Cold hard reality sinks in for Colin Craig

via NZ Herald

via NZ Herald

Colin Craig has a bad habit of spending millions coming third

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he does not intend to ask National to gift him an electorate and is instead aiming to get into Parliament by getting more than 5 per cent of the party vote, saying he did not want to “repeat the adventures” of parties such as Act.

There has been speculation about whether National will do an Epsom-style deal with Mr Craig to increase his chances of getting Conservative MPs into Parliament, but Mr Craig said no such talks have been held. However, he said if National approached the Conservative Party to offer a seat, he would have to take it to the board to consider and it was likely they would accept. Read more »

Skullduggery in the Hunua Selection?

Long time readers will know this blog does not support any candidate for selection in National seats, believing in fair play and ethics in selections at all times.

In 2011 WOBH outed the skullduggery in Rodney where Brent Robinson and Cehill Pienaar tried to jack up a selection by not following the rules or the unwritten selection etiquette of the party.

In 2011 the National Party was forced to abandon their selection in Rodney and start again because the electorate chair was trying to jack up the selection. The electorate chair was forced to resign the day after the selection, and deservedly so as there is no place for dodgy behaviour from impartial office-holders in the National Party.

In 2014 it appears that certain electorate chairs haven’t learned that they need to remain impartial.¬† Read more »

Will John Key sell out Mark Mitchell in Rodney?

Stephen Mills opinion piece on stuff talking about the combinations of parties and options that will keep John Key in power after 2014.

John Key played the integrity card by ruling out New Zealand First as a coalition partner in 2008, but now he faces the unpleasant choices of courting New Zealand First and/or undertaking high-risk and possibly futile electorate plays in Epsom or Rodney – or a combination of all three.

John Key is making the same kind of noises Helen Clark did in her second term about wanting to stay at all costs. Clark stole $800,000 of tax payers money to spend in the last crucial week of the election campaign, and did a dodgy deal with Winston.¬† Read more »

Mark Mitchell isn’t afraid of a bit of bull

Mark Mitchell, the MP for Rodney isn’t anything like Lockwood Smith when it comes to sports.

Where Lockwood like to wear budgie smugglers and swim at the beach, Mark is into chaps and bulls and the arena of the Rodeo…

Read more »

More on Dodgy Polls, Ctd

Yesterday I blogged about Colin Craig’s dodgy poll where he talks about 89% of people in Helensville wanting consultation. (Quite apart from the fact that the Conservative Party can’t spell Helensville.)

I contacted Research First to ask about the exact questioning and other pertinent details of Colin Craig’s commissioned poll.

I did this because of the history of their dodgy polls. Commendably their CEO Roger Larkins returned my call and pointed to the full poll results at the Conservative Party website. It appears they have learned a bit from the last foray into manipulating public opinion through dodgy polls and most questions are vastly improved.

However the report tells us something that Colin Craig failed to tell us. Lying by omission, if you will.

You see the polling was not done in just Helensville, rather it was done across two electorates, Helensville and Rodney. Further it was a survey of just 355 respondents…with a margin of error of 5.2%.

To make matters worse the report does not split the 355 respondents by electorate so we have no way of telling how many were in each electorate. Despite demographic breakdown of other details this was omitted. I suspect that is because the vast majotiy of the 355 respondents were actually in Rodney electorate.

If we assume a 50/50 split across electorate then that also makes a major impact on the margin of error, blowing it out to 7.5%.

Colin Craig was intellectually and statistically dishonest to suggest the poll result was just for Helensville electorate. I blame him and not the polling company for this, for even though Research First omitted the demographic split they still highlighted it in the title of the poll.

I am sure David Farrar will look at other questions and details in more detail but for now I want to focus on Question 8. This question is seriously dodgy.

The details are as follows:

By loading up the possible answers in such a manner they were actually forcing a positive outcome better than 66%. It was such a stupid question anyway because if you ask almost everyone if they want to be consulted on something they will almost always say yes. But to ask it and have two positive answers and one negative answer then the pollster, presumably under instruction from their client, have forced respondents to answer in the way the client wanted.

