In around 7 months, NZ will be in the thick of local body elections, the most important for the Auckland Council.
At this stage, there isn’t a declared centre-right candidate to take on Len Brown, though the rumour mill is running overtime on a couple of names.
However, Len for know is very much in the box seat, which is why Auckland needs a strong centre-right council to hold him to account.
The centre-right in Auckland Region is normally represented by the Citizens and Ratepayers ticket, who have historically done well on the former Auckland Regional Council and the old Auckland City Council.
Since the 2010 elections, when C&R did poorly in the first ever supercity elections, there has been a rebrand by C&R’s executive board and National Party hacks Alastair Bell and Mark Thomas, to try and refresh their image. But while the colours and names have changed, their political fortunes have not. ¬†The new C&R, now known as Communities and Residents, has barely registered in the media over the last year. The C&R caucus is badly divided, and their board ineffective. Wags have said they should have renamed themselves Catastrophe & Ruin instead.
National has all but washed their hands of C&R in the elections this year, its caucus refusing to make available any organisation to the adrift group, instead encouraging individuals to participate if they feel like it. Candidate selections that were supposed to take place in November have been deferred and deferred as people go cold on standing for an organisation heading for defeat. Big fundraising plans have turned to dust and instead, a big levy is likely to be imposed on the hapless cannon fodder that stand.¬†
C&R will likely re-nominate and successfully re-elect Chris Fletcher in her Albert-Eden ward, Dick Quax in Howick, and George Wood for the North Shore. ¬†They will win each of their wards, but apart from Dick in Howick, will have likely left-wing fellow ward councillors. That’s where the good news ends.
It is likely that C&R will continue to propose the useless and tired Noelene Raffills to stand in her late husband’s ward, though he passed away over a decade ago and she has since remarried and lives elsewhere. Compounding this awful choice of candidate is the fact that Raffills barely votes with C&R these days and and supports Len Brown on most issues.
C&R has lost Des Morrison, their councillor in Franklin, who can be summed up as “nice guy but invisible”. ¬†Morrison walked from C&R a few months ago. He won’t stand again, but there’s no guarantees C&R has a better chance at winning back the Franklin ward against popular lefty Dianne Glenn. In the glamour contest in Waitemata, C&R will bring out the dusty carpet bag, and¬†stand Mark Thomas, one of their main campaign brains and Orakei Local Board candidate as their best chance against Mike Lee. As Thomas takes his message of Remuera wisdom to Grey Lynn, he can console himself that the daily drive across town in the Porsche SUV will be comfortable, even if the audience reception is not. Meanwhile he is continuing to busy himself with a hatchet job on Desley Simpson in the local board which leaves me confused as to which dog I should back in that fight…perhaps we are best to leave them to themselves to chew each other to pieces. It is always fun watching the fur, though in this case mostly plastic, fly.
They have little idea on who to stand in the wards north of the Harbour Bridge, with George Wood the only known C&R candidate. Penny Webster, once an ACT MP but now firmly in Len’s camp is unlikely to be defeated by Christine Rose, who would also be in Len’s camp. Wayne Walker, a very strange man, will probably win re-election in the Albany-Hibiscus area. A small mercy for the centre-right is the possible retirement of Michael Goudie, a very young independent who likes being cool but stands for little else.
Out west, Mike Brickell, the invisible C&R Party President, is likely to fancy his chances against Sandra Coney (he is mistaken), and Penny Hulse will probably hose in by a bigger majority than in 2010. If John Tamihere sought a seat, he might pick this us, which would be a good result for the centre-right as Tamihere would be uncontrollable by the left.
In their Orakei heartland, independent and strong centre-right identity Cameron Brewer controls the Orakei seat, and can expect a thumping great majority again, much to C&R’s great jealousy. C&R will also have to contend with an opposition heritage-sports club local board ticket that is being set up in their heartland, which will come as a rude shock to those expecting an easy run.
Out in South East Auckland former C&R candidates have ceased paying levies and quietly slipped away, most will now stand as independents. Michael Williams, having been convicted of drunk driving has now fallen foul of the disrepute rules of C&R, but he had already done that with his bombastic and high handed failed coup against his own deputy. He has refused to meet anyone from C&R either before or since the public debacle. At least the voting electorate will get to see more of his poor wife as she drives him from meeting to meeting while he is a disqualified driver.
In Manurewa-Papakura, Calum Penrose and Sir John Walker will expect to hose in with greater numbers. Penrose is probably the best centre-right intellect on the council, and Walker, neither left-nor-right and a charming guy to boot, are two great reps that C&R will probably embrace as best they can.
If C&R’s 2010 result was 5 councillors, with one walking since then and the other voting with Len must of the time, then they go into the election with only three incumbents and one confused old woman. They will be very lucky to gain much more than that. With the other centre-independents not likely to number more than 4 or 5, it seems Len will have both the throne and the cheap seats for three more years.