Mike Sabin

Fat Tony on Northland

Mike Williams aka Fat Tony has a column in the Hawkes Bay Today about Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle.

MAKE no mistake, the outcome of the Northland byelection last Saturday is a political boilover of seismic proportions.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters won one of the National Party’s safest seats with an election night majority of more than 4000 votes, erasing a National Party majority of over 9000 votes in the general election just a few months before. Winston Peters’ final majority is likely to increase when the nearly 1000 newly-enrolled special votes get included in the total.

This 13,000 vote turnaround is unprecedented in our political history, but it is the internal dynamics of Peters’ triumph that should give Prime Minister John Key and National Party campaign manager Stephen Joyce pause for very serious reflection.

Apart from a governing party losing a safe seat, two statistics set this contest apart from any previous byelection. About half of the voters chose to cast their ballot before election day and the level of participation was huge.

The early voting phenomenon is unprecedented, and it exceeds a trend in recent polls.

The turnout level is a genuine abnormality. It has been a rule of thumb for years that byelection turnout levels are half of the previous general poll. The Christchurch East byelection saw 13,000 electors vote compared with the 28,000 who had voted in the previous general election.

This is the established pattern.

Northland broke that mould. With 28,000 voting in the byelection, this wasn’t much short of the 34,000 that voted in the general election five months before.

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Who to blame? Richard Harman has some ideas

Someone in National needs to be held to account for losing a seat they had held for 70 years.

Today is their caucus meeting and there is much to mull over, especially the actions of the campaign team during and post the campaign.

Richard Harman attempts to point the finger.

Was it the candidate?

The candidate, Mark Osborne, won selection largely on the back of votes from the northern end of the electorate centred on Kaitaia where he lives. Those votes were marshalled by Mr Carter.

Mr Osborne defeated the much more locally credentialed Grant McCullum from Wellsford who is also a member of the National Party Board.

The problem with having the north select the candidate is that the largest segments of the population live in the south, around the Bay of Islands and across to the west coast around ?Dargaville.

Kaitaia is over 80 kilometres away and Mr Osborne, who manages a Council facility there, is simply not a big enough name for the people in the south to know much about him.


On the campaign trail he looked a stunned mullet, plainly out of his depth with little charisma and nothing much to say.

But it would be unfair to blame him alone.

National badly misread the mood of the electorate and here the fingers get pointed more obliquely, more subtly at Mr Joyce.

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Northland is not feeling neglected at all. It is angry

Prime Minister John Key has vowed to do all he can over the next two and a-half years to win Northland back after voters dealt his party a humiliating defeat.

Mr Key acknowledged the party had work to do in Northland — a contrast to his stance when he gave Mr Peters “zero chance” of winning.

“The region has been struggling for decades and although we have been making progress, Northlanders have clearly told us they are not satisfied with the rate of progress and we understand that,” Mr Key said from Melbourne, where he had gone to watch the Cricket World Cup final rather than spend Saturday with his Northland candidate.

“I’d like to assure Northlanders we’re going to continue to work hard to deliver more progress. We plan to work hard to win the seat back in the general election in two and a-half years.” Read more »

Armstrong on Key

John Armstrong comes out discussing the?fact that John Key’s invincibility is now dented after Northland.

Like all persuasive political spin, National’s attempt to put the blame for its thrashing in the Northland byelection down to “a unique set of circumstances” will get some traction because that rationale contains a strong element of the truth.

The governing party would be deluding itself, however, if it thinks there are no major ramifications for National beyond that electorate’s boundaries.

Sure, the circumstances triggering the byelection were unique in making voters angry about being kept in the dark as to why previous MP Mike Sabin was obliged to resign from Parliament.

[…] ?? Read more »

Is John Key covering up anything else?


Following Mike Sabin?s resignation for “personal reasons? an astute opposition would be asking John Key is he protecting any other MPs or Party office holders who have suppression orders over criminal acts?

There is no excuse for covering up criminal acts or even unconscionable ratbag behaviour, and John Key would have a huge problem if he has covered up any other offenders. ? Read more »

Key dying in a ditch for Steve Joyce

John Key is dying in a ditch defending the campaign debacle overseen by Steve Joyce.