It is dishonest and makes the results for that question statistically irrelevant. The error is further compounded by the dishonest way that Colin Craig presented the results by saying that 89% of Helensville voters want to be consulted. That is actually a lie. The poll was conducted over Rodney and Helensville electorates and no split in results was given, in no way can he take the total figure and apply it just to Helensville.

Colin Craig continues to use dodgy polling results to support dodgy contentions. This is really¬†amateur¬†hour stuff politically and shows that Colin Craig hasn’t learned a thing from his bullshit polling in Rodney and Epsom prior to the last election. He may have a lot of money to burn being stupid but he is a real slow learner.

The Difference between Epsom and Rodney

John Armstrong talks about Mark Mitchell being asked to take a dive to let Colin Craig win Rodney to give National a life line. The precedent is when Don Brash endorsed Rodney Hide in Epsom, at the expense of Richard Worth, and Paul Goldsmith was told not to campaign in Epsom in exchange for a safe list position.

The difference between Worth, Goldsmith and Mitchell is Mitchell has a safe blue seat, he has a 20 year career ahead of him, and like most National back benchers it is in his best interests to see National go into opposition so he can get a promotion when all the senior people leave.

Richard Worth was dependent on Don Brash for a job after 2005 so he toed the line. Paul Goldsmith does what he is told and knew what he was getting into when he ran for Epsom. Paul has admirable ideological perspectives but this does not necessarily translate to vote winning. Mark Mitchell, on the other hand, has huge vote winning potential, a strong electorate infrastructure who are now all behind him, and a bright future that becomes only brighter if National loses in 2014.

It is hard to see Mark Mitchell take a dive. A guy who has a track record like Mark likes a scrap, and won’t shy away from one no matter who it is with. Peter Goodfellow is scarcely going to have him quivering in his boots. Mark is used to facing really scary people like armed offenders as a police officer and a whole lot of seriously bad, heavily armed arabs in the middle east, hell bent on killing him.

Really stern words from Peter Goodfellow or Greg Hamilton will likely be met with a polite “Get Fucked”. Far better that National looks to throw McCully under¬†the¬†bus if they really want Colin Craig holding them to ransom.

Rodney Selection Winners and Losers

Mark Mitchell won the acrimonious selection in Rodney last night, and it was a privilege to have been in the room during the process.


Mark Mitchell: Mark’s reputation is such it would have been an absolute travesty not to have had him selected. Reputation alone is not enough, and delegates in Rodney have told me what a fantastic guy he is, very good with people, and very genuine. It is hard to remember the last time a National candidate met delegates by helping them bail hay and then had a few beers afterwards, but this kind of touch builds loyalty, loyalty that helped Mark win on the first ballot.

Peter Goodfellow: Peter was ultimately responsible for the selection process and deserve credit for taking bold decisions to stop a deeply flawed process. Good work Peter, you have done the right thing.

Losers (0r as Phil Goff would say Not Winners)

Brent Robinson: Brent was outed as a branch stacking, immoral fundamentalist, and his preachy style on selection night really grated. He should never have tried to rig the selection as he probably would have won if he had not tried to rig the process.

Cehill Pienaar: As branch chair this man tried to ensure the fundy take over of the electorate by colluding with Brent over membership and events. His horrible political past has been exposed, and his backing the losing candidate now makes it inevitable he will be told to resign if he does not resign himself.

Karen Rolleston: For someone I keep hearing such good things about she needs to stop making dumb decisions, engage proper professional advise and start listening. She was told by respect senior party people she would lose Palmerston North. She did. She was told she would lose Rodney. She did. She was told she could well win North Shore, and she ignored this, meaning Maggie Barry is now the presumptive candidate in a field of pygmies.

Amateurs: Some boneheads in the Auckland region hierarchy have been putting about that candidates should not pay for advice or pay for strategy. They are as prissy and as puritanical as the old amateur era rugby people and need to stop this silliness. Laughably the main proponents of this argument are people who earn a living by charging for their services themselves.

