And then there were four… and then there were five

Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell and Steve Joyce are the latest to join the election race for National party leader. Mitchell’s announcement is strange considering he was telling people two weeks ago that he was loyal to Paula Bennett. Joyce’s annoucement this morning on the Hosking radio show is even stranger and makes Mark look like  a bit of a dick for wanting to save him when he had aspirations of saving himself.

First to Mark Mitchell:

Now there are four: Mark Mitchell has confirmed he will contest the National Party leadership.

Mitchell confirmed this afternoon that he will contest the position vacated by Bill English.

Mitchell, a former police dog handler, said National was built on very strong foundations and had 80 years of history of delivering.

“I am entering the race because I want to win. I am entering to win.”

He said what set him apart was his leadership ability and a strong track record building a team.

“The reason I am putting myself up for the leadership is because I want New Zealand to be an even better country.”

He said he wanted to hold the “shambolic Government” to account.

“I’m not scared of taking on an opponent.”

Mitchell said he has “very strong support” but would not state how many MPs were backing him. He ruled out going for the deputy leader role.

Mitchell dismissed talk of National requiring “generational change stuff.”

He said he was disappointed when Labour leader Jacinda Ardern had said it was her generation’s turn.

“When you’re the leader of a country, you lead for all generations.”

Good stuff, certainly better than Bridges and Adams and shows he’s learned from their cock-ups. Combative, which is to be expected.

But, he has signalled a continued war with Winston Peters, which isn’t surprising since his campaign manager is one of the guys being sued by Winston and the fact he is protecting both Bennett and Joyce.

Mitchell said the main priority was to hold the Government to account. Of NZ First and Labour, he said: “You’ve got seven per cent that is starting to control 34 per cent. And they are going to have to deliver.”

Mitchell said he was on good terms with NZ First leader Winston Peters through the Parliamentary rugby team.

“But Winston is on notice. If I am leader – he’s in Government, we’re in Opposition. We are going to hold him to account.”

He pointed to the difference of opinion over the waka jumping bill as a sign the Government was already starting to fight internally.

Mitchell said he was not concerned the National leadership race would turn nasty. “It will be an open and fair race.”

He would not say who he would like as his deputy.

But, but… he’s loyal to Paula Bennett. Shame she is cutting a deal with Simon Bridges right now.

Mitchell also signalled Steven Joyce would be kept on as finance spokesman, saying he was doing an amazing job.

Really? How? His tax cuts were unwound in five minutes. This is just part of the “Save Joyce” campaign. God knows why, especially as this morning Joyce announced his own tilt at the leadership. Did all these people wanting to save Joyce not actually talk to him?

Mitchell has hired Clark Hennessy – a former staffer – to help with his campaign. Hennessy was one of those NZ First leader Winston Peters had included in legal action over the leak of his super overpayments.

Hennessy will prove embarrassing, and is a link to the dirty tricks of the Joyce campaign.

Mark’s a good guy. I backed him for Rodney, but I’m not entirely sure having your campaign run by Hennessy is a good move, and neither is having the support of half of the old guard. I think Mark Mitchell has just declared that he is the second campaign that represents the status quo. National need better than the old tuskers who cost them the election.

Steve Joyce announced this campaign this morning as well:

Steven Joyce has confirmed he will contest the National Party leadership.

Joyce told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking he would become the fifth candidate to replace Bill English.

Joyce said he had lots of colleagues and regular New Zealanders telling him to put his name forward.

“My view is it has always been about the National Party, it’s not about me personally.”

Joyce said he was not troubled by National’s dip in last night’s 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll, down three points.

Not troubled? Not troubled by the first time in, like, forever Labour are in front of National by themselves? Not troubled that instead of National governing alone it looks like Labour could?

Instead he took it as a reminder to people that being the largest party is not a given and good polling was not a given.

“You actually have to go out and earn everyday the respect of the public and the right of the public to contest for the election in 2020. It’s a contest of ideas and a contest of how well organised you are. And that’s the challenge for our party.”

Joyce trusted that he would have support in caucus. He told Hosking he did not have a deputy in mind.

“There are some people that are going to absolutely support you and some people that will probably support you, it all depends on how it goes out.”

Joyce believed the race was more important than any individual.

“It’s all about the future of New Zealand. It’s not about me,” he told Hosking.

“I worry about the current crowd. I don’t think they have a plan and where they have got a plan it will take us backwards.”

“It’s time to step up, if I believe in what I do believe in.”

It’s a shame reflections in mirrors can’t vote for leader. If they could then Joyce could look forward to at least two votes.


-NZ Herald


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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.