Prime Minister John Key admits National has been delivered a message by Northland – but rejects suggestions it is a tipping point for his Government.

Key told Stuff?Peters ran a good campaign and had massive name recognition up against a relative unknown, National’s Mark Osborne.

But the win was a result of unique circumstances, including Labour throwing its weight behind Peters, turning the contest into a two horse race. People should not read much more into it than that, he said.

“We congratulate him on the win. We will take away some lessons from last night. It’s a simple thing for our opponents to claim it’s the beginning of the end but it really isn’t and it would be massively overstating it (to say otherwise).”

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Northland feels like a neglected spouse and has decided to sleep around a bit

…what a right royal mess Peters has kicked up in the sand for National. On Monday he was wooing the teachers. Tuesday it was the farmers in Dargaville. Wednesday was the ladies, at Ladies Day at the Whangaroa Golf Club. Peters’ man on the ground in Dargaville was Rob Stevenson, a farmer who had supported National.

He even sought selection for National for the seat after Sabin resigned. Now this farmer was Winston’s “for a range of reasons”. He wasn’t alone – Focus NZ was formed by farmers and its candidate, Joe Carr, has now endorsed Peters. When even the farmers are revolting against National, things aren’t going well. National also clearly knows that. Its candidate, Mark Osborne, said on Sunday he had not been privy to the party’s internal polling. The only reason for that is because it must be appalling.

Peters’ latest line is that voters are simply taking him on a trial basis. “I’m not asking for your loyalty for 77 years, or even seven,” he told them in Paihia. “I’m just asking for 2.5 years and if I don’t do better than the lot that’s in there already, you can kick me out.” He’s picked the right time and the right lines.

Everyone knows that Northland isn’t anything but True Blue. Read more »

Key is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t

John Key is heading back to Northland, trying to rescue National from a humiliating by-election defeat on Saturday.

The prime minister is returning early from a visit to Japan so he can campaign alongside National’s candidate Mark Osborne today and tomorrow.

It’s going to take all Mr Key’s campaigning skills to save Mr Osborne, and it may be too late.

Mr Peters thinks it is.

Mr Osborne, a council worker with no political experience, has been out of his depth in public encounters with Mr Peters.

Mike Sabin retained Northland in last year’s general election with a 9300 vote majority.

It’s vacant because Mr Sabin resigned at the end of January, citing personal issues.

One of Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics is “Never hug a corpse”. ?Northland and Osborne are political corpses, as are the election team of Joyce and de Joux. ?? Read more »

Amateur hour

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When this faux outrage about John Key not being able to nail a sign in place was going on, I rolled my eyes.

Turns out, having the skill to put up an election sign properly is an underrated skill.

That’s both painful and embarrassing…

Vance is right for once

Andrew Vance has climbed down off her high horse and written a sensible column for once.

What did the people of Northland do to deserve this? Barely has the country recovered from the mania of September’s general election, but the hoardings are back up and the place is crawling with politicians.

The beleaguered electorate – which will choose a replacement for National’s Mike Sabin on March 28 – has been promised 10 new bridges, Winston Peters and as many selfies with the PM as they like.

Most folk were more interested in the results from the Ninety Mile Beach snapper fishing contest. And who can blame them? This election is less about the people than the politicians.

Northland is much neglected. The Government has done little to upgrade substandard roads, or lift below-average incomes and educational achievement.

Peters makes much of his local roots. But he has done little for the constituency in almost four decades in Parliament. NZ First couldn’t find a candidate to stand in the previous three elections.

Winston is a political charlatan, but one who has more cheek than a fat man’s bum…he can safely pretend he loves the North because he knows the media will let him off the hook like they always do.

Pundits often overstate the importance of by-elections. This time they are correct – the stakes are high for Peters and National.

This contest gives Peters another chance to give John Key a bloody nose. The old-timer is yet to better Key, who has previously denied him a place in Parliament and the kingmaker role in 2014. Winning an electorate seat will shore up NZ First’s position heading into 2017, even if Peters retires. After all his swagger, losing brings public humiliation. ?? Read more »