What can English do now?

In the wake of the Todd Barclay mess a lot of suggestions have been made about what Bill English should do.

Andrew Little said on RNZ: ” Barclay is causing chaos, and that it’s totally unacceptable that Bill English hasn’t insisted he cooperate with the police”, but it would be totally inappropriate for English to insist that Barclay do something he isn’t legally required to do.

There have also been calls (not by Little as far as I’m aware) for English to dump Barclay from standing again in Clutha-Southland .

This may not be easy or advisable as @MatthewHootonNZ explains.

  1. Those asking to announce he is cutting loose need to read r115-116 of constitution.
  2. You can find it here: https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/National_party_rules_0.pdf
  3. Then ask yourself what happens if just said “nah”.
  4. Then ask how long it would take for the necessary decisions under rules 115 and 116 to be made.
  5. Take into account that each of those decisions are subject to judicial review.
  6. Then ask whether it really would be a good example of leadership for to make the bold demand for his resignation sought.

Here are rules 115 and 116:

Withdrawal of Endorsement

115. If it appears to the Electorate Executive that formal withdrawal of Party
endorsement of a selected constituency candidate is in the interests of the
Party, and the candidate is unwilling to withdraw his/her candidature, the
following procedure shall apply:

(a) Approval shall be sought by the Electorate Executive through the
Regional Chair from the Board for the Board to undertake a meeting
to consider withdrawal of endorsement;

(b) If such approval is given by the Board, then at least two days prior
notice of the Board meeting at which the withdrawal of the Party’s
endorsement of the candidate is to be discussed, and the fact that
such withdrawal is to be discussed, shall be given to the Board
Members and to the candidate; and the chairperson of the electorate
and the Regional Chairperson who shall be entitled to attend the
Board meeting.

(c) The candidate shall be invited to attend the said meeting and prior
to any motion being put to the meeting to withdraw the Party’s
endorsement of him or her, he or she must be informed of the reasons
for dissatisfaction with his or her candidacy and given an
opportunity to state his or her case; and

(d) A resolution of the Board withdrawing the Party’s endorsement shall
be effective immediately if passed by a majority of those present and

116. If it appears to the Board that formal withdrawal of Party endorsement of
a selected constituency candidate is in the best interests of the Party as the
actions of the candidate are prejudicial to the interests of the Party and the
candidate is unwilling to withdraw his/her candidature, and the Electorate
Executive has determined not to initiate withdrawal in terms of Rule 115(a),
then the following procedure shall be apply:

(a) The Board shall convene a Board meeting with the Chairperson of the
Electorate concerned and the Regional Chair of the Region concerned
to consider withdrawal of the endorsement;

(b) If a meeting is convened, then at least two days prior notice of the
meeting as which the withdrawal of the Party’s endorsement of the
candidate is to be discussed and the fact that such withdrawal is to
be discussed shall be given to the Electorate concerned and to the

(c) The candidate shall be invited to attend the said meeting and prior
to any motion being put to the meeting to withdraw the Party’s
endorsement of him or her, he or she must be informed of the reasons
for dissatisfaction with his or her candidacy and given an opportunity
to state his or her case; and

(d) A Resolution of the Board withdrawing the Party’s endorsement shall
be effective immediately if passed by a majority of those present and

There are good reasons why it is deliberately difficult for a Prime Minister to dump MPs. Candidates are chosen by electorates, not by the party leader.

Deborah Russell to stand for Labour in New Lynn

Labour have selected Deborah Russell to stand for them in New Lynn over several local contenders. Russell announced her intention last year and moved to Auckland from Palmerston North. Several local candidates stood against her but she prevailed.

Russell stood in Rangitikei in 201, losing to National’s Ian McKelvie by over 10,000 votes.

Russell would probably be good for Labour if she gets into Parliament, but there’s likely to be some very unhappy Labour members in New Lynn after an outsider has been parachuted in to probably the seat after David Cunliffe’s exit.

