Following NZ First’s rule change allowing the party to fine its MPs $300,000 if they left the party but remained in Parliament, Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish published his mock “ten other NZ First party rules you probably don’t know about“, including such gems as:
If Winston shall bring an accusation against a New Zealand First MP, the accused shall go to the river and leap into the river; and if he sinks in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house, his wife, his son, his daughters, and all of his cattle. But if the river proves that the accused is not guilty, then again shall the accused jump into the river, this time with a large concrete block tied unto him.
If any person shall steal Winston’s limelight, they shall be put to death.
Andrew Williams may be pondering just what he did to get on Winston Peters’ bad side, with Stuff being leaked the news that Andrew Williams will be ranked number 13 in the NZ First list. That’s a slide of ten places from his number 3 ranking in 2011, and it will likely see him dumped as an MP.
Apparently, there’s worse news for Asenati Lole-Taylor. Andrea Vance confirms on Twitter that she’s been told Lole-Taylor will slide to a definitely unwinnable number 17, well down on her 8th place in the 2011 list.
Lole-Taylor’s demotion would be eminently understandable. Her ability to generate a headline has only ever incurred embarrassment for NZ First during her three years in Parliament. The party would be well shot of her.
However, Andrew Williams has, somewhat surprisingly, been a relatively industrious MP. Following his stint as North Shore Mayor, and the allegations of public urination, drink driving and crazed late-night text messages to the Prime Minister, his first term as a NZ First MP was expected to be one of comic gold. Many were rather disappointed when he kept his head down, leaving the insanity to Lole-Taylor and Richard Prosser (who will apparently take spot number 3 on the list).
Mr Williams certainly seems surprised. The Stuff article states:
Williams said his ranking on the list came as “a bolt out of the blue”.
“I think most people would agree around Parliament I’ve been a pretty able MP,” he said.
“I’ve performed for the party, I’ve done a lot of hard work for the party and I’ve represented the party as well as I could.”
The ranking was no reflection of his ability or contribution, but attributable to internal party politics, Williams said.
Williams would like to know what the selection committee’s criteria were for selecting the top ten candidates. That’s a question answered by David Farrar at Kiwiblog:
Have spoken to someone close to NZ First and they say that the sole criteria for list ranking is total devotion and loyalty to Winston, so in that context the list makes sense!
Perhaps others with rather more of a finger on the pulse of NZ First gossip will know what Andrew Williams has done to so upset Mr Peters. It’s a mystery to me…
On the return though is former NZ First MP, Ron Mark, who Stuff understands will be ranked number 9. NZ First needs slightly more than they got in 2011 to get him in, which is certainly possible. The stench of sleaze surrounding the ninth floor of the Beehive may end up driving some voters from National to NZ First. Whether Dirty Politics will have the positive effect on NZ First that the Teapot Tapes had last election remains to be seen though.
Is it succession time for NZ First? Tracey Martin has certainly been a more than capable Deputy Leader (once the party finally got around to choosing one), but (Prosser- and Lole-Taylor- generated headlines aside) NZ First still remains The Winston Show to the public. Ron Mark still has public recognition, and having been mayor of Carterton since 2010, he’s shown he’s still electable.
Whether it’s Ron Mark or not, Winston Peters surely doesn’t have too many years as a Parliamentarian ahead of him (assuming his party makes the 5% threshold this election). The last thing he will want is for his party to fold as he leaves. Someone needs to be groomed for the leadership. And on that note, Shane Jones can’t be flitting round the Pacific forever…