Was He pushed, or did He Jump?
The Whisper 6
Das Flustern # 6 (The Whisper)
- a political satire
Was He pushed, or did He Jump?
The Whisper was surprised to read of Sir Roger’s retirement from the President’s role, and even more surprised that everybody in the ACT establishment apparently knew about it before it was announced. Call it a girl’s intuition, but it all sounded too good to be true. Time to hit the phones and get to the truth. And well well well, what a wicked web we weave when we practice to deceive!
Sources say that our redoubtable Knight was in two minds about his retirement right up until the last minute. He faced two options - a less august role like that of the Vice President, or another purpose made one. One problem loomed. If our warrior knight went for the Vice then he might face off against the irrepressible Rodney Hide who is the member’s favourite. Could he, would he win? On reflection he plumped for the purpose made role as proposed by Stephen Franks. For it seems that Sir Roger and Rodney had a gentlemen’s agreement that they would both go together if they stood down.
Wanting to avoid a fight, Sir Roger’s only hope to maintain control of the ACT Board is through "the Pinochet Provision" as drafted by Mr Franks (who himself owes a favour or two to Sir Roger). To be fair to our errant knight, he’s not that fussed on a senator for life clause, having rejected one in the past. However, needs must and his guiding hand must stay on the ACT tiller or heaven knows what Richard Prebble will get up to.
Some more mundane factors came into consideration. Under knightly stewardship membership has plummeted mainly because as the Whisper has said previously, running organisations doesn’t interest Sir Roger. It also evidences his conviction that the Party has gone astray. A simpler explanation is that one has more opportunity to join the Masons than ACT. Even more pressing is the matter of Party finances, or lack thereof. Centre-right political funders are rumoured to be withholding funding that would otherwise flow to ACT while Sir Roger remains at the helm. They have concluded that however sympathetic, even nostalgic they privately might be to his views, his public comments only damage ACT and the chances of a change of government. This lack of funding has caused ACT CEO Bruce Howat (the Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways) to report a financial crisis if the dosh doesn’t start flowing.
Our old warrior knight is also grumpy and tired of hunting down furtive populists that still lurk in the ACT ranks. Frequent inquisitions have brought him little joy and certainly not build a Party base committed to removing the Party Leader. He lacks a clear successor with Shirley not being a serious option and Franks not yet ready (if ever)
All in all things aren’t good in the ACT ship and so it was time for the captain to split. But far from acting like Captain Lawrence Oates (who in the face of ruin stepped out of the tent for a moment), Sir Roger had other intentions. His M.O - keep the power that goes with being in the Board to reward and punish but avoid all responsibility for the exercise of that power. Reluctant solution: "the Pinochet Provision". The problem with El Presidente’s solution is that such a clause goes against the grain for even his most ardent supporters and is out-of-place in a modern democratic organisation.
The King is Dead. Long Live the Queen?
Not even warm in the political grave and Sir Roger’s ghost haunts the race to replace him as president. Wellington contender and paid fibber (PR consultant) Catherine Judd faces off against Hawkes Bay Farmer, first five shipper and closet populist John Ormond. Ormond is a long time member and is well known in ACT circles. His unsuccessful but respectable run against Sir Roger rocked the old knight last time and turned his stomach against such a fight this time. Ormond has Party cred and has an engaging personality. This girl likes the look of John and predicted a bright future for him in a previous edition.
The Whisper also liked the look of the other contender Catherine Judd and so was eager to find out a little more about her. Nothing to report other than a few ACT training sessions for the last election. She secretly brushed up Sir Roger’s now infamous $10,000 Presidential Report that came out, coincidentally just before the last board elections. Members of ACT who bothered to read the latest ACT Now would have found many of the more Maoist passages regurgitated in his Presidential column. The Whisper’s diggings have reported no real party involvement by Ms Judd in any local committee, or having attended any public meetings. It is also rumoured that she only recently became an ACT member, although she professes "to have been a long time supporter of ACT ideas". Bully for her. Where she stands on more in-depth issues, such as "the Pinochet Provision", God only knows, although if she is endorsed by Roger, then she is probably sympathetic to Mr Franks’ proposal.