NZ Herald: Deborah Russell to stand in New Lynn

Deborah Russell has been announced as the Labour Party’s candidate to contest the New Lynn electorate in the general election.

Russell, a tax expert from Massey University, will replace the outgoing David Cunliffe from the traditionally safe Labour seat.

Russell was seen as an outsider in the bid to be Labour’s candidate, but had the support of the party’s hierarchy.

The ‘party hierarchy’ also prevailed with an outsider over a local candidate in the Hutt South selection.

There has been a lot of controversy this week over Andrew Little recruiting Willie Jackson with a promise of a high list placing.

The announcement was made by Labour’s general secretary Andrew Kirton on Twitter this afternoon.

Russell previously told the Herald there were difficulties in trying to get the selection as an outsider, but she was contacting party members in New Lynn to try to secure support and had promised to move into the electorate if selected.

“I’m making sure I’m familiar with the issues here, but I’m also promoting myself as someone who can operate successfully on a national stage as well.”

One of Russell’s first tasks will be to win the support of the electorate Labourites. She stood against Greg Presland who had been Cunliffe’s electorate chairperson.

This is likely to be contentious at The Standard where Presland is an author.

Someone unwilling to identify themselves has posted Deborah Russell for New Lynn:

Senior Lecturer and tax law expert Deborah Russell has won the Labour selection for New Lynn – congratulations! You’re going to make a fantastic MP! Home team candidate Greg would also have made a fine choice, alas that only one of them can represent the electorate.

Early in comments Michael:

An outstanding candidate selected for New Lynn. That’s one seat Labour should retain.

it would be surprising, and catasrtophic for  Labour, if they lost the electorate.

Response by someone from the electorate, Amakiwi:

The Labour caucus learns zero about democracy. What the locals want counts for nothing. OK.

If the caucus don’t need me I don’t need them either. I’ll have a closer look at the Greens.


Ok, those of us in New Lynn have missed out on having an electorate MP that’s on top of local issues and representing those effectively in Parliament, in favour of someone whose expertise is on issues with nationwide effects.

I’m only a little bit disappointed, coz I rate them both very highly.

Rangitikei result 2014

New Lynn result 2014 (Cunliffe won by over four thousand votes but Labour lost the electorate vote to National by over a thousand votes).

Should MPs serve their whole terms?

I think that normally someone who stands for Parliament as an electorate MP or via a party list should be expected to serve the whole three year term. There must be a responsibility to do what they put themselves forward to do.

If an electorate MP resigns there is considerable cost involved in by-elections. There must also be quite a bit of disruption to workloads expected of both electorate and list MPs.

David McGee, ex Clerk of the House and Ombudsman, suggests Impose a bond on MPs to stop them quitting

In the early years of parliamentary government members often resigned their seats.

But, with the development of political parties, resignations became less common and had virtually disappeared for a century until the adoption of MMP in 1996.

Since then resignations have come back into fashion, especially among list members who are replaced by the next unsuccessful candidate on the party list (or even lower down the list if the party “persuades” the next candidate not to take up the vacant seat).

So far this term there have been quite a few resignations:

  • Mike Sabin (Northland electorate) – this wasn’t by choice
  • Russel Norman (Green list)
  • Kevin Hague (Green list)
  • Phil Goff (Mt Roskill electorate) – chose another political job
  • David Shearer (Mt Albert electorate) – chose to go back to the UN

A number of other electorate MPs have indicated they will stand down when they can avoid a by-election. This includes David Cunliffe and John Key. If they do this before the end of the term that leaves their electorates without an MP until after the election.

New Zealand has a three-year term for Parliament. This is short by international standards.

It is not unreasonable to expect that persons who are elected to Parliament will serve out the full term of this relatively short period. That is, after all, the basis on which they offered themselves for election in the first place.

I agree.

