MP for Rongotai in odd incidents

Paul Eagle ditched his role as Wellington’s deputy mayor to take on the safe seat of Rongotai after Annette King decided to retire from Parliament.

He popped up in the political news yesterday when he questioned RNZ boss Richard Griffin in a selection committee meeting yesterday.

Labour members of the committee got in on the action too. Paul Eagle questioned Griffin as to why he had informed Lee of Hirschfeld’s resignation before a press release was circulated around RNZ staff and the public.

Eagle asked when Griffin first contacted Lee. Seeing Eagle’s questions were going to lead to a suggestion of impropriety, Griffin’s response was terse.

He said that he first contacted Lee “three minutes prior to the time we put out a press release, as a matter of courtesy, which may be foreign to some of those in politics”.

He then checked himself.

“I’m sorry that’s unnecessary,” he said.

Eagle then asked if the phone call to Lee was courtesy or “collusion”.

“That’s a ridiculous question with due respect,” said Griffin. “It’s a matter of obvious courtesy, the suggestion that it is somehow…” Griffin paused, apparently frustrated, “let’s not go any further, it gets out of control”.

– from Newsroom Fiery hearing fails to put RNZ bungle to bed

Then today he featured in an exchange on Reddit – Paul Eagle MP is a peice of shit.

He is the most entitled, rude and disrespectful man I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. It says a lot about a person’s character how they treat those with less power than them and Mr Eagle thinks it’s acceptable to swear at and berate those he does not deem to be of his level. I am shocked someone in the public eye would treat someone as abhorrently as he treats someone who’s just trying to help him. I hope those in electorate meet him and get the opportunity to see what kind of man he is. TL;DR if you work in the service industry watch out for Paul Eagle.

Rant concluded.

Another:

Before he was an MP my old boss, an Island Bay resident, made a submission in some Island Bay cycleway project that was negative about the council’s handling of it. Eagle personally rang him up one evening to have a big angry rant at him about it. Classy dude.

And another:

I’ve witnessed him tearing into an elderly lady at a housing meeting, after she’d asked a very reasonable question. He was incredibly rude and patronising to her.

This was picked by Henry Cooke at Stuff and Labour MP Paul Eagle apologises for profane ‘misunderstanding’

Labour MP Paul Eagle has apologised for an incident that saw a Wellingtonian call him an “entitled douchebag.”

Eagle says the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and that he was swearing at people blocking his way into his office – not someone on the phone.

When reached by Stuff, Eagle said the event was a misunderstanding, but offered his apologies.

Eagle said he was talking to a panel-beater on Friday afternoon about getting his car fixed and having a polite but robust discussion about whether or not a separate piece of damage could be fixed at the same time.

Whilst on the phone he was trying to get into his electorate office in Newtown, Wellington, and found his way blocked by some “guys give me lip outside.”

“We’ve got a diverse community in Newtown and sometimes this happens. People are not shy to give you their honest feedback about things,” Eagle said.

“I was swearing at them, they were swearing at me.”

Once Eagle was in the office he said he realised he had been hung up on and was confused. Later his insurance company rung to suggest he try a different panel beater.

“It makes total sense, because now I understand why when I went back to the call it was dead. Within minutes the insurance company rang me,” Eagle said.

“I’d like to formally apologise for any misunderstanding. And I certainly don’t want her feeling any ill will.”

Eagle said he was keen to go back to the panel beater and apologise in person.

A weird explanation – surely that’s too weird to have been made up.

 

Eagle in Rongotai

Paul Eagle, currently deputy mayor of Wellington, is on track to get the Labour nomination to stand in the Rongotai electorate which virtually assures him of a safe seat.

Eagle may well be a good candidate for Labour but if he replaces Annette King that increases the difficulty Labour may have with it’s list if the party continues it’s efforts to achieve a gender balance in Parliament.

With Andrew Little, other prominent Labour MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard, plus apparent promises of a high placing for Willie Jackson, unless Labour increases it’s party vote significantly the rest of the top of this may need to be stacked with female candidates.

If Jacinda Ardern wins the Mt Albert by-election as expected that will even the balance a bit, she would replace David Shearer, but her list replacement will be another incumbent MP who would hope to be given a chance of returning after September’s election.

Andrew Little won’t contest any electorate

Labour leader Andrew Little has announced a decision not to stand in any electorates this election. He will stand on the list only. If he remains as leader he should be number 1 on the list so barring a Labour electoral catastrophe he should make it back into Parliament.

Stuff: Little flags away Rongotai, New Plymouth to go list-only for 2017 election

Labour leader Andrew Little is to run as a list-only candidate in this year’s election, opening the way for councillor Paul Eagle to win the party’s nomination for the Rongotai seat.

