Crone gets another pasting

Seems that Xero Hero Vicky Crone is not impressing anyone.

Just 18 months ago, Victoria Crone was fizzing about her new role as Managing Director, NZ and New Markets, of accounting software giant Xero. A month into the job and she was enthusing on the company blog about “a fun and energy to this place that’s infectious”, and how “I love a company that eats its own dog food”. She ended the entry: “Who wouldn’t want to be part of this?”

On Monday it turned out that Ms Crone didn’t. She wanted to be mayor of Auckland instead. She’s walked out on the job where so recently, she’d “been overwhelmed by people’s friendliness, energy, pride [and], willingness to help”, into the bear pit that is local government politics.

You have to wonder how on earth the two grand dames of the National Party, Michelle Boag and Sue Wood, who came knocking and pleading, managed to pull it off. Cordon bleu dog food, perhaps?

It’s clearly a chick thing.  This isn’t about the best person for the job at all.  Boag and Wood are trying to create their next client to leech off – a Tizard v2.0 if you like.   But they have chosen poorly.  Media training isn’t going to fix the “oh my gosh” awkwardness of Crone.  

At her campaign launch she said it was important that “experienced leaders of my generation step up”. She added that “not being a serial politician is actually the biggest asset I bring to Auckland”. Her first point is a good one. Auckland local politics could do with some 42-year-old “new blood”. But her naive comment about “serial” politicians reminds me of former prime minister Keith Holyoake’s much repeated advice to tenderfoot MPs, to “breathe through their noses” from the sidelines until they’ve learned the ropes.

The serial politician jibe was obviously directed at her main mayoral rival, former Labour Party leader Phil Goff, but it also smears the 20 existing councillors – most of whom will be planning to contest next year’s election – and every other professional politician.

True, we all enjoy taking pot shots at politicians. But to attack your rival for being experienced, and to claim your biggest asset is being ignorant of the political process, is perverse.

I’m guessing Ms Crone didn’t sell herself to Contact Energy shareholders last week by proudly declaring her ignorance of the ways of the business world. Yet here we have her seeking support to become mayor of the Auckland Super City, the home of a third of New Zealanders, by bragging about her political inexperience.

I have no doubt that Ms Crone has skills, but the problem is that for the first time in her career, instead of trusting her own instincts, she’s struck out into a completely new area – one she knows nothing about – and is relying on one of the worst political advisers in Michelle Boag.

Crone will have been promised all sorts of support, all sorts of money and all sorts of soft landings within the National Party, none of which are deliverable by Boag.  The 9th floor have decreed nobody will get official endorsement, and the queues for National safe seats aren’t going to get jumped by a business person who gets “fizzed” simply because she’s in a company where everyone else is working hard.

Too many people enter politics thinking they can succeed on their own skills and merits.  Not so.  It’s actually the team you surround yourself with.  You’re just the product they are selling.

Michelle Boag

Michelle Boag


– Brian Rudman, NZ Herald

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