Political operators and lobbyists being used by media promoting leadership coup

The media were always going to give a lot of coverage to a major party leadership challenge, as they did when Simon Bridges outed the challenge of Todd Muller and the subsequent showdown and change of leader. It was big political news and should have received prominent coverage.

But it also showed a major flaw of the media – their use of political operators and lobbyists to comment on the story.

Matthew Hooton is often used by the media in support of stories, even though he is a professional lobbyist. He was given a shot at promoting his agenda without having to disclose any possible involvement in the challenge.

And Michelle Boag suddenly popped up out of the woodwork to and was quoted a number of times in support of a change. She would be most unlikely to be an independent observer.

NZ Herald – Anatomy of a coup: How Todd Muller felled Simon Bridges and who helped him

This is behind their paywall, but a key part is repeated on Twitter:


RNZ 18 May: Labour surges, National plummets in Newshub-Reid Research poll

“Clearly the leadership has failed. Simon Bridges is down to 4.5 percent. The public simply does not like him, that isn’t fair, the public simply did not like Andrew Little.

“He’s a perfectly pleasant person Andrew Little but the public did not like him, and so Labour had no choice in the end but to get rid of him, and National is now at that point.”

RNZ 19 May: Political poll results with Hooton and Jones

“This is a 25-point gap between National and Labour and that’s simply extraordinary. And the National Party has to take that very seriously, they are taking it seriously, although they do expect another poll to come out on Thursday from TVNZ by Colmar Brunton, and they’ll just see what that has to say.

“If it is as bad as this, I would expect there would be enormous pressure on the current leader and deputy leader to at least offer their resignations to the caucus.

However, a better showing in the Colmar Brunton polling might give Simon Bridges a lifeline, he says.

A “hunk” of National MPs are reluctant to be responding to polls, Hooton says.

“Their views on this is what’s going to decide Simon Bridges future.”

RNZ 21 May (audio): Collins key to National Party battle – Hooton  Political commentator Matthew Hooton speaks to Kim Hill.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Political commentator Matthew Hooton said Bridges’ move to call the leadership vote was an own goal.

“I think it was another example of the poor political judgement that has plagued his political leadership quite frankly.

“I think Simon Bridges’ move yesterday was probably one of the most extraordinary acts of political harikari that we’ve seen.”

Hooton said Muller’s supporters would likely have lost their nerve there would have been no challenge.

“But by taunting Muller, forcing him and … Nikki Kaye to act … there is now a vote on Friday.

“And I think, the way this is going, Mr Bridges will lose and Muller will become leader of the party.

If Bridges survived the leadership vote it would cost the party any chance of winning the election in September, he said.

If Muller and Kaye failed in their challenge Bridges would demote them to the backbenches which would cost the party votes.

“He cannot afford to lose Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye from his senior team, or else he will lose support from both farmers, provincial New Zealanders, and also urban liberals in Auckland.

RNZ 22 May (audio): Commentator backing Muller to win National Party challenge Political commentator Matthew Hooton is supporting Muller to win – Kim Hill asked him how close does he expect the vote to be.

But Hooton was promoting leadership change – in a last NZ herald column last month (24 April) Matthew Hooton (column): Simon Bridges’ leadership beyond salvaging

Hooton is a regular on RNZ and in NZ Herald and is usually a worthwhile commentator, but it’s fair to ask whether his opinions promoted this week were independent of the leadership coup.

If it turns out he was working for Muller that would not reflect well on him due to lack of disclosure, but woukld also refelct poorly onn the media who give him free publicity.

Michelle Boag is not a regular on media, but managed to be given a say on the challenge too.

Newstalk ZB 19 May – Michelle Boag: Bridges could be another victim of Covid-19 fallout

Michelle Boag says it’s no surprise people have responded positively to the Prime Minister – whose ratings shot up to almost 60 percent.

She told Chris Lynch Arden’s been visible everywhere during the pandemic and Bridges hasn’t.

“There is no doubt there’s a good chance of him becoming yet another victim of Covid-19.”

She says that will be up to the Caucus to decide the leader’s fate.

RNZ 21 May: Former National Party president Michelle Boag on leadership challenge Former National Party president Michelle Boag speaks to Corin Dann.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Former National Party president Michelle Boag told Morning Report Bridges shot himself in the foot by holding the vote tomorrow rather than next week.

This was because it made it harder for other leadership contenders to jump into the race, and those unhappy with Bridges’ leadership could rally around one candidate rather than their votes being split between a number of challengers.

However calling for the leadership vote was the right decision, she said.

“I think it’s the right thing for the National Party to get this sorted as quickly as possible and I think the caucus will be really pleased to have an early opportunity to do that.”

She said the need for a leadership vote was not solely prompted by the recent poll.

“It is about months and months, and sometimes years, of these MPs having negative feedback about their leader, not only from party members but from constituents.

“So while the poll may have been the thing that sparked [it] – the catalyst for this challenge – there’s no doubt this has been building for a long time.”

Boag popping up in media is a sure sign that she is promoting some sort of outcome.

I think that with important political issues, and leadership changes rank right up there, media should take care not to promote people with interests in the outcomes.

Cameron Slater, one of the most agenda driven political operators around, was given some oxygen by John Banks on radio during the week to talk about the National leadership challenge, but the only leader Slater seems interested in promoting these days is Winston Peters.

