Hipkins clarifies Northcote school rebuild not by-election related

Labour’s candidate in the Northcote by-election, Shanan Halbert, tried to capitalise on a school rebuild announcement in his campaigning.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins clarified – albeit a day later – that the rebuild had nothing to do with campaign promises, it would have happened anyway.

Democracy weeps as cynicism swamps Northland by-election

The Northland by-election began sort of normally. Labour’s candidate from the last election, Willow-Jean Prime, put up her hand to stand again soon after the by-election was announced. She and Labour then launched a normal looking campaign.

But then a week later King Cynical confirmed he would also stand, claiming Northland had been “forgotten”. Winston Peters hadn’t stood for a northern electorate since the 1970’s – before Prime was born and NZ First hadn’t stood a candidate for about a decade.

Some of the media jumped on the Winston bandwagon, becoming his willing orchestra “because Winston is fun” – and generates headlines. The free publicity given to one candidate is far more cynical than journalistic.

Next to join the cynical politics was Labour leader Andrew Little. He has all but strongly endorsed Peters, even repeating Winston’s main ‘send a message” message many times. And he has effectively dumped Prime under Winston’s bus.

Not to be outdone John Key and National have knocked things off the cynicism scale.

John Armstrong writes in National crosses into the cynical side of politics.

Brazen, shameless, cynical and more than a little desperate – yesterday’s contribution from National to the Northland byelection campaign was about as subtle as the concrete blocks which will go into the construction of the replacements for no less than 10 existing single-lane bridges in the electorate. Now we know why the Transport Minister goes under the name of Bridges.

The announcement heralded the return of pork-barrel politics – not so much with bells on as an orchestra at top volume, and with a lot more pork and precious little barrel.

Pork-barrelling has become less furtive under John Key’s prime ministership. The Future Investment Fund – which holds the billions of dollars from the sale of shares in the big state-owned electricity generators and Air New Zealand – has long been attacked by National’s opponents as the ultimate “slush fund” which the governing party uses to fund capital spending on major infrastructure items, such as new schools and hospitals.

Yesterday’s announcement is classic pork-barrelling. It indicates three things: that National is seriously worried that Winston Peters may well carry off what initially was seen as an unlikely victory; that such a victory will have serious implications for National’s legislative programme; and that National has few scruples about how it halts Peters’ momentum.

Prime has been muzzled, and Little may feel chastened with a strong negative reaction to him undoing his “cut the crap” persona by shitting on his own candidate while trying to maintain two contradictory messages.

But expect Winston to rise to the challenge and go toe to toe with National on cynical.

Big Time Wrestling has more credibility than the Northland campaign.

It’s a pity there’s no candidate standing for “Pox on All Parties” to really send a message to the campaigners on cynicism overload.

Meanwhile democracy weeps.

Conservatives opt out of Northland by-election

Colin Craig has come out of political hibernation to announce that the Conservatives won’t stand a candidate in the Northland by-election. NZ Herald:

Conservatives skip north’s byelection to avoid giving Peters a fillip

Conservatives leader Colin Craig says the party decided it would not stand in the Northland byelection because it did not want to split the centre-right vote and help Winston Peters.

Its candidate also had a new baby and was not available, he said.

The party executive met on Saturday and made the decision.

An easy decision probably, especially if it would have required a new candidate. Last election the Conservatives did relatively well in Northland:

  • Conservative candidate Melanie Taylor votes: 1,555
  • Conservative Party votes: 2,243 (6.31%)

But without the attraction of a party vote a new candidate would have struggled to get attention or support, so it’s wise for them to opt out, along with getting in a wee dig at Peters.

So far the following candidates have been announced (nominations close tomorrow):

  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour)
  • Robin Grieve  (ACT)
  • Winston Peters (NZ First)
  • Mark Osborne (National)
  • Rueben Taipari Porter (Mana)

Of those Willow-Jean Prime is the only candidate who stood in last year’s election in Northland.