantasy……..

  6. Zedd

     /  13th March 2016

    Somethings obviously amiss in Clutha-Southland.. BUT again ‘Team Key’ just grin & say ‘nothing to see here’ !
    Well.. we shall see :/

    Reply
  7. Janet

     /  13th March 2016

    Senior politicians retiring from electorate work don’t have a great track record for anointing the best successors: Muldoon – Simich, Bolger – Adern, Shipley – O’Connell (let’s not resurrect that conversation lol), Birch – Hutchison. Moral to the story – Parliamentary Wing should leave selection processes to the Party members who put ego aside. :-/

    Reply
  8. Pythagoras

     /  13th March 2016

    Where’s Alan, when we need him, to tell us that the muted rumors are nothing but a left-wing conspiracy, or some such explanation?

    Interesting Herald article (once you get past the headline) about Bill English today
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11604661
    Let’s hope he achieves something.

    Reply
  9. John Schmidt

     /  13th March 2016

    What could the young MP possibly do that it needs the police to investigate a possible criminal offence. Club, associations, or other like organisations have little tiffs all the time with people resigning over principle, hardly a police matter. If these people are employees who did not like the boss it’s an employment matter and again not a Police matter. So the only thing left is a criminal offence and for now it can only be speculation.

    Reply

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