If you want to be a National candidate there is a very small group of talented, experienced professionals who will greatly enhance your chances of winning. Yes they will cost, but who else won’t you pay ‚Äď your lawyer, your accountant, your printer, your speech coach, the petrol station for the gas to get to delegate meetings? Professional advice costs money all over town, why not in politics?

What I can’t understand is why paying for someone who gives you the best chance of a long career in politics is wrong or unethical or whatever else the buggers muddle in Auckland seem to think is reason for not engaging professionals. Aspiring candidates should call the tip line if they want introductions to competent political advisors.

Blog readers are well aware of my views on people who behave unethically, and the best way to out them is to publish information. I realise pride is a sin, but I’m feeling just a little bit proud that I have contributed so meaningfully to the selection of a really good candidate and future National MP. I am also proud that National know that they cannot cover up skullduggery in the party. The tipline callers are many and varied and the truth will out.

Rodney Selection Confirmed – Mark Mitchell will be the next MP for Rodney

Mark Mitchell won the Rodney selection on the first ballot. This is a huge win for National as they have a man proven internationally entering caucus, and with experience in areas where National is light on practitioners rather than theorists.

For those who don’t know about Mark the Sunday Star Times published a great article on him a few weeks back.

Mark appears to be an all round good guy, with heaps of mates all over the place, and what I am hearing from Rodney is he is exceptionally good at pressing the flesh. He now has a long career in parliament to look forward to, and good judges of politicians rate Mark very, very highly.

This is also a personal victory for Peter Goodfellow. Readers of this blog know I have not been afraid to bag Peter when I think he has underperformed but he has shown integrity and guts during this selection process and the party is stronger for it. 

Rodney Skulduggery Update

I have refrained from commenting on the Rodney selection in the last few weeks as the tipline has been quiet. The simple explanation for this is that the revised process has been a lot fairer than the process was before it was suspended, and this is a credit to Party President Peter Goodfellow who had the guts to stop an hopelessly flawed process.

Selection for Rodney is tonight, and so I want to run a quick recap on why the process was suspended and started again.

  1. Brent Robinson tried to win the process through unscrupulous means.
  2. He stacked his branch with members from his fundamentalist church, increasing his branch membership by around 600%. This completely blindsided the sitting MP and the other three branches, and forced an audit of membership.
  3. Brent then tried to intimidate candidates out of the race. One requested a meeting with the electorate chair and was ambushed by Cehill Pienaar, Brent Robinson and ten others and basically told Brent had the nomination won. Many quality candidates were likewise ambushed and scared off.
  4. At a meeting of delegates for nominees, Brent colluded with the electorate chair to stitch up his opponents by suggesting a speech to those in the room. He was prepared for this, and his opponents were not. New Zealand’s favourite grandmother, Maggie Barry, was intimidated out of the race by this and is now seeking the nomination in North Shore.

The wise words of Solomon provide some insights for the good delegates of Rodney:

Proverbs 28:2 When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.

As of late I have gained a great deal of understanding from Solomon’s wise words in the book of proverbs. There are many great verses that budding politicans would do well to read and understand the wisdom of Solomon. The behaviour exhibited in Rodney amongst some and in particular Brent Robinson was not the makings for a long term National MP. It smacks of hypocrisy, and as a Christian I find Brent‚Äôs behaviour absolutely appalling. Again Solomon provides appropriate words:

Proverbs 28:10 Those who lead good people along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the honest will inherit good things.

Delegates should choose their new MP carefully, and choose him or her from the other four candidates all who have not tried to rig selection. I wish Karen Rolleston, John Kirikiri, Chris Penk and Mark Mitchell well tonight.

Sounds like a good guy

The Sunday Star-Times has a profile on one of the candidates in the National Party Rodney selection battle, Mark Mitchell. I have blogged extensively on the skulduggery going on up there with delegate stacking at local and regional level in order to favour two candidates, and I also blogged about the dirty tricks and rumour-mongering that was going on.

The SST¬†article covers all of those aspects and sheds some light on the background of Mark Mitchell that shows just how scurrilous those rumours were.¬†I have met Mark Mitchell only once, ironically at the Botany victory party, where some of the rumour-mongers were also in attendance but wouldn’t speak with me. Hell even Peter Goodfellow talked with me that night.

