Hard News by Russell Brown


The Ides of Epsom

I doubt we'll see a anything so gauche as a cup of tea being had, but it took only about 20 seconds of Saturday's panel discussion on The Nation to establish that the National and Act parties once again have an arrangement to channel votes to an Act candidate in the Epsom electorate.

Host Lisa Owen explained that National's candidate, international man of mystery Paul Goldsmith, had declined to appear on the candidate panel because he was "concentrating on the party vote". He apparently couldn't make up a better story, which is presumably why he writes biography rather than fiction.

There followed a series of awkward exchanges in which Act's David Seymour worked through a series of mostly irrelevant answers he'd prepared earlier, but if anything indicated how local and parochial his campaign is really going to be it was his unprompted offering, around the 10 minute mark, that "the people of Epsom" ...

... do not want to have their neighbourhoods intensified with eight-storey towers next to their homes and the kind of rates corruption that they get from Len Brown ...

The Greens' Julie Anne Genter interjected to point out that Act was the party of oppositon to regulation and Seymour responded:

What I'm arguing is that the people of Epsom have bought into certain property rights and the character of their community ...

So, if you were unclear, Act regards the Resource Management Act as a blight on freedom, property rights and productivity and would happily lay waste to the RMA and all regulations of its ilk -- except where they protect the interests of wealthy people who may vote Act.

We've seen this particular kind of wild ideological dissonance before, of course, in the strident opposition to Auckland's Unitary Plan from the likes of Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer. And I don't think that's a coincidence. It's a real shame that first Genter then Owen stopped Seymour before he could really get rolling, because he was promising to dig himself an awesomely large hole with the bit about Len Brown's "rates corruption".

But I think we heard enough to confirm that the fix is in in Epsom and that while Goldsmith ghosts around not even really pretending to be an electorate candidate, Seymour will say whatever he thinks will get Epsom voters to vote for him, and he will have both the rhetoric and the grey battalions of the Auckland centre-right with him.

So yes, Aucklanders, I'm saying that with Semour having basically announced that he'll be running as the oppostion to Len Brown, the Epsom campaign might look a bit like the mayoral campaign. And yes, I know there's quite a bit of irony there given the present (until Friday) MP's criminal situation. Just try and enjoy it for what it is, okay?

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