Is Simeon Brown a Bannonite or just a deceitful right winger?

Who is Simeon Brown? Most people are unlikely to know much if anything about him. He is young for an MP (27) and seems to lean right/conservative.

He won the candidacy for National to contest the Pakuranga electorate last election, which allowed him to romp in to a safe seat vacated by Maurice Williamson. Brown actually increased the MP majority by 2,000 votes, and helped National increase their party vote by about 1,300 votes, giving them 61.69% in the electorate. It must be one of if not the safest electorate.

Like most back bench MPs in a large party Brown has not had much attention. However he was lucky to have a Members’ Bill drawn from the ballot giving him some publicity – it would ensure anyone who supplies illegal synthetic drugs receives a penalty consistent with the penalty prescribed for supplying a Class C Drug.

This is the opposite of most current moves to combat drug problems in dealing with them more as health and addiction issues and providing far better treatment and rehabilitation rather than lock ’em up for longer.

Yesterday after the passing of the Medicinal Cannabis bill in Parliament:

Other reactions:

Yoza: This is how backwards some segments of our society truly are. While sanity is prevailing in other parts of the world, we still have drug war fanatics here pushing a prohibitionist model that has been an utter social disaster for decades.

Mark sanders: So the party would reverse this if given the chance? Cool, add another reason to never vote for you…

Matthew Whitehead: The hilarious hypocrisy of National, a party full of MPs who have big issues with alcohol, moralizing on drugs is astounding. It’s also grossly inaccurate to pretend this is the forthcoming decrimalization decision. This allows prescription by GP, and we don’t see people abusing prescription drugs outside schools or addiction centres. (inside might be another matter ofc). Coincidentally, requiring prescription by GP is a control and a regulation, Simeon.

“Misleading at best and you know it.

“So out of touch fella”

“Perhaps you could try smocking it?’

This follows a recent exchange on Twitter over immigration, with speculation that he may be some sort of a Bannonite (a follower of Breitbart/Steve Bannon).

Peter Dunne: I think you know the answer to your question already Peter!

Peter Aranyi: No, I haven’t worked Simeon out yet. I recognised the ‘socially conservative’ aspect, & we (he & I) had a private conversation about his stance on abortion law reform (he’s agin it) but this migration thing, given the demographics of Pakuranga (even more so Botany) seems oddball.

>> Surely he’s not a Trumpette? Bannonitte?

Peter Dunne: Without the stridency or ideological precision, NZFirst here touches many of the same themes. But it is not as intellectually organised as the Bannonites.

An individual attempt at right wing populism? Whatever, Brown was not very popular on Twitter yesterday:

 

Maurice Williamson past his use-by date

Maurice Williamson has again embarrassed himself and National. NZ Herald reports:

Backlash builds as MP offers apologies

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, who was once lauded for his “big gay rainbow” speech in support of same-sex marriage, has now come under fire from gay and women’s advocates for a speech considered homophobic and sexist.

Guests of the Esri Users Conference gala dinner at SkyCity last Tuesday have revealed that Mr Williamson’s comments during his MC spot had people “removing themselves from the room”. Guests complained that Mr Williamson made “sexist” jokes and comments about scantily clad women, and played an audio clip that disparaged women and gay men.

Mr Williamson yesterday apologised for the offence he had caused.

“I was asked to be as entertaining and as funny as I possibly could. It was never my intention to upset any delegates. I overstepped the line on the night and did cause offence. For that I unreservedly apologise.”

At least he has offered a proper sort of apology.

His time as an MP must be just about up. He is past being any use to Natiomal and has become a liability.

It has been suggested for some time that Williamson may try for the Auckland mayoralty. NZ Herald also reports Maurice Williamson had been set to announce Auckland mayoralty plans.

Maurice Williamson, whose controversial speech to an IT conference has sparked complaints about “sexist jokes, was set to announce his plans for the Auckland mayoralty shortly, says a National Party source.

The source did not know if the Pakuranga MP intended to stand.

“He has been entertaining delegations from different people over the past few months and said the first week of September was when he would announce he was in or out,” the source said.

Next Monday – September 7 – Mr Williamson is due to speak on local transport issues at a public meeting in Pakuranga.

Howick councillor Dick Quax said he could use the event to announce he is going to run for mayor.

Mr Quax said Mr Williamson did not usually speak on local matters.

“I have spoken to Maurice in conversational tone about whether he may be interested in the Auckland mayoralty and I don’t think it is any secret he has said he was interested.

“He has made that pretty clear in the past,” Mr Quax said.

In 2013, Mr Williamson toyed with standing but abandoned any bid for the mayoralty.

After this latest stuff-up it might be prudent of Williamson to abandon any bid for the mayoralty for 2016.

And it would be sensible for him to stand aside in Pakuranga and make way for a modern MP. Williamson is past his political use-by date.

