So a week ago, the rumours were circulating that Andrew Williams was to be demoted from number 3 on the NZ First list to number 13, to which I wrote a post entitled “Winston Peters & the NZ First list : “Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever“. Essentially, I was wondering what on earth Mr Williams had done to raise such ire from his party leader, the Great Demagogue, that he would be abruptly dumped from second in command to an unwinnable spot. The last part of the Biblical quote (“thou hast put out their name for ever and ever”) may have been a little exaggerated; after all, Mr Williams was still on the party list.
It was, therefore, a little of a surprise to yesterday find that Mr Williams was now no longer on the list at all. Was he pushed or did he jump? The answer seemed to come from Winston Peters:
“The consequences of not understanding the needs of the party and caucus are huge and they cannot be avoided. When you enter an arrangement to keep it confidential so that it has got some integrity about it, you’re expected to stick to it.”
So there you have it. Andrew Williams – by telling media that his low ranking was due to deputy leader Tracey Martin being out to get him – broke ranks, breached party confidentiality, and was expunged from the list. It may have taken an additional week since my initial post, but his name has now been put out for ever and ever. Winston has spoken.
Of course, Mr Williams wasn’t the only one breaking ranks, although Asenati Lole-Taylor left it till after the list had been published to go public with her concerns. She featured on 3News last night, questioning whether her demotion was due to her Pacific Island accent. Methinks it had rather more to do with her endless succession of bad headlines – asking Government ministers about blow jobs during question time, her incessant Twitter feuds which involved her blocking three quarters of the media, her claim that the Reserve Bank was run by overseas bankers etc. But it could have been worse for her. The leaks from NZ First initially had her at number 17 on the list; with Mr Williams’ disappearance, she moves up one place to number 16!
The news wasn’t excellent either for Denis O’Rourke. At number seven on the list, he’s been leap-frogged by two newcomers – Fletcher Tabuteau (head of Waiariki Institute of Technology’s business school) and Clayton Mitchell (a Tauranga city councillor). It’s perhaps an indication to Mr O’Rourke that his negative headlines this year have outweighed his positive headlines, with allegations that he’d hired his partner (resulting in the bizarre statement that he and his tenant were “deliberately not partners”) and claims that he’d fabricated online business testimonials. If NZ First only just scrapes in with 5%, O’Rourke will be out.
It’s good to see a minor party achieving some rejuvenation through its party list, but when Clayton Mitchell immediately makes headlines for declaring that, if elected, he would continue to be paid as a city councillor in addition to his MPs salary, you do have to wonder whether NZ First is on the cusp of electing another Claudette Hauiti.