Northland Election: National takes a thrashing

We are putting it lightly when we say the New Zealand National Party and Brand Key has taken an absolute thrashing over the course of the Northland by-election. It seems to have gone from one extreme to the next for National in Northland which ultimately is now tarnishing the National Party brand over the country.

An electorate that should be an easy win for National gone in the matter of weeks. It’s unfortunate that I have been given the job of dissecting the vile role National has played in Northland over the past few years, I know its a hard job to do, but worth it.

Northland’s by-election yesterday attracted over 30,000 votes with more then 15,000 heading Winston Peter’s way, and just over 11,000 going to Mark Osborne.

11 candidates contested the heavily popular seat which was left vacant by the sudden shock resignation of National MP Mike Sabin citing “personal reasons”, father of TV3 political reporter Brook Sabin, if you hadn’t already made the connection.

The election result evidently means National lose an MP, putting the party on 59 MP’s in the house which ultimately means that the National Party will require votes from their support partners United Future and the Maori Party if they wish to pass legislation freely. New Zealand First will gain an MP, an massive push for the left wing, putting the parties seats in parliament to 12.

Why did this happen?

There were numerous accidents and incidents within the National Party, big and small, controversial and not that decided the election result weeks before the result was even published. These incidents not only occurred within Northland for National, but also with the countries senior MP’s and prime minister John Key. For instance, during the Northland campaign Prime Minister John Key rushed off to Taranaki forcing a Taranaki primary school to cancel an educational field trip so Key could use the space. As for Mark Osborne an controversial incident for him was definitely an recent – Osborne’s involvement in losing $700,000 of ratepayers money in the controversial Te Ahu centre has him under an current investigation by the Far North District Council. Then the mysterious departure of MP Mike Sabin where the National Party are keeping quiet not publishing any information as to why Sabin left in the first place.

Over this time National leader John Key didn’t have any successes in Parliament. Over the course of the election he voted down a bill which would ensure a decrease in New Zealand kids going hungry. He voted down a bill ensuring all rental homes were warm and dry, fighting off disease. He oversaw a sharp decrease in disabled children getting support. He shut a local Taranaki school out of their local musuem. Brand Key, which normally works everywhere in New Zealand, didn’t work in Northland. The electorate, which has clearly had enough of National and John Key, wanted to send a message to the government. That is what they have done.

Mainstream media haven’t been too helpful to National either this by-election with media outlets taking a neutral stance on politics, never a positive for Key in that. In fact, 25 March with the 3News Reid Research Poll was just another mainstream media hit at National. “Why is it that National are going down in this by-election? Northland has been ignored. What did the Nats do for remedy purposes? They put in a numpty called Mark Osborne, and its going to bite,” 3News Duncan Garner reported.

“When Northlanders go into the polling station this weekend they will see a few names. They will see high profile rockstar, and angry bugger Winston Peters, or do they wish to go to the rockstar show of Mark Osborne? Question – who? Exactly.” Radio LIVE reported.

Ironically so far I haven’t even had to bring up the BRIBE, and yes, it was a bribe, 74% of Northland voters said so, of the National Party bridges regime. It’s very rare to see policy announcements during a by-election. That’s because National was and is scared of Winston Peters. 3News political editor Patrick Gower sums it up best, “if National loses it will quite simply be the biggest embarrassment for him [John Key] since he took the Natonal leadership.”

Indeed the Northland electorate was National’s safest seat, being National since 1966, but it isn’t a pet electorate, like Epsom, and it does feel let down by the government. No roading upgrades in ten years, a soaring unemployment rate, trebling poverty, failing businesses and a dwindling population. Northland has had a guts full of this Auckland-obsessed government.

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At the end of the day even though Mark Osborne had the support of the senior National MP’s and John Key, they all let him down because they all stuffed up one way or another. Even near-by upper North Island National MP Shane Reti made the by-election result the way it was by being involved in bullying. Mr Reti told his own constituents to “shut up” and not speak about his electorate’s roading issues until after the Northland by-election.

Just this week popular investigative journalist Bryce Bruce, who has done productions for TVNZ and TV3 took to Facebook about bullying allegations for National MP’s. “Northlanders – Have you received a harassing call from National?
I have been contacted by a reader who says a number of people have been receiving phone calls from canvasser for National and feel harassed by them.
If you have received such a call please comment or PM me.
If you you don’t want to be harassed slam down the phone down.
If you can record one of these harassing calls so much the better,” he posted.

The claims were taken to Twitter by Insiders Editor Bennett Morgan and with luck the claims were legitimized further. New Zealand First MP Tracey Maritn kindly informed our editor that she had been approached last Sunday at the local markets. The bullied members of public told Maritn they were abused. Insiders attempted to contact National candidate Mark Osborne and campaign manager Steven Joyce about the allegations but both refused to comment.

So it’s rather clear. National were doomed in the Northland by-election from the start. As much as New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young wishes to blame Winston Peters’ win on the Labour Party, National stuffed up big time, and it’s time that he, and all National Party members for that matter wake up and realize this is not the way to treat an electorate and is why National took a thrashing in the Northland by-election.

Michael Riley

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