When lame duck Mayor Len Brown bolted for the holidays (or was that painting the house so it could be sold?) taking what little remained of his dignity he also left behind a city that has been leaderless ever since. He claimed in the furore over his rooting, his favours, his dalliances and his spending that Aucklanders just wanted him to get on with running the city…a job he has singularly failed to do ever since he uttered those words.
Cameron Brewer notes this as well in a paywalled column at the NBR.
With all political parties and leaders set to keep their distance from Auckland Mayor Len Brown this election year, Auckland will sadly lose some real bargaining power and influence via party policies and manifestos at a critical time for the region and the economic growth cycle.
Six months ago a big part of the 2014 election looked set to be about which party could keep the Auckland Mayor the happiest. Now, political parties will be very circumspect about promoting any close association with Mr Brown or shared policy platforms for fear of it having a negative impact on their party vote nationwide. Simply put, itâ€™s no longer a good look to be seen pandering to Len Brown.
Auckland should be calling many of the shots this election year, but unfortunately gaining political accommodations for Auckland Council will be harder.
It is clear that the Labour Party has abandoned its highest-profile member and in election year looks set to keep its distance.
Only in June Labourâ€™s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford was talking up Len Brown in the House and in press releases as â€śthe popular Labour Mayor.â€ť However Labour seems to have been the ultimate fair weather friend with leader David Cunliffe cutting him completely loose since.Â
Len Brown is as popular as prostate cancer. He has been the butt of jokes all holiday period at BBQs across the city and in the summer playgrounds of Aucklanders. People now rush to get the Len Brown jokes over with so they can then get on and enjoy their evening. The man is literally a walking and talking joke…that is when he fronts for anything these days.
Even Nigel No-Mates has more friends than Len Brown.
One thing the Mayor had going for him was that come the hard-fought 2014 General Election he would at least have the opposition parties on his side and hence put pressure on the Government. Weâ€™ll he hasnâ€™t even got the Opposition now, so where does that leave Auckland?
The Mayorâ€™s Office should be heavily influencing and advocating for different Auckland policy promotion and wins from the varied political parties this election. However, the Mayoral Office is in sheer survival mode with the Mayorâ€™s ability to now credibly influence any new and significant policy gains rendered almost useless.
Thank goodness the National-led Government last year announced its $10 billion acceleration package for regional transport projects.
Not anymore. I heard of a function held in the Ngati Whatua Room where no one would sit on the chairs and everyone stood around tittering nervously. No one wants to shake his hand, stand bedside him for a photograph or be seen in public with the fool. His influence now is nil.
But what about the Mayorâ€™s faltering promise of working with any government to deliver significant alternative transport funding streams such as tolling existing motorways or introducing a regional fuel tax? He no longer has the authority to convince Aucklandâ€™s motoring public to pay extra, let alone convince any politician in Wellington to legislate the extra costs.
In his first term the Mayorâ€™s advocacy delivered some good results. HoweverÂ the ability for Auckland Council to secure many big wins in 2014 is going to be near impossible, given how politically toxic Len Brown has become and how risk adverse political parties are in election year.
Len Brown needs to realise that his position as Mayor and his dignity and influence departed as quickly as his stamina in the cot.