‘Not a coup’ in Zimbabwe

There is confusion over whether there is a military coup taking place in Zimbabwe, but it seems likely that Robert Mugabe is being replaced as president.

Time: Zimbabwe’s Military Has Taken Control of the Capital

After a night of confusion in which tanks rolled onto the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, the country’s military said early Wednesday that it had taken President Robert Mugabe into custody. While the armed forces appear now to be effectively in control of the city, a military spokesperson took to the airwaves to insist that what just happened was not a coup d’etat.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” the spokesperson said on a nationwide broadcast after soldiers took over a state-run television channel. “We are only targeting criminals around [Mugabe] who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

The spokesperson also said the military guaranteed the security of Mugabe and his wife, and sought to reassure the public the situation would soon “return to normalcy.”

The crisis was caused by a power struggle over who would succeed the 93-year-old dictator. It also marks the end of the political aspirations of Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace Mugabe, who is reportedly in custody with him.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that armed soldiers in armored vehicles had been stationed throughout the capital, and that at least three explosions were heard. Soldiers then took over the headquarters of the state broadcaster and announced that they were now in charge as the president and his wife were detained.

The military’s intervention comes less than 48-hours after the army commander warned that he would “step in” to calm political tension should a recent purge of government officials continue, and about one week after Mugabe sacked his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Is it a coup?

That depends on who you ask. It has all the hallmarks of one, including foreign embassies issuing warnings to its nationals and the takeover of a national broadcaster, but the military insists that it is not a takeover.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which is funded by the government, praised the military’s action as “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power,” according to the Associated Press.

What now?

Experts speculate that Mugabe will be held as a figurehead until a new ZANU-PF leader is anointed. “The military, using the leverage gained from the insurrection, is likely to broker a power sharing deal and transitional agreement between President Mugabe and former VP Mnangagwa” IHS Markit Analyst Theophilus Acheampong says in an email. “Mnangagwa is likely to lead a transitional government, which will likely be composed of his allies including former finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.”

It may take some time to see what the end result is, but it will be a big change if the rule of Mugabe has ended.


Irony on coup claim

I think there’s a real possibility that there is a coup attempt unfolding inside and against National, blue on blue. The gradual drip feeding and attempted entrapment of Bill English looks like someone or some people have a serious political agenda. I suggested this last week.

Someone else is also suggesting a possible coup: Are we witnessing a very Kiwi Coup?

I think we are witnessing a slow motion coup.

Middle NZ rewards convincing political liars & punishes incompetent ones.

Bill English is being destabilised in front of our eyes because someone has reaped a heavy political price from deep personal pain. Todd has been sacrificed and Bill destabilised right when a totally fabricated Labour student slave story suddenly erupts via a right wing political news blog.

Who has fed this information to the NewsRoom?

Watch how nasty this now turns. Blood is in the water.

Someone is drip feeding this.

I think there could be some validity to these suggestions. More specifics with names were already mentioned but I think that may be guesswork perhaps with utu in mind.

But these claims are highly ironic given who wrote it – Martyn Bradbury.

I’ve also already written about how it looks like Bradbury may have had some involvement, at least on the periphery, of a type of coup attempt in Labour.

Matt McCarten was certainly involved, as was Mike Treen, and Bradbury may have revealed more than he should have (as usual). Ex unionist and ex campaign manager for Jacinda Ardern, Paul Chalmers, has also been involved and has now stepped down as Auckland representative on Labour’s NZ Council.

Bradbury posted about ten far left policies designed to Corbynise their campaign that Labour’s head office refused to adopt.

It appears Auckland’s Labour left tried to drive the Labour bus in their own direction, and crashed.

So while Bradbury may have a valid point or two about National’s mess it is very ironic for him to talk about party coups.

No delight in Turkish situation

The reaction by President Erdogan to last week’s failed coup attempt continues.

NZ Herald: Turkey seizes over 2,250 institutions in post-coup crackdown

Erdogan told France 24 on Saturday that Turkey has no choice but to impose stringent security measures, after the attempted coup that killed about 290 people and was put down by loyalist forces and protesters.

Some of the measures:

  • imposed a three-month state of emergency
  • seized more than 2,250 social, educational or health care institutions and facilities that it claims pose a threat to national security
  • detained or dismissed tens of thousands of people in the military, the judiciary, the education system and other institutions
  • mass dismissals of Turkish teachers
  • closure of hundreds of schools
  • patients at hospitals are being seized and will be transferred to state hospitals
  • the Turkish treasury and a state agency that regulates foundations have taken over more than 1,200 foundations and associations, about 1,000 private educational institutions and student dormitories, 35 health care institutions, 19 labor groups and 15 universities
  • those dismissed cannot work in the public sector and cannot work for private security firms
  • suspects can be detained without charge up to 30 days
  • all detainees’ communications with their lawyers can be monitored upon order of the public prosecutor’s office

From Al Jazeera: Turkey detains top Gulen aide after coup attempt

  • Turkish authorities detained on Saturday a key aide to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Muslim cleric Turkey blames for a failed military coup attempt
  • Turkish authorities also detained a nephew of Gulen in connection to the coup attempt
  • tens of thousands of people have been detained, sacked or suspended in the wake of the failed coup, as the government vowed to “cleanse” the civl service from Gulen supporters
  • 37,500 civil servants and police officers have so far been suspended, including many from the education ministry
  • more than 10,000people detained (more than 7,000 of those are soldiers, including at least 120 generals)
  •  4,000 arrested
  • authorities would disband the elite presidential guard after detaining almost 300 of its members

Many Turks will be far from delighted.