Yet, increasingly, membership of Parliament for a maximum of three years is seen as being at the convenience of each member perhaps more accurately at that of the member’s party, rather than as an obligation undertaken when elected.

Thus there has been a noticeable tendency for list members who are intending to step down at the next election to resign in the final year of the term (either voluntarily or at the party’s prompting) so as to make way for a candidate who is expected to have an ongoing interest in a parliamentary career.

It’s not so disruptive or expensive when list MPs resign mid-term, but it is still a failure to fulfil their commitment as an elected representative.

In this way, for many members, the already short parliamentary term becomes an even shorter one. For every member a parliamentary career is converted into something that one has the ability to leave costlessly in political terms at any time, rather than being a commitment to public service for the life of a parliament.

In my view this is deleterious to the institution of Parliament and to the sense of obligation that members should feel to it.

That is also my view.

Members in the final year of a Parliament can and should be expected to contribute to it’s work for the full term that they have signed up to regardless of their intentions to stand or not at the next election.

Another issue is MPs who seem to disappear after they announce they will stand down at the next election. For example what have Maurice Williamson and Clayton Cosgrove been doing this term?

Perhaps they have been beavering away tirelessly, Williamson at least has an electorate to look after.

A list MP like Cosgrove must also have a responsibility to serve the party that enabled him to have a seat and a generous income.

Consequently, there should be stronger disincentives both to members and to parties to prevent the early jumping of ship that has become endemic.

This is contentious.

In the case of list members, the remedy is quite simple: any vacancy occasioned by resignation should not be filled.

List members, whatever they may pretend to the contrary, are not elected to represent individual constituencies of a geographical or other nature.

Our electoral system allows the voter to make no such distinctions when casting a party vote.

So there can be no question of a denial of representation in leaving such seats vacant.

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would certainly be a deterrence, but is it fair? Would it be fair if someone had a genuine need to resign (compared to a better job offer)?

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would almost certainly be effective.

Electorate members, on the other hand, do represent constituents and it is unacceptable not to full such vacancies.

The present law allowing vacancies arising within six months of a general election to be left unfilled is inherently undemocratic and should not be extended.

Leaving an electorate without an MP for 6 months (out of 3 years) is an issue in itself.

Consequently, as a condition of being declared elected, electorate members should be required to enter into a bond to serve through the full term of the parliament.

The amount of the bond would not cover the full cost of a by-election (indeed, that would not be its intention) but it should be sufficiently high to provide a financial disincentive to resignation for the member and for the party backing the member.

Allowing for exceptional circumstances:

In the case of both list and electorate members, resignation without these consequences would be permitted on health grounds proved to the satisfaction of the Speaker or the Electoral Commission.

fair enough.

Membership of Parliament ought not to be a mere convenience for political parties, nor should it be a status that can be discarded lightly. It is time that this undesirable development was addressed.

But how can it be addressed? It would require commitments from parties that like the convenience of dropping and replacing MPs. Parties and increasingly MPs are selfish, and are unlikely to change something that suits them – at the expense of voters and taxpayers.

MPs are representatives of the people, and when they put themselves forward for election they should commit themselves to a full term. It should be in their oath.

McCully’s office vandalised

RNZ report that Murray McCully’s office has been graffiti’d:  Foreign Minister’s electorate office vandalised


Petty vandalism like this doesn’t do anything for the wall scribble or their case.

It’s pathetic calling McCully a traitor, and ‘jew hater’ is nothing more than ignorant abuse.

Shaw avoids electorate question

On The Nation this morning James Shaw was asked whether he had any ambition to win the Wellington Central electorate next election.

Shaw avoided answering this, diverting to the usual Green spiel about the party vote being all important – which it is.

But with Labour struggling so much the Greens must at least be considering going for some electorates.

Wellington Central would have to be on that list.

Metiria Turei’s desire to contest Te Tai Tonga is also an interesting change in focus for her.

