Good stuff, members find their courage

For many years now there has be an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t challenge sitting MPs in the National party.

It is of course a silly notion, politics is all about blood and guts not kisses and cuddles.

The sentiment from head office and MPs is simply self interest…they want a nice tame membership and protection for incumbents. However as time moves on the group think that comes with first attaining power tends to wane and people get other ideas about who should or should not represent their area. Then the challenges come.

The first open challenge in quite sometime is happening in Kaikoura.

Marlborough grapegrower and fourth-generation farmer Stuart Smith is to challenge sitting MP Colin King for the National Party’s Kaikoura electorate candidacy for next year’s election.

The party opens nominations for its South Island electorates tomorrow and Mr Smith said he was putting his name forward.  

Mr Smith, flanked by supporters Tim Leslie and Sturrock Saunders, said yesterday that he had been working towards this for nearly two years.

“I have been impressed by the groundswell of support for positive change in the Kaikoura electorate. My team has grown membership significantly and we are looking forward to the selection challenge.”

Potential candidates have until November 15 to get their nominations in, and the party was expected to select a candidate on December 17.

Mr King has been the National Party’s candidate for Kaikoura for three terms, first selected in 2005.

Whenever potential candidates have asked me if they should challenge a sitting MP I have said they should, with a few provisos. A carpet bagger generally doesn’t get a chance unless there is a stitch up like in Helensville. Everyone wanted Brian Neeson gone and all factions in Auckland united in a dance of the devil to oust him. The membership and the hierarchy were complicit in knifing Neeson in favour of John Key.

Judith Collins also gained her place in parliament via a challenge, rolling over the top of Warren Kyd.

Generally challengers win, especially if they have put in the spade work with the members. But Ruth Richardson failed in her challenge against Sir Roy Jack in Rangitikei before moving south and winning nomination in Tasman and then in Selwyn.

I’ve heard of a few more challenges coming up…I look forward to them. Challenges are a good sign the membership is restless and emboldened.

Right now Colin King has two choices…fight, or retire gracefully.


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  • conwaycaptain

    Three terms, he leaves with a pension and perks

    • Guest

      Not a bad deal when you think about it.

      3 terms, 9 years and you
      get paid a handsome sum for the rest of your life and travel paid for
      and you never have to contribute again, and better yet its tax payers
      money. Good old troughers, and the PM entrenching the pay after 3 terms
      makes him the head trougher.

  • tarkwin

    Wish someone would challenge Phil Heatley.

    • ridsel

      I used to be from that electorate (a fairly long time ago). What’s the issue with Phil?

      • tarkwin

        He’s the invisible man. You never hear from him, he does bugger all for the people of Whangarei. He is your classic job for life if I do what I’m told kind of person. They tried promoting him and that failed. Whangarei is a super safe seat and the people up here deserve better.

  • Dick Brown

    If he makes a stand against deep sea drilling he will probably win.

    • David Tocker

      No Way, He gave a speech out at Northport last year and he is keen as a green been for drilling (Talked about how good Taranaki’s safety record is etc)
      I’m not everyone, but people up here are used to the refinery etc, I think most people up here would be quite happy for the jobs etc. EDIT: Just realised you were talking about Kaikoura, I’m referring to Phil Heatley.

      • tarkwin

        I wish they would start drilling up here. Have you noticed all the anti mining signs around the Whakapara area? Too many hippies that don’t want jobs creeping in. And as for Phil, things could be worse we could be stuck with his predecessor a certain Mr Banks.

        • David Tocker

          Yeah Whakapara always has been a bit of a hippy area. I heard something about wanting to reopen a mercury mine up the hill there (I was told there used to be one up there, I’ve been hunting up there and there are holes in the ground all over the place in the bush and there is a sealed up doorway near the waterfall)
          The funny thing is that it is probably leaching mercury into their water quite happily now, but if they built a new one there would be very strict resource conditions that would stop this.

  • Rimutaka

    Colin who?

    • Jman

      hehe snap

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      Colin King, related to Annette King I believe….

  • Jman

    Colin who?

  • peterwn

    I doubt there is any ‘unwritten rule’, except to the extent that an ill-conceived attempt to oust a sitting member can be politically damaging. To engineer an ousting basically requires getting the ‘numbers’ within an electorate which in practice means getting sufficient branches on your side that the wannabe has sufficient supportive selection delegates. This in turn means doing door knocking and being able to mobilise others to do doorknocking. Dynamics would be different in unitary electorates (no branch structure), this involves getting activists on your side so the wannabe can get as many ‘favourable’ selection delegates as possible. PM, senior MP’s and ‘Head Office’ can only persuade and lobby the locals with regard to selection, they have no formal ‘say’ (apart from the rarely used Board veto or to a limited extent at pre-selection).

    The converse also applies to the incumbent MP. He or she needs to give the electorate tender loving care so he or she retains the confidence and support of the activists, branches and membership. Most electorate MP’s are reasonably competent and achieve this which is often sufficient to ward off wannabes. Top notch (especially referring to ‘electorate’ capabilities) electorate MP’s like Maurice Williamson or Nick Smith win disproportionately more votes than the party vote, are instrumental in boosting the party vote in their electorates and hence are very powerful and influential MP’s – witness Maurice’s come-back from the ‘departure lounge’ in the early-mid 2000’s.

    So such dynamics does give the impression of an ‘unwritten rule’.

  • Toryboy

    The problem with a challenge, unless the MP is clearly hopeless, is that the challenger and his band of supporters always get a shock to find the overwhelming majority of people feel obliged to simply support the local Member.

  • Liberty

    Why doesn’t Mr Smith stand for Tasman as it is up for grabs.
    Currently held by an inept Labour MP
    Who is too busy trying appease the greens and snails. Doesn’t
    care a stuff about the workers. With his lack of support for the Dennison

  • Goldie

    Colin King is a hell of a nice guy – genuinely considerate of all people and a loyal party man. He is a farmer and knows his local electorate like the back of his hand. But let’s be honest – he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since enbtering parliament 2005, and Stuart Smith looks like a very good quality candidate.

  • If you want a list of MPs who could use a challenge, then look no further than here:

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    I thinking knifing my uncle Brian Neeson for John Key was a big mistake… Street polling done by Rogue Morgan for Labour suggests that Key will lose his seat this election…..

    • Hazards001


      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Laugh at your own peril….my sources tell me that Labour is considering a former All Black to stand against Key….watch the space bro…

        • Hazards001

          Yeah..I heard Murray Deaker was looking for an excuse to play more golf!