Anyway this bloke seems to have the goods. Decorated hero, tough on crime, self-made man, tough under pressure and handles adversity well. The selection battle just got interesting.

Former cop Mark Mitchell’s exploits in the Middle East sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster ‚Äď but has he got what it takes to make it as a politician?

HE’S HAD violent confrontations with gangs and criminals during 14 years in the New Zealand police force. He’s spent eight years as a top international hostage negotiator, at one point fighting for his life in a five-day siege in Iraq, a story which is set to feature in a movie made by Brad Pitt. He’s built a multimillion-dollar business from scratch.

He’s engaged to Peggy Bourne, the widow of Kiwi rally ace Possum Bourne.

Now Mark Mitchell is chasing a political career, and hopes to succeed Lockwood Smith in the safe National seat of Rodney.

That’s one thing John Key hasn’t done! Getting a movie made of his exploits by Brad Pitt.

Wouldn’t the 42-year-old find parliament a bit, um, dull?

MAYBE NOT, if things continue as they’ve started. Mitchell was one of five people contesting the National Party candidacy for Rodney when the selection process was abruptly postponed earlier this month amid allegations of delegate stacking.

That dirty laundry was aired, but there’s been little publicity about a smear campaign against Mitchell. Documents were circulated questioning his work in the Middle East, appearing to suggest he was involved in a Muslim-funded Somalian private army. Things were getting nasty: cue the false start.

What the hell was going on in Rodney? The would-be-politician is already practised in the art of diplomacy.

“I’m not going to comment on that. All I’ll say is that any behaviour that can be seen to try to control an outcome, well, we shouldn’t accept that.”

Those rumours were particularly nasty and at the time very hard to counter because of the ban on speaking to the media. The ones spreading the rumours are well versed at these sorts of tactics, having employed then successfully over 30 years in politics.

It hasn’t deterred him. When nominations close for the second time tomorrow, Mitchell will be back on the candidate list.

Good to see he is tough and able to man-up.

“I was lost for a bit. I enjoyed the physical work, but my grandfather and family had instilled in me a strong sense of duty and I decided to join the police.”

Mitchell’s 14-year career was served in Auckland, Rotorua, Gisborne and Taupo, and he quickly became used to the physical danger. He and his police dog Czar were stabbed by a samurai sword-wielding criminal in Rotorua; both recovered to be awarded a police bravery commendation.

A decorated hero! Now that is quite a bit different from the rumours. I bet about now there is a few face-slaps going on with some people who should ahve known better.

In Gisborne, there were many violent confrontations with Mongrel Mobsters. In one incident, he and another officer were surrounded by 30 gang members. They talked themselves out of certain trouble, an early sign of Mitchell’s negotiation skills.

Mitchell left the force in 2003. He was carrying several injuries and decided to pursue new interests. He intended training polo ponies; he ended up an international security contractor.

Sounds like he could handle the inept machinations of longtime party hacks easily. He could even probably handle the Labour caucus meetings right now as well.

British kidnap and ransom risk-management firm Control Risks had been contracted by the British government to set up the security programme for the interim coalition government in Iraq. Someone he knew worked there and wanted Mitchell on board. His job would be to protect the diplomats and officials working for the interim government.

“It seemed like an interesting opportunity, and there was this sense of history in the making. What was happening in the Middle East was having a pretty profound effect on the rest of the world.”

Mitchell faced daily threats at the Coalition Provisional Authority Government base in An Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq.

The work involved transporting government officials to meetings around the country and protecting the sites where they lived. He was shot at, and his vehicles were blown up in roadside bomb attacks, but he was proud that no-one was hurt or killed on his watch.

In 2004 he did a stint training Iraqi security forces, including the National Guard and police, in crisis management, before deciding to go home for good.

Hmmm…that is really different from¬†the¬†rumours. He’s supposed to be a mercenary, but it turns out he was working for the British Government and the Iraqi Provisional Authority. More face-slapping from the gossippers.

BUT THE draw of the Middle East and the work pulled him back. The next call was from the Kuwait global logistics firm supplying food to the military forces in Iraq.