Will Greens recommend voters give them the party vote but give Labour the electorate vote in these electorates?

Or will they at least quietly hope to pick up a seat or two beyond the list.

Nelson electorate deal denials

Mixed messages over Labour-Green electorate deals or no deals continue, with denials from both Labour and the Greens that there there will be no deal in Nelson.

In the original 1 News report Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election Andrea Vance said:

In Nelson the Greens fell like they can pick up a lot of votes and so they’re in talks with Labour at the moment to stand a Labour candidate aside so that the Greens can have a clear run in that seat in Nelson.

The reason the greens have chosen Nelson is because it’s a classically Green seat. Now they’ll campaign hard in that seat because they’ve been given a chunk of money by an anonymous donor who has specified it must be used in the campaign in Nelson and the West Coast only.

And so Labour found it easy to stand aside because the candidate there would go up against Nick Smith for the electorate vote who’s been there for years and years and years and there’s a strong incumbent.

There is some very specific information there. Someone must have given this to Vance. Metiria Turei and her plans to stand in Te Tai Tonga also featured in that item.

Little responded on 1 News’ Breakfast programme: “This is news to me, we have no agreement on any seat”.

A follow up from 1 News: ‘Bugger that!’ – Labour members leave party over proposed deal with Green Party in Nelson

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson.

One of those who quit said the members had emailed in their resignations – and the reasons – to the party.

“They were eight core people and they’ve walked away. They expected us to help the Greens… we’re not going to work for the Greens, bugger that.”

The ex-member said supporters were unhappy about how they learned about the proposed deal.

“It leaked out at the [annual] conference. One of the candidates was told by Andrew Little… people here are really angry.

But Labour continues to deny any deal in Nelson. Stuff: Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson:

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

“This is about how to work together under MMP to change the Government and get the economy working for all New Zealanders.”

A “no such plan for Nelson” denial followed by general poliwaffle.

Greens are also now denying a deal has been done.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said no decisions had been made about any electorate seats, including Nelson. He also said was wrong to suggest that there was any connection between this donation and its candidate selection process in Nelson.

“That is patently incorrect … no decision has been made about the Nelson electorate seat, or any others, and no donation, regardless of its size, will have any bearing on our decision-making process.”

The original report didn’t say a deal had been done, just that Greens were ‘in talks with Labour’, albeit implying it looked likely to happen.

And of particular note is that Shaw is doing the backtracking, not Metiria Turei.

This is a real muddle and doesn’t help Labour and Greens look like a cohesive government-in-waiting.

National battles in Clutha-Southland

There seems to be some taking of sides in the Clutha-Southland electorate after it was reported yesterday that someone is challenging MP Todd Barclay for the very safe seat that Bill English vacated in 2014.

ODT/NZME: Horse-trading begins ahead of Election 2017

Simon Flood,  a 52-year-old former Merrill Lynch investment fund manager, plans to challenge Clutha-Southland incumbent Todd Barclay.

It is understood Mr Flood was widely expected to get the selection in 2014 but pulled out at the last minute for family reasons.

Mr Barclay’s first term has been blemished by resignations of long-standing staff and reports of disputes.

Barclay was rated 2/10 by the 2016 Trans Tasman MP report.


John Key is staying neutralish: Bill English refuses to back embattled MP Todd Barclay

Prime Minister John Key says he has met Mr Flood before, but didn’t know him at Merrill Lynch, where he also worked.

“Firstly, he came from a different division of Merrill Lynch, it’s worth noting that,” he says.

Mr Key rejects the challenge against Mr Barclay has been orchestrated by the National Party hierarchy.

“We don’t engineer challenges, or stop them. If someone decides to go and challenge a sitting MP, they’re free to go and do that.

“If you’re a sitting MP who’s working hard, that’s developing your electorate, then the cards are stacked in your favour,” says Mr Key.