Turkish coup failure

It looks like the coup attempt in Turkey is over and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is back in control. That could mean even more draconian control then before.

There have already been severe restrictions on media and social media. That may get worse.

And the death penalty may be introduced fore those guilty of treason.

The Guardian summarises in Attempted coup in Turkey: what we know so far:

The attempted coup

  • An attempted military coup has apparently been defeated in Turkey, in a bid to oust the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accusing him of undermining the country’s secular traditions.
  • Erdoğan, who returned to Istanbul in the early hours of the morning from his holiday in the resort of Marmaris, said the attempted coup was “treason” undertaken by “a minority within our armed forces”.
  • The president urged people to take to the streets in defence of the government, prompting chaotic scenes as thousands protested alongside tanks.
  • Theprime minister, Binali Yıldırım, declared the first stage of the coup over and said coup fighters using military helicopters would be shot down.
  • There were mass surrenders in Istanbul, with about 50 soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul abandoning their tanks with their hands raised.
  • The head of the armed forces, General Hulusi Akar, who was reportedly taken hostage, has been freed.
  • But a pro-coup military faction insisted it would continue its fight and there were reports of ongoing clashes in Ankara, where a building in the parliamentary complex was bombed overnight.

Deaths and arrests

  • More than 190 people have been killed, according to General Umit Dundar, the acting chief of the general staff, including 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people described as “coup plotters”. A further 1,440 people have been wounded.
  • Sixteen people involved in the attempted coup were killed in clashes at military police command, and 250 others arrested.
  • Separately, 13 soldiers who tried to storm the presidential palace in Ankara have been arrested.
  • In total, 2,839 members of the armed forces have been arrested, among them 29 colonels and five generals. Rear Admiral Nejat Atilla Demirhan and General Memduh Hakbilen, the chief of staff of Turkey’s command for the Aegean region, are said to be among those detained.

Erdoğan’s response

  • In a defiant address to supporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, Erdoğan said the armed forces needed to understand that they were not in charge of the state, saying the coup plotters had brought out tanks, but “my people” had taken them back.
  • In an earlier statement, the president said the failed coup represented an opportunity to “clean out” the armed forces.
  • He also accused “those in Pennsylvania” – that is, the cleric Fethullah Gülenand his supporters – of betraying the nation and orchestrating the coup.

Turkey on Saturday

  • Yildirim has called an emergency meeting in parliament on Saturday.
  • Flights were diverted from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and departures cancelled after reports of explosions there but are now resuming.
  • Turkey has closed border crossings to Bulgaria, which said it was beefing up its own border controls.
  • Media outlets including CNN Turk that were shut down by soldiers during the attempted coup are returning to the air.
  • Authorities in Turkey may be blocking or slowing access to social media networks including Twitter and Facebook.


Coup attempt in Turkey

More turmoil in the Islamic world with reports of an apparent coup attempt in Turkey.

Stuff: Turkish military in attempted coup, prime minister says

A group within Turkey’s military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup, the prime minister says, with military jets flying over the capital and reports of vehicles blocking two major bridges in Istanbul.

Turkey’s military said on Friday it had seized power, but prime minister Binali Yildirim said the attempted coup would be put down.

If successful, the overthrow of President Tayyip Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, would amount to one of the biggest shifts in power in the Middle East in years.

The armed forces had taken power in the country to protect the democratic order and to maintain human rights, the military said in a statement sent by email and reported on Turkish TV channels. All of Turkey’s existing foreign relations would be maintained and the rule of law would remain the priority, it said.

BBC: Turkey army group announces takeover on TV

An army group in Turkey says it has taken control of the country, with bridges closed in Istanbul and aircraft flying low over Ankara.

PM Binali Yildirim earlier denounced an “illegal action” by a military “group”, stressing it was not a coup. He said that the government remained in charge.

Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

There are reports of gunshots in the capital Ankara.

Other reports said soldiers were inside buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster in Ankara.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police HQ and tanks are said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport. All flights are cancelled, reports say.

CNN Turk reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “safe” but did not elaborate.

A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: “The power in the country has been seized in its entirety.” Who represents the group remains uncertain.

Regardless of the outcome more instability is one of ther last things the Middle East needs. Turkey is closely involved with the civil war in Syria and has had serious tensions with Russia recently.

Jim Waterson Retweeted Laura Pitel

Nothing says “I’m in control” like addressing the nation over Skype on a mobile phone.

Turkish TV broadcasts a message from Erdogan claiming he’s in control and will punish the coup leaders:


Erdogan: I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. There is no power higher than the power of the people.

A certain grim irony in Erdogan who shut down free media and tried to shut down social media now having to make his statement via facetime.

NBC reporting US military source claiming Erdogan denied landing rights in Istanbul and seeking asylum in Germany.

Turkish military says in statement: to restore constitutional order, human rights, rule of law and democracy we have taken control.

France 24: Chief of Staff of the Turkish army is dead (unconfirmed)

BREAKING VIDEO: Military Helicopter Opens Fire On Turkish Intelligence Agency HQ

Corbyn faces coup

The Guardian has details of an impending coup attempt in the British Labour Party following the EU referendum.

The claim “An overwhelming majority of the shadow cabinet now believes Corbyn should quit”.

Hilary Benn seeks shadow cabinet backing to oust Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn faces a coup this week by members of his shadow cabinet, led by Hilary Benn, the Observer can reveal.