Agility Logistics was being targeted by Al Qaeda and the militia, and many staff were killed. They wanted Mitchell to improve security.

“Security was being subcontracted and I discovered fairly early on that when the heat was on, our people weren’t a priority. One week, we lost 32 staff.”

So the company set up subsidiary Threat Management Group to take security in-house. As CEO and shareholder, Mitchell grew the company from eight staff to about 500 in the first year.

The quality of their work soon won them top-level contracts, including protecting crucial infrastructures like ports, and keeping supply chains open.

Mitchell also became adept at kidnap and ransom negotiations, dealing with more than 100 hostage negotiations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Darfur.

One of the more haunting jobs was working alongside The Hague scientists charged with gathering evidence for Saddam Hussein’s war crimes trial.

Mitchell’s job was to protect the scientists, setting up a safe camp “in the middle of nowhere” next to mass graves, open them to allow the scientists access to evidence, and close them again.

“That was a very emotional job. We were confronted with the badly decomposed bodies of children clinging to their mothers. They’d just been bulldozed into the graves. Awful.”

And working for the UN on war crimes trials….really not a mercenary now. If I was one of the gossippers I would be really worried about a law suit about now. They were so far wrong it isn’t really funny anymore.

The closest Mitchell and his men came to being killed was in 2004, during a five-day siege of the An Nasiriyah compound, home to diplomats, officials, coalition forces and security staff.

The uprising Shi’a militia, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, was putting coalition forces under pressure across the country. The Italian-controlled compound was surrounded and under sustained attack. Mitchell was charged with defending it.

“They’d hit us during the day with mortar fire, and at night mount a physical attack. My team’s responsibility was the roof. We were very exposed. It was hot, dusty. We didn’t get much sleep and we had to ration our food. I saw every human emotion over those days.”

Armed with AK47s and two 50-calibre machine guns, they kept the militia at bay until coalition forces regained control. Their efforts would later be rewarded with a commendation from the Italian government.

The compound was evacuated and within 48 hours, Mitchell was having a barbecue and talking to his neighbours in Taupo. “That was surreal. I couldn’t really talk to people about it, as it was hard to comprehend.”

Did he kill anyone? “We were fighting for our lives, and the lives of the diplomats. There were casualties on both sides.” That’s all he’ll say on the matter.

During the siege, Mitchell worked closely with British Governor Rory Stewart, who headed the compound’s diplomat contingent. Stewart has made the leap into politics, and is a Conservative MP for Penrith, England. Stewart wrote a book on his time in Iraq, and Brad Pitt’s production company has bought the rights to his story.

Not only a commendation award for the Police but now one from¬†the¬†Italian Government. Everyone who was handed printouts by un-named party officials will now be wondering just what their game was. Clearly it wasn’t about telling the truth, or even about making sure the best candidate got selected. They now appear more interested in feather-bedding their mates than the best interests of the party.

He is proud of his achievements, and believes he has the skills to help New Zealand prosper. “I’ve run a successful international business, and have worked closely with foreign governments and officials. I have a strong global network and have built up excellent working knowledge of how different emerging markets work.

“I’m aware of the trade channels and where the opportunities are. A big part of our continued growth and prosperity relies on exports, and opening up those trade channels.”Some of those global contacts come from his volunteer work as security adviser to a World Economic Forum initiative which sees emergency logistics teams deployed into humanitarian disaster areas to ensure critical supplies get through.

Last year he oversaw missions to Haiti after the earthquake and Pakistan after the floods, and helped evacuate refugees from Lebanon.

Right, so decorated police hero in NZ and awarded for bravery by the Italian Government, and now he also has helped in humanitarian disaster zones and evacuating refugees for free. Unlike Helen Clark who is a disaster tourist for the UNDP, Mark Mitchell rolls up his sleeves and actually helps those in need.

Sounds like a bloody good guy, I’ll be watching very carefully what happens in the Rodney selection now. The National party can’t afford to put low level or even high level party hacks into parliament and leave far better qualified, capable candidates on the sidelines. I await the new delegates list and the results of pre-selection with interest.