Brash, Shipley and the rest of the Nats endorsed Connell in 2002
At Brian Connell's Rakaia electorate launch at the Rolleston Community Centre in 2002, former leader Jenny Shipley and then Reserve Bank governor Don Brash offered support. The National party faithful thought Brian Connell was so wonderful they gave him a standing ovation.
While the Nats are now desperately attempting to dismiss Connell as a "renegade", Connell is entirely a spectacle of their own making. They should have known. Connell was shooting his mouth off as a National candidate, BEFORE he was an MP.
On 25th of July 2002, a few months before he was elected in Rakaia, Brian Connell shared a platform with Jenny Shipley at a Grey Power Forum, where he attacked National leader Bill English's policy that asset and means testing should remain for people in rest home care. Asked if he supported the policy, Mr Connell said he did not. The Press article reports that Mr Connell made an undertaking that "if elected he would keep his disagreements behind closed doors and support the party line in public."
Wha ha haha ha ha ha :)
Matt Conway's Press article of the 3rd of August 2002 includes some gems.
"I'm not starting to just be an also-ran," Mr Connell said before predictably strolling to victory in Rakaia. I've got to have ambitions, first of all, to get into Cabinet and, on the basis of doing a good job there, who knows, but prime ministership certainly is in my sights."
In the same pre-election interview Connell fumbled when asked if Bill English was the right leader for National. "That's a tough question for a, a, a guy who's new to the game," he began. In response, then National party Canterbury-Westland regional chairman Bill Studholme wailed in despair at Connell's naivety, "Christ, I couldn't believe it". But despite the ominous signs emanating from their brand new carpetbagger, did the National party deselect him as a candidate. No.
The National party are also to blame for selecting him in the first place. At the time of his selection Brian Connell had lived in the Rakaia electorate for 12 months, and had been a "National party member for an even shorter amount of time" (Press, 9/4/02). No wonder Brian believes his membership of the National party is "absolutely irrelevant" when he conducts his duties or forms a view.
Matt Conway also reported,
"Mr Connell had earlier provided National's pre-selection panel with a spartan half-page "career summary" covering his 20-year career with mostly multinational companies. Omitted from the document were job titles, years of service, names of referees, and a significant number of the companies he had worked for, including Wrightsons."
According to then Party President Michelle Boag she "sat in on the pre-selection process herself and vouched for its integrity" (Press, 9/4/02, 'Rakaia seat rap rejected'). Her comments were in response to public complaints from prospective candidate Roger Payne that the pre-selection process had breached party rules. Mr Payne later stood for the Christian Heritage party. Even if Mr Payne is just another jilted blue ego with a blunt axe, it does suggest senior party honchos made it clear who they wanted to be the next Rakaia MP - Brian Connell.
Matt Conway also implies Brian Connell was Jenny Shipley's anointed successor. "Former prime minister Jenny Shipley decided to retire gracefully, but not before anointing her successor in the true-blue province."
So in 2002 the National party were all in chorus of "We want Brian". Now they are saying "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!". This does not wash. The National party need to take responsibility for putting an idiot into Parliament. An idiot who was unlikely to make a contribution to public life.