It is understood that the shadow foreign secretary called fellow MPs over the weekend to suggest that he will ask Corbyn to stand down if there is significant support for a move against the leader. He has also asked shadow cabinet colleagues to join him in resigning if the Labour leader ignores that request. A spokesman for Benn declined to comment.

An overwhelming majority of the shadow cabinet now believes Corbyn should quit in the wake of millions of Labour voters ignoring their leader’s advice to vote in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the EU and amid the possibility of an early general election.

The development comes as leaked internal Labour party polling of people who voted for Labour in 2015 reveals that nearly a third (29%) would support a different party if a general election was held today.

A Labour source said: “MPs and members were worried about their prospects at the next election under Corbyn, but thought they had four years to turn things around. Now many fear they may have just four months if a snap election is called.”

The development looks likely to be the most serious threat to Corbyn’s leadership yet, with many MPs claiming that he must be unseated by the end of the week for Labour to remain an electoral force.

It surprised many that Corbyn was voted by party membership as leader, and he seems to have failed to transform from maverick backbencher to widely popular leader.

And David Cunliffe agrees that Labour has a Corbyn problem:

John Drinnan Retweeted David Cunliffe
Corbyn lack of leadership was dismal imo

has been virtually invisible I agree

So was the swing hard left a mistake? Or was Corbyn simply the wrong gamble?

Peters can’t name his deputy

Today Winston Peters coudn’t or wouldn’t name the deputy leader of NZ First. That’s bizarre.

There seems to have been a flare up of a battle for the deputy position, with claims that Ron Mark has challenged Tracey Martin for the leader-in-waiting slot in the NZ First caucus.

Peters was asked after the meeting who his deputy was. NZ Herald reports in Winston Peters: No comment on coup:

He was asked repeatedly by media who his deputy leader is and whether he could confirm Ms Martin would remain in that position.

“I cannot discuss caucus business, that’s confidential. I am restricted by that. We do not discuss caucus business outside of caucus,” Mr Peters said.

Sure he can’t discuss abacus business out of caucus. But not naming and refusing to confirm who the party deputy is seems nonsensical.

Martin sat beside Peters in the deputy’s seat in Parliament soon afterwards, so refusing to comment was a futile refusal to open.

Afterwards, most NZ First MPs refused to comment, but Denis O’Rourke confirmed that Ms Martin remained deputy leader.

Why couldn’t Peters confirm that? It should have been an automatic response.

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.

Mark could also confirm  he wasn’t deputy without breaching caucus confidence.

Radio NZ NZ First quiet on rumoured coup attempt:

Ms Martin herself refused to talk about anything that may have happened in caucus, saying she had no comment.

Not confirming she was still deputy also seems bizarre.

They all refused to comment, citing caucus confidentiality – including Mr Peters.

“I’m restricted by that, which we’ve had as a rule for 22 long years.”

He was asked by reporters why he could not just confirm there had not been an attempted coup.

“Well look, excuse me, I just gave you an answer, which is total if you follow it slowly – we do not discuss caucus business outside of caucus.

Sounds like blanket evasion.

Patrick Gower reported on 3 News that a coup attempt failed after Peters stepped to support Martin. Martin’s mother is reported to be close to Peters and is party president.

John Stringer and the Conservative coup

John Stringer has lead the calls from within the Conservative Party to oust Colin Craig not only as leader but right out of the party. He has made himself available to media and also seems to have been leaking information to Whale Oil.

And Stringer has opened up even more via a lengthy article. Stuff looks Inside the Conservative coup (from Stringer’s point of view).

John Stringer took down Conservative Party founder Colin Craig in a messy public coup and has risked the future of the party. He tells PHILIP MATTHEWS what happened and why.

“I’m just sick of it,” he said. “We’ve had this North Korean culture of don’t cough while the leader speaks. But the board process has broken down. Colin has driven a Mack truck through that and it’s in disarray.”

The main why seems to be “a strong and righteous public stand against his erratic and embarrassing former leader”.

It seemed that Stringer was enjoying himself. He is a veteran of conservative Christian politics and this story, on this particular day, was the biggest one he has ever been “enmeshed in personally”. But it was not just about the limelight.

It seemed that Stringer was enjoying the moral crusade, taking a strong and righteous public stand against his erratic and embarrassing former leader.

And plenty of detail follows.

When he wrote to other board members, in another leaked letter, he said it was “unconscionable” to him that some of them could still be supporting Craig. As a former Anglican pastor, he could not.

“The lies, the deceit, the false information,” Stringer said. “The guy’s lying through his teeth and it’s just shocking.”

Even Craig’s brother Andrew quit the board on Tuesday. “Andrew and I are good friends,” Stringer said.

Have the brothers had a falling out? “Let’s put it this way. Andrew’s very disappointed and shocked at Colin’s behaviour.”

That’s the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ that Craig has admitted but not been specific about.

 we are mainly talking about allegations of inappropriate behaviour with former press secretary Rachel MacGregor.

Rumours have circulated for months. When MacGregor suddenly resigned just two days before the election, the timing was “strategic”, Stringer said. He knew exactly what it was about as he had written to Craig several months earlier and told him, “this is what’s going to happen. And that’s exactly what happened.”

“There is no question he perhaps used his position of influence and authority over her to pester her. My understanding is that she rebuffed that on the basis that he was married because she is a good Christian girl.”