Bill English too: Bill English refuses to be drawn on Todd Barclay’s future

Finance Minister Bill English, who held the seat for 18 years before going list only, is declining to make any specific comments on Mr Barclay’s situation, or even saying whether or not he endorses him.

“I’m not a delegate, I’m not participating in it. It is a matter for the local party, that’s how the National Party runs these things.”

When specifically asked if Mr Barclay had done a good job in the role, Mr English said “he appears to have done a good job.”

But National MPs were prepared to state a preference. Judith Collins:


That was ‘liked’ by MPs Barbara Kuriger, Kanwaljit Bakshi and Sarah Dowie.


That was ‘liked’ by MP Tim McIndoe

Cameron Slater is clearly taking sides. Is this just a continuation of bad blood feuds or a vested interest?

Board skullduggery in the Clutha Southland Selection

There is skullduggery going on  in Clutha-Southland with a shabby move against Todd Barclay which is being orchestrated quietly by the former MP, currently residing in Karori, and assisted by at least one stroppy board member intent on taking the presidency.

This is a challenge being orchestrated by National Party Board Member Glenda Hughes, who is trying to muscle into the democratic processes of electorates selecting their own candidate, to force out Todd Barclay, the current MP. Hughes wants to appoint her chosen outside candidate, imposing her will on the Clutha-Southland electorate.

This is an absolute disgrace.

The National Party board should not be involved in selections in any partisan way. They should not be involved at all, except to undertake their constitutional duties and ensure local electorates select the person they think best suits their electorate. Board Members with integrity will not be involved the kind of tearing down of MPs that Glenda has been doing.

If Glenda Hughes wants to play political games in National Party selections she should do the honourable thing and immediately resign her board position. If she continues to interfere we will be forced to continue to draw readers attention to Hughes’ hamfisted attempts in other electorates selections, not just Clutha-Southland.

The last time the board tried meddling in a local selection it turned into a PR disaster for them. Do they really want that again?

Slater has a history of trying to meddle in candidate selections, prepared to dish out dirt to try to destroy the chances of some people. He tried this in Northland for the by-election. His motives weren’t clear there, but it would be odd if he tried to orchestrate a Winston win.

Is Michelle Boag spinning against Todd Barclay?

Hot on the heels of the attack on Todd Barclay in the ODT came a predictable attack on him on Radio Live. Radio Live reckon that Barclay is going to be beaten by challenger Simon Flood, “a Merrill Lynch Banker”.

The tip line is saying that Glenda Hughes’ ally Michelle Boag is all over this. Boag is forever meddling in electorates she has no business being in, and Hughes is stupid to get an Aucklander involved in the deep south.

Funny, is he aware at all of his hypocrisy? Slater is an Aucklander getting involved in the deep south. Does he have business there?

The article is from a journalist who simply doesn’t understand the National Party selection process, or who has spent any time on the ground in Clutha-Southland.

How does Slater know how much time Eileen Goodwin has spent “on the ground in Clutha-Southland”? She has been around down here for quite a while, reporting on Barclay’s employment issues earlier this year , and also on Clutha-Southland during the 2014 election campaign – see here.

What Glenda Hughes wants doesn’t matter. It is what the large number of delegates from around Southland want that matters. The media should stop buying into Glenda Hughes’ bullshit.

This could be just ongoing hits on Hughes and Boag, who Slater has bitterly attacked a number of times in the past.

Slater hasn’t always favoured Barclay. Last year he posted ‘Todd Barclay is a gutless little twerp.

English said, “It is a matter for the local party, that’s how the National Party runs these things.”

So why is there so much interest from Hughes, Boag and Slater?

Interestingly Boag is credited with helping recruit John Key as a candidate – along with Slater’s father, John.

Key went on to successfully challenge long serving MP Brian Neeson for selection to stand in Helensville.

Will history repeat itself in Clutha Southland?

