It was a completely muddled launch of a new local political party in the past few days. The Wellington Party popped onto the scene and was immediately tagged as “right-wing”, by the Dominion Post no doubt, lacking a Mayor and candidates.
What was interesting was that the original right-wing label stuck for less than a few hours before the Dominion Post altered their headline to “centre-right.” Bizarre. So, who complained and who capitulated? Generally, in journalism, you interview, fact check, and the subject has no control over what is published after that.
But it gets stranger the more you read.
It will also field a slate of regional and local council candidates including former test cricketer John “Mystery” Morrison, PR consultant and NZ Racing Board chair Glenda Hughes and BATS theatre front-of-house manager Troy Mihaka.Centre-right ‘Wellington Party’ to contest council elections
The Wellington Party hopes it can unite the right-wing vote behind their nominee – and are strategically targeting specific local seats to tilt the council’s balance to the right.
It’s a tough ask in a city that has traditionally been centre-left, with Labour dominating local and central seats for years. The current WCC is definitely centre-left and with the Labour chokehold on the Council seats you get predictable policy.
The party needed to win just two council seats to shift the balance to a centre-right control of the city council, he said.
Well no, they need at least seven. So they either have to convince a slew of outlying centre-right independents to join the Wellington Party or they have to get new blood around the Council table.
Troy Mihaka is in the mix, he ran for Lambton Ward in 2016, and came dead last. I remember his campaign at the time and I never would have considered him to be right-wing. He’ll sure as eggs be hoping this time around, he gets a better result.
Out East, in one of the toughest wards outside of Southern, they are fielding an unknown “petroleum lawyer”, Sean Rush.
The new party will consume a proposed Wellington First party announced last December by former councillor Bryan Weyburne and businessman Digby Paape on a pro-car, anti-bike platform.
That was the anti-car party, as they were tagged… So is this going to become a car vs cyclist election? God I hope not.
So, what can we expect from this “party?”
Leveraging off the discontent around the city when it comes to transport, no doubt attempting to pour petrol on the anti-cycle sentiment, and grabbing up any centre-right voters they can to roll the current bloc.
Key to all of this will be their mayoral candidate, who has not yet been announced. About the only way they can break the bloc is to get a very well-known, young, appealing candidate who can then direct voters to tick the box on all Wellington Party candidates across the board.
Honestly, this feels so disorganised and chaotic you would have to think that there are some amateur National Party strategists behind the whole idea.
What are they going to do? We have no idea as yet, though they are targeting all the usual hot points from housing to transport. Transport was the only “policy” that had any words around it at the time of writing this article, here’s what they had to say:
Our plan to deliver transport that works for you is built on five key commitments:
· Reduce congestion now, not in 20 years
· Demand and deliver a reliable bus and ferry network
· Build safer, more integrated, cycling and walking options
· Deliver expanded and more frequent rail services
· Plan for the future of transport
All good, I hear you say, nodding your heads. The question is how. “Our plan” says there is a plan to actually make this happen, so where is it. How is it going to work. What does day one look like. Who is going to make it happen. What is it going to cost. Et al.
And yes, I am picking on them a little bit and I will pick on all candidates who appear making promises with no detail behind it, i.e. the how part. Just like every time there is an election, you don’t get to make promises without stating how it is going to be carried out.
The social media war has started. I do not condone politics that attacks the person rather than the issue and the left were very, very quick to get stuck into the people who are part of the Wellington Party on various platforms, which is disappointing and sadly not unexpected from that group.
Having said that, the Wellington Party came straight out and went after Justin Lester, so they kind of get what’s coming to them if they want to engage in the traditional National Party Dirty Politics attack style.
And I wonder if this election is then going to be dirtier than the last three, it has the hallmarks of it, the rumours are circulating, frankly some of them quite gross and secondary-school playground level, already.
A rambling Tuesday missive from me I am afraid. I’m closer to channelling Hunter S Thompson, based on a fuel of egg sandwiches, two beers, a long-black, and a distinct lack of sleep. And oh god, John Morrison, who I really like, he’s a guilty pleasure, like a service station pie at 11 o’clock at night when you’ve had too many drinks.