Williamson flayed, National frayed

Paul Henry interviewed Act leader David Seymour this morning about the alleged attempt by Maurice Williamson to jump from National to ACT.

As a result of clarifications Henry stated that Williamson has lied to John Key about having no contact, and Seymour didn’t dispute that assumption.

Williamson has been flayed by ACT (and Henry), and National looks more frayed around the edges.

This started with a ‘tidbit’ in Free Press 25/05/2015 ACT PARTY / NEWSLETTER:

Where’s Maurice Williamson Going?
Betting site iPredict has opened up stocks for a by-election in Pakuranga, and for incumbent Williamson to be the candidate by 2017.  The interesting thing is the opening odds, respectively 30 and 25 percent likely.  iPredict’s operators, who have deep political connections, set these odds.  Something’s up.

Seriously!?
ACT’s Board has unanimously rejected an approach by the hapless Don Brash (no joking, this is too good for us to have made up) for Williamson to join ACT’s caucus.  “My own party don’t want me no more” is not an attractive pitch. For similar reasons, what poor country would accept him as ambassador?

Henry’s interview Is National MP Maurice Williamson a waka-jumper?

The transcript:

Henry: Ok the reason we all know about this is that you went public in a newsletter and said that this approach through Don Brash had come to the party and the party said no.

Seymour: Well that’s right we put a tidbit at the end of our newsletter, um and a lot of people seem to have found it very interesting.

Henry: Well because it makes a fool of Maurice Williamson. Was that your intention?

Seymour: Ah no not at all, but what I do know is that you can’t lead a party, try to rebuild a party, and offer a party that voters can confidently vote for, ah when you have this kind of back door swirling stuff going on, so ah we put it out in the open and made it clear this is not how we do politics, ah if we want to expand the ACT caucus and we certainly do, ah we’ll put it to the voters at a general election.

Henry: What you’re doing is something quite unusual in politics, you’re taking the moral high ground, ah and and given the story to date you deserve the moral high ground. However the opposite is true of Maurice Williamson, or as for some reason I’m referring to him as ‘Maurice’ [sort of a French pronunciation]. Seems more appropriate for some reason.

Um for him it’s not the high ground. You must have known by going public with this, that people were going to point the finger at Maurice and say at the very least you are disloyal, this is about you party hopping and causing problems for the National Party.

Seymour: Well bear in mind we’ve just reported the facts of the case, which is that ah Don approached our president, ah and we said no, ah we’ve left it up to them to explain ah where they’re coming from.

They haven’t been prepared to do that, ah which was as we suspected, um but nonetheless I’d rather ah do things out in the open, ah than have innuendo and swirling rumours around the party.

Henry: All right, lets just establish one thing. You understand, and the president of ACT understand that Don Brash was acting for Maurice Williamson, with the clear knowledge the request actually of Maurice Williamson. Is that correct?

Seymour: Well, I’ve known Don for a long time and one thing I know about Don is he’s certainly a very sincere guy, ah so if I was to bet on the character of Don Brash, ah which is very very good, I can’t imagine ah that he woke up and fabricated it, but who knows? Ah Maurice seems to be saying the opposite.

Henry: I agree entirely with what you’re saying there, but did Don Brash make it clear to your um president that he was acting for Maurice Williamson?

Seymour: Yeah that that that’s the assumption for sure.

Henry: But that’s the assumption. Did he make it clear?

Seymour: As far as I’m aware he did, yes.

Henry: All right, in which Maurice Williamson is now lying to John Key.

Seymour: Well certainly, I mean the other thing is that you know ah John did follow up ah and ah call Maurice and had several texts, ah and of course he’s saying there’s been no contact. Um so but that’s look that’s that’s for them to work out, we’re just telling um…

Henry: Ok, hang on, just make sure I’ve got that right because this is an actual fact you’re dealing in now, you’re saying the the ACT president John Thompson has specifically spoken to Maurice Williamson about this.

Seymour: Well he did, he undertook, he said to Don “look Don, sounds a bit crazy to me but you know we’ll  give him a call um and John tried to do that, ah then several texts. Ah Maurice never properly returned his call, ah but certainly ah there was some contact.

Henry: Well did they talk to each other or not? Was there actual contact or not?

Seymour: Well what happened is that John called, ah Maurice Maurice said “I can’t talk now, I’ll get back”,  um they had a couple of texts back and forth ah and…

Henry: So there was contact.

Seymour: There was contact, that’s right.

Henry: Maurice Williamson is in fact lying to John Key.

Seymour: Well ah that’s up to up to Maurice to ah decide, um but we’re just reporting what’s happened with ACT and  saying  this is how we play, ah we’re not really interested in party hopping or waka jumping, that’s for others to say what their position is.

It looks like Seymour and ACT have really dumped Williamson into an inextricable position.