She was annoyed enough to take it to mediation at the Human Rights Commission. But so far there are few details in public about what happened.

“There were poems being written, there were letters being written, there were sexts being sent. There are folders full of this stuff. We were told it was unsolicited and unwanted and he kept persisting.”

The romantic traffic was entirely one-way, Stringer believed. When we spoke, just one poem from Craig to MacGregor had appeared on the Whale Oil site; Stringer was expecting more to leak over the following days.

The poem seemed silly but relatively innocent. It spoke of a naive infatuation rather than filth and tawdriness.

“That’s just an opening shot from Whale Oil. They’ve told me they’ve got nuclear bombs to drop this week.”

The ‘breaking news’ post at Whale Oil over a week ago presented as responsible journalism. Since then Slater has reverted to playing dirty strategic dirty political games, and it appears that Stringer is directly involved.

A “direct source” apparently handed this material to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

“That’s all I’d be prepared to say. I know who it is.”

There have been a number of pointers to who this might be – and there’s a strong suggestion it could be ‘Dirty Politics’ with a familiar team involved.

“.The material is actually coming from a variety of different sources. I’ve not actually seen it. I’ve asked to see it. I’m prepared to fly somewhere and see it.”

That’s a curious claim, He has also said “there are folders full of this stuff” and there were claims that some has been shown to the board to convince them to dump Craig.

Is Stringer relying on assurances of evidence from Slater without having seen the evidence himself?

Some of the “sexts”, meaning sexual text messages, have been read to Stringer over the phone. On one hand, this is all good political entertainment and gossip. On the other, the leaking of private messages to Whale Oil is textbook dirty politics, which seems especially problematic coming from a group of people so committed to morals and values.

A moral crusade using and working with the king of political dirt does seem an potential problem.

Craig is a politician and this scrutiny of his private life is arguably in the public interest. But MacGregor? She is a private citizen dragged through the muck, silenced by a confidentiality agreement that Craig seems to have broken.

Stringer agreed that “she is the victim in all this”.

Perhaps. She certainly seems to have been a victim of Craig’s attention.

He was “appalled” as he watched the press conference during which Craig breached confidentiality, as Craig is usually such “a stickler” for legal rules and is the first to reach for a lawyer when it suits him.

“If you in any way breach anything like that, he will haul you over the coals.”

But the detailed information that has been leaked would have to be from someone who had it – either Craig or MacGregor, and the latter is the most likely. It seems that Stringer hasn’t considered the obvious suspicions.

Stringer was a fan of Craig, turned critic. From:

He was a defender of the leader on his own blog, back when others were mocking Craig about wacky moon landing and chem trails theories. He wrote: “You don’t own five successful businesses and one of New Zealand’s largest commercial property empires worth billions in assets in your 40s by being an idiot.”


The more he got to know Craig, the stranger Craig began to seem. Stringer turned into a critic on the board, questioning the way Craig managed people. He noticed that Craig would isolate and turn against critics, such as former candidate Larry Baldock, who was expelled in March.

“The Rachel situation and the sauna stuff is really just indicative of a long pattern of judgment calls and behavioural issues. We were very critical of the management of the campaign.”

And it seems there are also political and party management differences.

During the campaign, Craig released details of the sale of the Lochinver station to Chinese interests. It was classic nationalist politics but Stringer said it cost the party Asian backing.

“I thought it was despicable and racist. There are people who are interested in supporting the Conservative Party who haven’t because of Colin Craig. Cabinet ministers have told me we’ve got a place and they would like us to be there if we just got rid of Colin. I get that from professional people all the time.”

Stringer even believes that the Conservative Party could be in Parliament now were it not for Craig’s “mismanagement” of the relationship with National.

So it seems this is all as much to do with political ambitions as it is moral crusades and inappropriate behaviour.

Leadership conversations started before Christmas, spearheaded by Stringer. There could be a team leadership model so that Craig “wouldn’t be an Ottoman sultan anymore”.

But it became obvious over the past week that none of the presumed likely candidates for leadership – Christine Rankin, Garth McVicar or Bob McCoskrie – were interested. Stringer?

“People are asking me. I’m certainly not putting myself forward, but do we need some political experience, which I’ve had. I have the time. I have independent means. I really do believe in the Conservative Party as an entity and I think it can survive, but it’s really going to take strong decisive leadership over the next few days to make that happen.”

That sounds a bit like he wants to lead but isn’t confident enough to put himself forward.

I rang Stringer two days later for an update.

He had just seen the new Roy Morgan poll which had Conservative support steady at 1 per cent, the same as Act, “despite everything”. And with National slipping, a safe and loyal junior partner looks more necessary than ever.

That’s poor analysis of the poll. The polling period was nearly all before the Conservative Party blew itself up. And while National dropped it was from an unusually high previous poll and they are still polling above last year’s election result.

What now?

Craig was still desperate to return as leader and had reportedly accessed the 9000 names in the party database to solicit grassroots support. Stringer had been locked out of the website while Craig’s staff members deleted all critical comments.

Still, any provisional board of Craig supporters would be “illegitimate”. Even if Stringer was a board of one, he would still have legitimacy. As it stood, he remained confident of bringing in new allies and convincing a few ex-board members to return for a full meeting on Saturday.

It’s difficult to see how a board of one would have ‘legitimacy’. Now the other board members have resigned (all of the others including the chairman have now) there would surely have to be a party election of officers.

