Politik reports about the Evil Six

Look a flying pig!

Richard Harman is getting to the nub of the issue in the Barclay case…Bill English and his little band of hold outs and their shopping of the story to a complicit Newsroom.

English yesterday faced intensive questioning from Labour Leader Andrew Little, and that can be expected to continue.

However when Little asked his quesitons he was obviously unaware that just minutes before English had admitted what he ahd denied earlier in the day.

Later he issued a statement saying: “The Prime Minister’s grasp of the truth in these matters has been found lacking.

“It’s now a matter of the Prime Minister’s leadership, integrity and credibility.”

Actually it is, much and all as I dislike Andrew Little, but it really is the Prime Minister’s issue. This was his hit job and it has blown up in his face.

Meanwhile, senior National Party sources were discounting reports that the party had launched a formal investigation into how Barclay got re-selected last year.

Instead, they said they had charged former Minister, Kate Wilkinson, with trying to find out what was going on on the selection.

Depending on her report, they could, if needed, launch a formal inquiry.

Her’s will be the second party investigation into claims and counter-claims coming from the electorate where passions are running hot.

Kate Wilkinson is a Bill English associate, she was useless in cabinet and was axed, subsequently resigning from parliament altogether. I wouldn’t hold much confidence in her abilities.

The matter surfaced yesterday after a Newsroom report which produced two key bits of information about a police investigation into allegations that Barclay had secretly recorded taped a staff member who he was ultimately to dismiss.

Newsroom reported that English had texted a supporter of the dismissed staff member saying that Barclay had told him he had secretly recorded her.

Barclay had earlier denied to an electorate meeting that he had done that.

And English also texted that to end the employment dispute, money had been paid to the dismissed staffer from the National Party’s taxpayer-provided “Leader’s Fund”.

When English was asked about the texts on his way into Caucus yesterday, he said he could not recall who had told him about the recording. Meanwhile, Barclay not only denied telling English about the recording but denied that he had made any recording.

However later in the day, on his way into the House, English effectively threw Barclay under the bus by conceding that it was Barclay who had told him that he had recorded Dickson.

He can’t really throw Barclay under the bus, Barclay is an electorate MP and if he refuses to resign then there is not one thing Bill English can do about it. Has he learned nothing from his attempts to get Maurice Williamson.

The matter has not surprised senior figures in the party spoken to by POLITIK. All requested anonymity.

Barclay was 24 when he replaced English in the Clutha-Southland seat, and even some of his supporters wonder whether he was mature enough to become an MP.

He faced an entrenched and much older office staff who had been used to filling in for English who only visited the electorate infrequently because he was Finance Minister and Deputy Leader.

Relations between Barclay and the staff soon broke down.

And in April last year Glenys Dickson, the staff member at the centre of the row resigned.

Ever since Barclay has been the subject of a long-running campaign against him from Dickson and her supporters in the electorate.

One former electorate chair, Lloyd Anderson, a Gore real estate agent, described the dissidents as the “evil six”.

They are all Bill English sycophants. They didn’t want the young whipper snapper and were aghast when he won the first selection and then bitter when he rinsed their man in the second. They have simply ramped up their campaign and now enlisted Newsroom in their task.

Allegations and counter-allegations flowed through the year, so the National Party sent the chair of the NZ Racing Board and a member of its board, Glenda Hughes, to investigate what was going on.

She apparently inflamed things and seems to have ended up joining the criticism of Barclay.

No apparently about it. She was donkey deep in fanning the flames and was involved in Simon Flood’s doomed campaign to oust Barclay at selection.

However, Barclay won the selection at a  selection meeting that had over 100 delegates present and the Otago Daily Times reported that most stood and clapped and cheered when his victory was announced.

There matters might have rested.

But the Newsroom story showed, in the words of one senior party official, that having failed to get Barclay de-selected, the opposition were now using the media to achieve the same goal.

A measure of how high tensions in the electorate have been came with claims that Barclay recently tried to persuade National Party board members to terminate the party membership of the “evil six”.

Party officials told POLITIK that this idea went nowhere because expelling members was likely to divide the electorate even more and that the party could not tolerate MPs demanding who should be expelled.

However it has agreed to have former Minister, Kate Wilkinson, run a low-key investigation into claims about delegate stacking at the selection meeting last year.

Officials said that claims that selection meetings had been stacked with ineligible delegates were frequently made because the National Party has a very loose system of appointing delegates to its selection meetings.

They thought it unlikely that even if some delegates were ruled ineligible in Clutha-Southland that it would have any effect on the overall vote count.

That’s what Wilkinson is trying to sort out.

She couldn’t organise a root in a brothel. Her report will be a whitewash in favour of Bill English.

But National’s real problems are not with Barclay and Clutha-Southland — they are with the big dent that English’s credibility has taken because of the way he has handled the matter.

It’s becoming a truism of politics everywhere; that it’s usually not the scandal that matters but the cover-up afterwards.

And Bill English is furiously trying to cover up his involvement in it all when it is as plain as the nose on your face that this has all been run out of his office.

 

-Politik


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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