The Whisper has learnt that Mr Franks is also a close holiday friend of Ms Judd, their families having spent much time together on holiday over the last 6 weeks. Curious indeed. Franks has also emerged as her biggest cheerleader, and aspires to the role of Queenmaker, much to alarm of some in caucus.
Some further developments have also come to light about Ms Judd's unexpected tilt for the presidency. It turns out that her campaign for election is tarred with the brush of a couple of Roger's old mandarins - Brian Nicholle and Priscilla Tate! Nicholle and Tate were the party organisers for the years between 1994-2000 and left their positions given the disappointing 1999 election results. An email circulated by the Head Office on behalf of Judd contains a fax number (09) 445 1101, belonging to a Ms Tate of Takapuna. Nicholle is currently in the employment of Ms Judd. The Whisper cheekily comments "Let's nominate Tate and Nicholle for an award at the next conference - the Brut 33 award for hanging around like a bad smell!"
www.catherinejuddforact.co.nz? What on earth would this be used for?
Also of interest is Ms Judd's planned website - which the Whisper stumbled across after discovering her email address, mentioned in the above email broadcast by Head Office. The site was barren, empty and not working when the Whisper last looked, which seems to sum up Roger's strategy in a nutshell.
North Auckland/Northland Region : Alex Wong from Epsom versus Michael Crozier from North Shore versus Frank Newman from Whangarei. The battle is between Wong and Crozier, with Wong being a gun nut and Crozier a rocket scientist. Both seem to be a explosive choice, with this race being too close to call.
Auckland : Angus Ogilvie (incumbent) versus John Thompson (Manurewa) versus Gordon Legge (Unknown). Ogilvie is likely to win comfortably.
Waikato: Andy Davies (unopposed) will be an excellent addition, he is rumoured to have been a very good candidate for ACT in the past. He should be destined for Parliament at the next election.
Central: Rick Vallance (incumbent) versus Rex Graham (unknown). Vallance should walk in.
Wellington: Tomas Kriha (incumbent) versus Duncan Roy (husband of Heather, #11 on the 99 list). A close race, but Kriha should hold given his performance and reputation to date.
Upper South: Cathy Sanders (Ilam) versus Andy Power( Rakaia) versus Graeme Hewitt (Kaikoura). Sanders is a new member to the party and is therefore out of her depth. Power is a bit of an unknown also, with Hewitt being the most high profile. However, the Whisper is a bit unsure of Mr Hewitt, given his abruptness at receiving the Whisper Number 1. The Whisper is unfamiliar with the language used by Mr Hewitt in his previous communication.
Deep South: Frances Denz (incumbent) versus Roly Henderson (Dunedin). This is the second time the two have paired off against each other. The Whisper is unabashedly supporting Mr Henderson, because the Whisper imagines that he would look better in a dress than the incumbent.
Fond farewells to the beautiful but tragic
The Whisper notes that both Derek Rankin and Garry Mallett (both first term board members) have declined to accept nomination, and are retiring at the end of their term. The Whisper’s impression of both these gentlemen is that they were good people, but both are rumoured to be leaving because of their private alarm at the state of the party, and the conduct of board meetings with Sir Roger at the helm. Nigel Mattison is also leaving from Christchurch, to pursue business opportunities. Auvoir my darlings, don’t lose the faith!
The Whisper signs off with another movie quote, this time from Hawkeye Pierce in the satirical masterpiece M*A*S*H :
"Look, I know how tough it is for you to say goodbye, so I’ll say it. Maybe you're right, maybe we WILL see each other again, but just in case we don't, I want you to know how much you've meant to me. I'll never be able to shake you; whenever I see a big pair of feet or a cheesy mustache, I'll think of you."