This must rule out any chance of Williamson getting back into the National  Cabinet – but for Williamson to approach ACT one could assume a return had already been ruled out by John Key, hence seeking some other party opportunity.

I can’t imagine Williamson being happy about this being out in the open. Nor Key.

If it’s true I don’t see how Williamson can continue being a National MP. Resigning from his Pakuranga electorate would seem to be the honourable thing to do. That would mean an interesting by-election.

If Williamson chooses not to budge then it could mean a very awkward two years for National as he may be less loyal and more difficult to deal with than National’s coalition partners.

This looks like more fraying around the edges of National’s third term.

And it indicates a bit of political ruthlessness from Seymour and ACT.

Should Williamson resign from Parliament?

Maurice Williamson has resigned as a Minister, as he should have done. He looks safe from pressure to take a further step and resign from Parliament – for now. It will depend on whether anything more damaging emerges.

No matter what he said to police and no matter what his intent in making the call, as John Key said, he crossed a line that no MP should cross for any reason.

Maurice Williamson ‘crossed the line’ – PM

“I think Mr Williamson, by making that phone call, crossed the line.

“There’s no grey in this, in the end there’s a line. The line says that ministers do not involve themselves in police prosecutions, because constabulary independence runs at the heart of the New Zealand judicial system,” Mr Key said.

“Ministers cannot, in my opinion, make phone calls, when there’s an ongoing prosecution, whatever the motivations.

“The minute he made the phone call, in my view, he crossed the line.”

Williamson has accepted this. In a statement he said…

It is clear to me now that that was an error of judgement and regardless of what I actually said – it could be interpreted I was trying to influence the issue.

I have given the Prime Minister an absolute assurance I was not trying to influence police processes and I was only doing the normal job of an MP. However, it is clear that a perception of my trying to influence the outcome has been created and for this reason I have tendered my resignation as a minister today.

It should have been clear to Williamson before he made the call. In interviews he has tried to play down the call. NZH reported:

“In 26 years as an MP when I have hung up the phone from a call to ACC or the police or the health board advocating on behalf of somebody I’ve always thought that was my job and I wasn’t crossing a line.

“However it has become clear that the police believe that it does cross a line, the Prime Minister thinks that it was inappropriate for me to have made the call.”

Audrey Young wrote in Why Maurice Williamson should be sacked (before the resignation):

There is not and never has been any discretion of the Government involving police work.

The clear separation between the Government of the day and police decisions over charges and prosecutions is recognized as an essential element of an ethical state.

It is what contributes to New Zealand’s top equal ranking in the world with Denmark by Transparency International in its latest ratings.

Ministers, MPs, celebrities, heavies, whoever, have no place using their position to try to influence an outcome of a case, unless it is done transparently.

And a Herald editorial Williamson – the other questions:

The Cabinet Manual is clear about ministers interfering in police investigations. It says: “Following a long-established principle, ministers do not involve themselves in deciding whether a person should be prosecuted or on what charge.” That principle has been strongly reinforced in the courts, notably in a British Court of Appeal judgment that concluded the police were “answerable to the law and to the law alone”.

They must be able to focus on their operational responsibilities without political interference or pressure.

Mr Williamson, however, saw fit to go to them over an incident about which he could have known nothing of pertinence.

That’s the Cabinet Manual – Williamson was a Minister outside Cabinet but has been in Cabinet in the past and should have known this, and the same standards should apply to ministers outside cabinet.

I haven’t seen media calls for a resignation from Parliament. There have been calls for this from the blogosphere but that’s common and happen frequently, no matter how appropriate.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has supported the resignation as minister

“Maurice Williamson’s actions were totally unacceptable and he has done the right thing by resigning.”

…but in his statement didn’t call for further action and I haven’t seen him call for a resignation from parliament.

That might be the extent of repercussions for now but the spotlight has gone on Williamson and media are exploring any aspect of this that might put a more serious light on it. It could take a few days to see if anything more serious emerges.

In the meantime this is very embarrassing for National. The resignation appears to have been dealt with swiftly and efficiently (unless it can be proven Key knew about it much sooner than has been stated), but this adds to a growing number of publicised occurrences of National ministers acting inappropriately.

It also adds to the perception that National does favours it’s rich mates, especially ones who have given the party donations. It’s building in to a shabby look. Vernon Small from Fallout will colour public perceptions:

National’s critics are already drawing parallels with Judith Collins’ links to exporter Oravida – also headed by rich donors – and “that” dinner in China.

It all feeds in to the Opposition parties’ narrative that the Government helps its “rich mates”.

Yesterday Williamson said he intended to stand for re-election in Pakuranga in September1. Depending on what else comes out and how the story runs he may reconsider that.

And National may lean on him to reconsider. They might decide that damage control needs a sacrificial lamb MP.