Little has previously been defeated in the New Plymouth seat twice by National backbencher Jonathan Young but it was long rumoured he may seek to stand in Deputy Leader Annette King’s Rongotai seat, where he lives, if she stood down.

King has decided not to stand in Rongotai this year and is also going list only (unless she retires altogether).

He formally told his fellow MPs of his decision on Monday at a caucus retreat in the Wairarapa.

“I’ve told them I will be a list-only candidate. I’m not seeking nomination or selection for any seat,” Little said.

“Leading a general election campaign I need the flexibility I have had for the last two years of being able to be, in effect, anywhere anytime.”

At the leadership level you were “MP for the whole of New Zealand” and that was the way he saw the job.

In general I agree that a major party leader – and especially the prime Minister – are better suited to be list only and not committed to a single electorate.

However Little has a credibility problem, having never been successfully elected by voters.

Little said Eagle, who has confirmed he is considering contesting Rongotai, was the leading contender, though Little said he did not know who else might be interested. .

He had won council elections, organised well, and was a very strong identity with good connections in the area.

“He has got everything you would need for a good, effective MP,” Little said.

Ironic comments given their contrast with Little’s lack of electoral success.

Little said he had been waiting for King’s announcement to be tied down before making his call.

Rongotai members had asked him to consider standing, but after giving it a couple of days’ thought he decided to stay with his view he should remain a list MP.

That was last year. It seems off he has waited until now to announce it, especially given that Eagle announced his interest in standing in Rongotai the day after King announced she was stepping down.

Competition for Rongotai

On Saturday Annette King announced that she wouldn’t stand again in the Rongotai electorate but would go list only. This opens up what should be a safe Labour seat for someone.

Andrew Little has been talked of as a contender for quite a while. He has lost in New Plymouth in the last two elections and now lives in Rongotai.

A year ago (November 2015) from Stuff: Andrew Little keeping tabs on Annette King’s Rongotai seat:

Labour leader Andrew Little won’t run in Mt Roskill if MP Phil Goff is successful in his bid for Auckland Mayor, but Rongotai is in his sights.

Leading the Labour Party and not being “tied to a seat” is a good position to be in, and Little said he would only stand in a seat in 2017 if a “suitable” one came up.

“We could be in a position where Rongotai becomes available so I can’t rule out not standing in a seat,” he said.

Labour deputy leader Annette King holds the Rongotai seat but Little said “depending on what she decided to do” would determine whether he stood there.

“I haven’t ruled out New Plymouth and I’ve got an office up there and have a presence up there but I’ve run their twice and missed out twice so there are other options I need to consider.”

So now, as per Saturday’s Herald headline, Annette King stands aside for the younger generation in electorate:

Longstanding Labour MP Annette King will stand as a list-only candidate in 2017 – a step that opens up her Rongotai seat for Labour leader Andrew Little should he decide to stand there.

Little, a list MP, has lived in the Rongotai electorate for years and said he would consider standing in the seat.

“Up until now it was an attractive option as leader of the party to remain list because you get drawn all over the country. Being tied to an electorate, particularly if I’m campaigning to win it for the first time, creates an extra workload.”

I think there’s a good case to make for a major party leader to be list only, as their focus must be on national issues and all electorates, and they shouldn’t have time to lead a party, do what they need to in parliament as well as taking care of an electorate.

“But given I live in the electorate, I know many of the people, it is at least something I should give consideration to.”

King, 69, denied her decision was part of any arrangement with Little, saying she simply believed it was time for another generation to take on the electorate.

She did not know if Little wanted to stand there and had made her own decision to step aside.

I think it would be extraordinary if King and Little haven’t at least discussed the possibility of a Rongotai succession plan.

But it’s getting quite late in the term for Little to turn his attention to an electorate contest as he prepares for next year’s election (of course he could have been preparing for this for some time quietly).

And now someone else has expressed an interest in standing in Rongotai, claiming encouragement from some within the Labour Party.

Stuff: Paul Eagle looks at running in Rongotai as Annette King heads for list

Less than three months after becoming Wellington’s deputy mayor, Paul Eagle is eyeing up a seat in Parliament.

This would suggest it may be an unplanned opportunity for Eagle.

Eagle said he was considering calls from Labour Party members to contest Rongotai, the Wellington electorate seat long held by the party’s deputy leader, Annette King.

Party members and Eagle will know that Little has expressed an interest in Rongotai. Either they know Little isn’t going to contest the electorate, or they are challenging their party leader.