Apparently their rules require a quorum of two. That Stringer can’t hold on to one other board member is as damning for him as it is for Craig.

“This has been one of the most catastrophic political meltdowns in New Zealand history and our constituency is still there,” he said. “The Colin Craig stuff is a sideshow really. We can outlive this and then we can start to rebuild.”

And Stringer has played a significant role in the Conservative catastrophe.

His optimism was admirable. I had noticed in his online biography that he had a MA in Classics from Victoria University. That meant he knew what a pyrrhic victory was. No matter who won, Craig or Stringer, the Conservative brand might be so damaged as to be worthless to the victor.

“That’s fair,” he said. “That’s something we will see played out over the next 12 months. The feedback I’m getting from party members is that they are rallying and we will put some distance between us and Colin Craig. People will begin to respond to the fact that we have a different Conservative party, not framed by Colin’s agendas and his kookiness.”

Craig is reported to be talking as if he has the popular support of remaining members.

It’s looking like a major split in what remnants of the Conservative Party there are.

It looks like Stringer has been driven by his political ambitions and played by others with more selfish ambitions.

Labour coup unfolds, unravels

Last night there was a flurry of speculation, followed by denial, after Duncan Garner tweeted that a Labour leadership coup was under way.

Stuff report that there were murmurings all day in More rumours about Shearer leadership:

Labour leader David Shearer is facing more destabilising rumours after batting off speculation all day that a letter of no confidence was being circulated among his MPs.

The rumour started circulating early in the day but the Mps named as being behind the move hotly denied it and Shearer said through a spokesman there had been no letter and the claims were rubbish.

Soundings among party insiders suggested there was no push on but the latest speculation will not help his leadership after earlier rumours of a leadership push before the end of the year.

The Twitter frenzy began at 9.o5 pm with claims and comments amongst journalists and party members evolving into Labour MP denials and confrontations led by Grant Robertson.

This is how it unfolded.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
David Shearer’s slammed suggestions of a leadership coup as innuendo and rumour.
Good source. Coup on in Labour. Letter of no confidence being circulated. It’s over for Shearer. Watch for his resignation.

The thing is there is nothing wrong with Shearer, its all the bloody in-fighting between MP’s. Seems they all HATE each other!

How long do you think he’ll last? Probably not long now!

Scott Murray@kashyyyksdad
Im surprised its taken this long! #goodbyedavid

Really? Be interesting to see if it holds true or is just some weird form of internal mudraking.

When did Whaloil become a good source?

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
Wrong. Internal caucus source.

dave @caffeine_addict
so, looks like it is over for David Shearer…

Giovanni Tiso@gtiso
Bloodless coup, Grant Robertson steps in? That’s where I placed my money not two weeks ago.

Most likely option I reckon. Ardern for deputy. Hard to argue against it.

Doesn’t work that way any more. Membership will vote on it. Members and affiliates have 60% of the votes on leadership
I would fall over in shock if there wasn’t a contest. This is all speculation, of course.

What if there is only one candidate?

That would be very unlikely, given the state of the party right now.

Kiwiblog posts: Garner says Labour coup is on

If this is right, then a fascinating Robertson v Cunliffe battle for the leadership – unless they do a deal and one does Leader and one Deputy.

Or will Little stand also and try to be the candidate in the middle, who can appeal to both the left supporting Cunliffe and the ABC faction? If Robertson is seen as too tied up in the recent bad political management, Little could come through the middle.

Sam @The Standard
Apparently being driven by Shane Jones – aiming to get Little in, with him as number two. Egos over brains! That’s going to be just what the party/ country needs!

And before we get carried away with planning the future of Labour, are we only speculating because of a tweet by @Garner_Live ?

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
I’ll be on @RadioLIVENZ shortly with what i know

Joel Rowan@RealJoelRowan
Is there really a spill in Labour? Is this a social media social experiment? Is it an iPredict market moving exercise?

Not going to do a Gillard and be stampeded into a showdown. The posturing never stopped.

Toby Manhire@toby_etc
“I’ve pretty much said it all in that tweet.” Duncan Garner on the radio.

Your source is full of crap. No letter. No leadership challenge. Stop making things up.

David Farrar (Kiwiblog):

Now I don’t believe Garner is making anything up. I have no doubt a source has told him that there is a letter of no confidence.

However it is possible Garner is being played by someone in Labour trying to destabilise Shearer. This was the Rudd vs Gillard strategy – keep the speculation alive, so the leader is so weakened that have to go.

Whether Garner’s source is correct or not will become apparent with time. Fascinating to watch.

Heh. Shane Jones et al decide David Shearer should be gelded rather than them.?

Fair to say @chrishipkins hasn’t been given any letters to sign, then.

I’m too tired to stay up to see if there is anything in this coup thing. Ill be able to pick it up in the morning right?

Garner has just said on Radio Live that @patrickgowernz has the letter and will show it on Nightline TV3.

Cunliffe just left the chamber behind Goff live on screen with a writing pad! #doingthenumbers

Well, Garner reckons Patrick Gower has the #spull letter and will be on Nightline, so let us await the veil-dancing.

James Macbeth Dann@edmuzik
Hi, I’m a politician who’s stupid enough to sign a letter asking my leader to resign, then pass it to Patrick Gower to wave around on TV

Giovanni Tiso@gtiso
If Patrick Gower really has a copy of the letter than I’d say the Labour caucus should resign en masse. Shut the whole thing down.

