Guest Post – If you want to win you need to pay for competent advice


With local government elections nearing and national ones next year, we have all sorts of individuals coming out of the woodwork who want to run for office.  Reading your article about polling companies and how Facebook and Twitter are offering a service now as well makes me wonder again about the lack of common sense in our potential candidates.  Mind you, is it a bad thing to have the Darwinian theory in action?  Do we really want to help those who do not understand the very basics of fighting an election?

Every election round a friend of mine who has been elected to a number of boards is approached by those who want help getting themselves elected.  “You are successful, so please tell me how to do it.”  And they appear oblivious to the consideration that she may actually standing herself, and why should she train her competition!  And they want help for free.  Mentoring they call it, hopefully in the belief that with that label they wont have to pay.  And then of course they don’t do what you suggest anyway, so why bother.   

Technical expertise costs money and has real value.  Running for election costs money, and the bigger the prize the higher the cost.  Local bodies may cost less than National elections, but unless you are very well known, liked and trusted it is likely to cost you between $5,000 – $30,000 and it is hard to find people who will put money into your campaign unless they are certain you are going to win, and that you can deliver on whatever they want if you did get elected.  And nothing is certain in local body elections, either in winning or in delivering on your promises.  Unless you are Mayor of Auckland, you have limited powers on Council unless you build a team around you that you know and trust.  And trust is hard in politics!  In fact any experienced politician knows that loyalty is a very very rare commodity as politics is about deals and trade offs.

Many people who have not worked as true insiders in political parties also believe that the “Party will pay” for their campaign.  In the three political parties I have known, that is not true.  You have to pay for your own campaign and are usually expected to fund the head office campaigns as well.  You dig very deep.  You have to build your own team.  And if you want to be high up on the “list” you have had to bring in big donors for the head office as well

From time to time over the years I have considered running courses for aspiring politicians.  But my own market research repeatedly tells me that:

  1. No one wants to pay
  2. They won’t believe what you tell them to do is correct so they don’t do it. And when they lose they blame the trainer for not teaching them how to win.

So I have taken that off my list of services!

Winning elections is not an amateur sport.  It is a professional game and requires a professional approach.  And most candidates won’t believe me, and will lose.


Frances is dead right. If you want to win then you have to do three things. Pay for advice, make sure that advice is from someone with a track record in winning and lastly, you need to listen to them.

Politics is not for amateurs. It is a professional sport these days and professionals deserve to get paid.

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