“I’m honoured to be asked whether I will put my name forward and I’m talking about it further with my family, the party leadership and members,” Eagle said on Sunday.

What is going on here?

He’s unlikely to be discussing it much with Little who is currently in the middle of doing the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Is this a local electorate versus party head office conflict? Or is it part of a plan to give Little a credible reason not to stand in Rongotai?

Eagle said he had not decided whether he would contest the seat if Little also  put his name forward. “I’m sure we would have a conversation about it,” he said.

So he is discussing things with party leadership, but not with Little? It sounds muddly,stuff, or we are not being told the full story.

A source within Labour  said that the replacement of John Key, the MP for Helensville, with list MP Bill English as prime minister was a game-changer for Labour.

Why is it a game changer for Labour? Do they now think they can compete with National? That would suggest they hadn’t rated their chances in the next election while Key was Prime Minister.

It may also be underestimating Bill English as Prime Minister.

There was now less pressure on Little to contest an electorate as National’s leader was also without one, the source said.

I don’t know why that would make any difference, unless they thought Little would be attacked for being a list only leader. He’s at least as likely to be attacked for never having successfully contested electorate, in contrast to English who won and held a safe seat for eight elections.

We may not find out who is going to stand in Rongotai until next year. Labour nominations close in early February, so their candidate won’t be known for some time, and election year will already be starting to crank up then.

What seems odd about this is why Little and Eagle are pondering the possibilities publicly, unless it was a deliberate switch of attention from Little to Eagle over the weekend.

 

King opens Rongotai option for Little

Annette King has announced that she won’t stand for her Rongotai electorate next election, but will still stand on the list.

This leaves the electorate open for Andrew Little, who lives in Rongotai. This has been predicted for some time.

King said it isn’t an arrangement to give Little a safe seat, but she thought it was time to step aside for another generation.  King is 69, Little is 51. That would sort of make it a new generation.

“I’m in the 60s generation, we need somebody in the 40s or round that age. You need somebody that can take on the seat and do it for 20-odd years.”

A curious comment given the Little speculation.

Also curious is the timing after Parliament has risen for the year, when there is likely to be little coverage or notice of her decision.

And why has (as it appears) King given this story to the Auckland based Herald and not her local Dominion Post – I can’t see a story about it on Stuff at least, although it may be in the Dom print version.

The Herald reports: Annette King stands aside for the younger generation in electorate

King told the Herald that after 24 years she had decided “with some sadness” not to stand in the electorate again in 2017.

King, 69, denied her decision was part of any arrangement with Little, saying she simply believed it was time for another generation to take on the electorate.

She did not know if Little wanted to stand there and had made her own decision to step aside.

Yeah, right. It would have been her decision, but it’s hard to believe there had been no thought or discussion about who might take over her electorate.

Little, a list MP, has lived in the Rongotai electorate for years and said he would consider standing in the seat.

“Up until now it was an attractive option as leader of the party to remain list because you get drawn all over the country.”

It does make sense for a party leader and especially the Prime Minister to be list only due to their country-wide commitments. Bill English is the first list Prime Minister – he left his electorate prior to the 2014 election.

“Being tied to an electorate, particularly if I’m campaigning to win it for the first time, creates an extra workload.”

That could be an issue for Little.  He has stood and failed twice in New Plymouth. Even though Rongotai has been a safe seat for King if Little stood there there there would be pressure on him to do well, as well as fly the Labour flag nationally.

King first got into Parliament in 1984 in Horowhenua but lost the seat in 1990. She then won Mirimar in 1993 and that became Rongotai with the MMP rearrangements in 1996, which she has held since.

The Rongotai result from 2014:

Party Candidate Votes % ±% Party Votes % ±%
Labour Green tick Annette King 18,840 49.43 −1.09 11,754 31.87 −2.31
National Chris Finlayson 9,223 24.20 −1.18 12,606 34.18 +1.19
Green Russel Norman 7,856 20.61 +0.43 10,176 27.59 +3.40
NZ First Brent Pierson 793 2.08 +0.72 2,097 5.71 +1.26
Conservative Bruce Welsh 576 1.51 +0.30 623 1.70 +0.59
Mana Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati 225 0.59 +0.59
United Future Sultan Eusoff 95 0.24 +0.24 143 0.38 −0.21
Independent Don Richards 89 0.23 −0.19
Climate Aaron Carter 66 0.17 +0.17
Patriotic Revolutionary Front John Overton 48 0.12 +0.12

King had an easy win but quite a bit of her majority may be on her personal standing in the electorate. National got more party votes than Labour.

Russel Norman got a big chunk of votes too, with him out of the equation it would probably help the new Labour candidate.