Uh oh.

We have more fun in the Labour Party. Boring stable Nats.
Seriously, with all this intrigue and backstabbing, how could anyone not want to be a member? Get involved! Bring your own knife though.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
And ignore sources about the truth? Go to bed if you’re not interested in what’s going on. This is journalism.

Dumber things have happened. But so far this doesn’t look like a #spill: its a #twill (a spill on twitter)

@chrishipkins set to be demoted after @nzlabour coup @Garner_Live

Nah I’m Mt Roskill. Actually I asked Goff last week if he was standing again: “Of course. Reagan wasn’t President until he was 70”
…which didn’t seem relevant until tonight..

Haven’t come across a single Labour MP that’s confirmed speculation about David Shearer’s leadership Had a few denials tho

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
Gower not on nightline… labour MPs denying letter of course… Text book coup, 60 day warning, man ban, letter, denials, denials, gone.

David Farrar

UPDATE3: Garner now says Gower not on Nightline. He has tweeted:

This makes me think that there is no coup letter (at this stage), but that someone in Labour has started a destabilisation campaign.

Denials, no sign of a letter, no evidence of a coup. It all adds up!

dave @caffeine_addict
so Paddy doesn’t have the letter?

If there is no #spull, I’m circulating a letter of no confidence in Garner.

No letter, no Nightline story, no substance. Manufacturing news plain and simple.

James Shaw@jamespeshaw
So, what you’re saying is, you got nuthin’?

Annette King@annetterongotai
@patrickgowernz @Garner_Live dont wait up Emma its a whopper! If Paddy is not on Nightline with a letter, apology Duncan??

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
Textbook coup… How’s the ABC club tonight?

dave @caffeine_addict
hey @samdurbin my sources tell me that Whaleoil is not @Garner_Live s source. Garner is still a journalist. Gower is quiet though…

Toby Manhire@toby_etc
unlikely any no-conf ltr cld get numbers w/out support of @grantrobertson1 – and he RTed this from @chrishipkins

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
Duncan, I have now confirmed with the whole Caucus. There is no letter. This is just made up. Apology?

David Farrar:

UPDATE4: Grant Robertson has tweeted he has contacted every Labour MP, and they all deny there is a letter. So I think nothing is happening for now. However, the fact someone in Labour is creating trouble is not good for them.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
You’re being lied to Grant. I can’t apologise for that.

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
your evidence? This is irresponsible journalism. You are better than this.

Shayne Currie@ShayneCurrieNZH
Herald’s @CTrevettNZH has sources saying David Cunliffe has personally assured David Shearer he is not mounting any challenge

Damian Christie@damianchristie
“Why are you going red Mr Garner?” “I don’t know, why are you sweating Mr Robertson?” “I’m wearing a scarf.”

dave @caffeine_addict
do you or Paddy have the letter or not? If not, why did you say Paddy did? @grantrobertson1 If so why not televise it.

H du Plessis-Allan@hdpaNEWS
If you’re still up, it’s interesting watching Labour round on @Garner_Live over his claims of a leadership coup and associated letter.

Toby Manhire@toby_etc
Alrighty, off to bed. Those prank calls seem to have worked a treat.

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
@patrickgowernz You have said there is a letter, where is it?

Annette King@annetterongotai
@emmawehipeihana @patrickgowernz Im waiting for the apology! Bullshit make news generated by Slater, Hooton- new mates Dunc?

Chris Hipkins@chrishipkins
@RadioLIVENZ That won’t take long given there is no substance to it. Unless you’re just going to make it up.

Trevor Mallard@TrevorMallard
So @Garner_Live did @patrickgowernz lie to you ? Or did you just make it up. Whichever you look like a prize dick

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
@patrickgowernz American bag men, assault etc… Trev….

Annette King@annetterongotai
@Garner_Live Time for evidence now. As Key would say cough up or shut up!!

David Cunliffe@DavidCunliffeMP
@Garner_Live well said Chris. Coup rumours ridiculous

Christine Ammunson@2TAPU
Political vs Media drama on Twitter better than Shortland Street, acting is better too

Thanks @Garner_Live for keeping us up chasing your elusive tale, making phone calls all night. Good laugh though eh?


looks like @Garner_Live should lead Labour. He’s done what no one else has managed for five years: united the entire caucus.

H du Plessis-Allan@hdpaNEWS
Grant Robertson sounds like Duncan’s dad “@grantrobertson1: @Garner_Live This is irresponsible journalism. You are better than this.”

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
yep, he’s grounded, has to come straight home from school+under no circumstances is he to talk to the Gower boy 😉

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
I expect a full exclusive on this revelation on #sevensharp tomorrow. There’s a rumour I’m his Dad, and that’s all you need right?

dave @caffeine_addict
That was the biggest story NOT to make the news RT @caffeine_addict: Gosh this is embarassing for TV3. I think Garner stuffed up tonight.

Tim Murphy@tmurphyNZH 7h
Coup crash landing – 1 reputation injured.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
You know it’s true Bazza…

David Farrar@dpfdpf
Worth recalling that Kevin Rudd denied he would challemge Gillard right up until two hours before he did challenge her! #mpslie

Hamish Coleman-Ross@HamishCR 
Listen here to @whaleoil on @RadioLIVENZ with Mitch Harris talking about the @nzlabour coup

RadioLive: Cameron Slater on Labour Party coup – Audio

Ruth Wynn-Williams@ruthtvnz
Stayed up to see the floor show play out on the late news #tumbleweed

Damian Christie@damianchristie
Garner’s, Peters’ and Dotcom’s evidence walk into a bar…

Take it from a twice-deposed leader of two parties: @Whaleoil is a really shitty source you guys. @Garner_Live @GuyonEspiner

@grantrobertson1: @Garner_Live u said Paddy would produce. He is making u look dishonest

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
@grantrobertson1 Mallard and honesty? Mate….