James Shaw contesting Wellington Central again

Green co-leader James Shaw will contest the Wellington Central electorate next year, running against Grant Robertson again.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out now Labour and Greens have a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and Greens have already opted out of the Mt Roskill by-election to help Labour there.

Greens may have decided that the focus for them close to parliament in an electorate where they got more party votes (11,545 at 29.50%) than Labour (9,306 at 23.78%) was too important to not stand in.

Generally  Greens stand candidates in electorates to get exposure and to solicit party votes. They will be wary of losing party votes if they opt out of electorates to help Labour candidates.

There may be a lot of wink wink campaigning, sort of like what happens in Epsom and Ohariu.

NZ Herald said yesterday that Shaw was set to be confirmed in Shaw to contest Wellington Central, scotching rumours of a deal with Labour in Ohariu

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is set to be confirmed as his party’s candidate for the Wellington Central seat.

The Greens’ Wellington Central branch will select its candidate at a meeting tonight, and Shaw is the only nominee.

Shaw confirmed his confirmation in advance via Twitter after Robertson responded to this article:

Looking forward to another Wgtn Central contest with Can’t believe media bought into ACT spin re Ohariu

Thanks, . It’s been a pleasure to run alongside you in Wellington Central in 2011 and 2014. Looking forward to 2017!

The 2014 results in Wellington Central:


I don’t know if Robertson has been officially confirmed as Labour’s candidate for 2017 but if not I expect it will be a formality.

Another day in John Key’s neo-liberal nightmare

Paul has been kicking off the day lately at The Standard’s Open Mike with a string of posts that suggests he is not a John key fan. They all begin:

Another day in John Key’s neo-liberal nightmare.
We have become a cruel, greedy, uncaring and selfish nation under his wretched leadership.

So far today:

Selfish, greedy.
Max Key.

David Slack: ‘Greed, and hair gel, is good’


New Zealand property investors.

‘Housing ‘mess’ has spread from Auckland to Tauranga


New Zealand property investors.

‘Market tough for renters


Greedy, selfish, uncaring.
New Zealand’s private landlords

One of the worst years for housing problems, says union.

But there’s hope:

Yet there are people who still care and who are unselfish.
Marie Retimana represents the best of New Zealand.
A government that does not ensure its citizens are not paid enough to feed themselves represents the worst of New Zealand.

Helping the needy through social media

Paul is helping the needy at The Standard – they desperately want to believe that New Zealand is a cruel, greedy, uncaring and selfish neo-liberal nightmare under Key’s wretched leadership.

He has added:

Yet there are people who still care and who are unselfish.
Park Up represents the best of New Zealand.
A government that does not house its citizens adequately represents the worst of New Zealand.

‘Park Up For Homes camp out on Beehive backdoor.

Continually promoting over-wrought negatives is not presenting a more positive alternative.



If Greens help Labour win more electorates…

If Greens help Labour win more electorates and Labour don’t increase their party vote then they will lose list MPs.

Andrew Little should be safe as he will be number one on their list. He only just made the cut as the last list MP to fill their quote after the 2014 election.

Little could be arranged into a safe Labour seat and would not take up a list slot anyway.

So who are the Labour list MPs and current caucus rank?

  • Andrew Little (1)
  • Jacinda Ardern (5)
  • David Parker (11)
  • Sue Moroney (16)
  • Clayton Cosgrove (31)

Cosgrove is not standing again anyway so that allows for one extra electorate MP before dropping Moroney off, then Parker, if they remain in a similar order and Labour’s party vote remains the same.

It would take five new electorate MPs for Little to be at risk at the 2014 party vote level of 25.13%.

Alternately if Little remains list only then if Labour’s party vote dropped towards 21% then he risks losing his seat. At about 22% Ardern is at risk.

This changes if a candidate lower down the list wins an electorate. For each one of those a list MP drops off.

Of course they could rebound (after dropping their party vote each election this century) and it wouldn’t matter.