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
almost went to sleep then knuckles Mallard popped up talking about honesty… I’m trying to stop laughing…

Hohua Pihama@jcphitchcock
Struggling to remember a more entertaining night on twitter.
Political journalism is a lot like a bunch of 5 year olds playing sport. Everyone runs around chasing the ball, ignoring the wider field.

@hdpaNEWS Its on twitter. Must be true.

“I thought YOU had the letter.” @Garner_Live “I thought YOU had the letter” Producer: “Ten seconds till we’re live, guys..”

Many denials but can’t find a single Labour MP or none MP to confirm on or off record that letter circulated or a coup under way.

yet there is a story on Stuff talking about the rumours?

Sorry? did you not hear the rumours?

isn’t that the point. rumours. that you can’t substantiate. for record, I have confirmed with whole Caucus, there is no letter.

Can’t see where we say substantiated, but they exist. You been trying to debunk ’em all night. Are we expected to ignore?

yes. if everyone is denying and you have no evidence to contrary. just repeating a rumour does not give it vailidity.

@VernonSmall Sometimes reporting news involves setting record straight.

@VernonSmall possibly. But story can also serve to give credence where there is none. bed time 🙂

By morning the supposed coup is being mentioned in news as rumours, fairly low key.

A coup is widely expected, Shearer is seen as dead leader walking. It’s just a matter of when.

Whether this was a genuine coup attempt or not it continues the active destablising of Shearer’s leadership from within the Labour caucus.

If this was not a coup attempt it was major mischief making, following the leaks to Patrick Gower last week about a spring deadline for Shearer to shape up – and since then Shearer has been found wanting seriously with his mishandling of the “man ban” issue.

And this morning Labour are in full denial mode, with Shearer appearing on Firstline strongly denying any leadership bid (looking as unconvincing as ever) and his deputy Grant Robertson backing him up:

RadioLIVE Newsroom@LIVENewsDesk
Labour deputy Grant Robertson is adamant no letter is circulating amongst the Labour caucus calling for a vote of no confidence in Shearer.

colin espiner@cespiner
yes David Shearer, that’s how coups generally start.

Chris Trotter on RadioLive: Labour Leader facing “worst kind of coup” – slow and agonising – commentator – Audio

“Probably the worst kind of coup.”

“A clear majority that would wish David Shearer gone.”

“I think what Duncan got was a bad steer, but a bad steer serves the purpose”.

‘Harriet’ @Kiwiblog:

“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.” – Julius Caesar.

If Robertson, Little or Cunliff don’t finaly act today, then they will lose the next election and be put to the sword – as no one likes to see cowardice or weakness in a potential PM.

The pussies won’t – and shall die by a thousand press reports talking about it.

That’s a major problem for Labour. Shearer was widely condemned for failing to act quickly or decisively on the ‘man ban’ issue.

His opponents in Labour’s caucus are failing to act and are indecisive, making more of a mess of Labour than one unfortunate leader.

‘Geoff’ @The Standard:

Nothing’s going to happen. The vampire zombie old guard are thwarting the possibility of a better NZ as they hold the tiller steady while we go over the waterfall. We’re going about things the right way if we want to guarantee a National win next year folks.

To all you Shearer/Robertson supporters out there: Thanks for condemning us all to another shitty 3 years.


“This is the ridiculous sort of thing that’s circulating around now, where people are trying to make the news rather than report on the news,” says Mr Shearer.

“And all I want, and all anybody wants, is a fair go. A fair go to be able to have facts reported rather than innuendos and rumour that stacks up as facts, and people reporting on that.”

Anthony Robins @ The Standard – Much a coup about nothing

It looks like someone has played Garner / Gower here. They would do well to ask themselves why.

There should be plenty of comment on this thread. The Standard is generally pro-Labour but has been anti-Shearer.

Patrick Gower@patrickgowernz
Just catching up on last night’s tweets. Obviously wasn’t on Nightline & don’t have letter!

Imperator Fish blogs: That letter

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live trickgowernz
you gotta work harder PG…. Your 60 day source has the answer… go see that person ASAP.

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
@Garner_Live @patrickgowernz but, you said there was a letter and Paddy had it. Where is the letter?

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
@grantrobertson1 @patrickgowernz It’s with the GCSB tape you and Shearer had. Destroyed after being outed.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
@patrickgowernz I’m loathe to name the caucus sources here Grant obviously you know I can’t do that. But you probably know

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
@Garner_Live @patrickgowernz not asking you to name sources. you said there was a letter+ Paddy would show it on Nightline. Where is letter?

Bill Ralston@BillyRalston
Odd how Labour MPs engage on twitter with journos over coup rumours. Deny, deny, deny. Just adding fuel to the fire.

Duncan Garner@Garner_Live
@BillyRalston They’re all leaking Billy then lying to Grant about it. Toxic.

James Elliott@JamesElliott8
I reckon there is a coup going on in the Labour Party because the utter incompetence of its apparent execution is very authentic.