Brian Edwards Media

Ten Ways To Lose A By-Election Without Even Trying

Ballot box

  1. Assume, as you have always assumed, that voters who have tribally supported you in the past will automatically do so again now.
  2. On that assumption shamefully neglect the infrastructure and social needs of the electorate for years.
  3. Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate whom no-one has ever heard of on the basis that he or she can expect no real opposition from anyone else.
  4. Be totally unprepared for any real challenger to that candidate to emerge.
  5. Be totally unprepared for strategic voting by other parties.
  6. In the event of a high-profile, hugely charismatic, popular, extremely well-dressed and well-groomed opponent appearing from nowhere, panic.
  7. Insult the voters in the electorate by assuming that their votes can be bought with a humungous and patently transparent bribe, essentially consisting of all the infrastructure and social items you neglected to provide in the past.
  8. Insult the voters in the electorate further by assuming that all that is required to change their minds is the opportunity to catch sight of the Prime Minister in their electorate, presumably with the prospect of being able to kiss the hem of his garment. And possibly that of a couple of overweight cabinet ministers as well.
  9. Undermine the confidence of your remaining supporters by conceding publicly that you could well lose the seat
  10. Repeat 1 to 9.


  1. The first rule of explaining why National is losing this election is that you can’t talk about why National is losing this election.

    • Add another one to the list.
      11. Be utterly ignorant of what “whanau” means.

      The numpty National candidate made a big mistake playing the “he doesn’t belong here” card. The Peters clan is enormous and very well respected in Northland and I ain’t talking just cuzzies. Hundreds of Northlanders have benefitted from two of Winston’s brothers having been hugely respected headmasters. Winston has always been ours, a source of pride for the North no matter what one’s political stripe.

  2. Spot on BE.

  3. unfortunately, since the Sky conference centre rort recently and now the by-election fiasco,this is the beginning of the end for the Key Govt….hubris always gets ‘em in the end with that bullfrog, Steven Joyce leading the pack on that count…and I’m a Nat supporter…sigh !

  4. don’t let the candidate speak …
    don’t select the local favoured candidate so that weeks and weeks go by without billboards going up effectively

  5. Also publish everywhere the most ghastly candidate photo ever seen.

    I don’t quite agree about the neglect aspect recently. A lot more has gone into road infrastructure despite the economic pressures of the GFC and Chch earthquakes. But certainly for several decades there has been too much spent on welfare and too little on infrastructure in Northland which in the end only makes the problems worse.

    • Agree Alan, Northland needs to kick the welfare habit and get people working. That means the private sector must be held to account.

      Oh dear, here comes irony again……..

    • I lived for over 20 years in Northland and my then wife was a Public Health Nurse going out into the most undeveloped areas. We watched well-intentioned welfare reform programs come and go and none of them worked then, and I doubt they would now. The only glimmer back then was Dame Whina, but she passed on and her initiatives faded.
      One sad/humorous story from back then was when a small urchin came up to my building mates working on the Rawene primary School and asked them “Is this work?”
      Got any answers Alan?

      • 5.2.1

        Given Winston’s win I doubt anything can or will happen other than a few more handouts from the rest of the country to salve Winston’s need for political trophies.

        The problem is that most of the people here don’t want to change anything or do anything differently, they just want more money. They saw Winston as the most likely tap to turn that on.

        What I would like is the kind of reform that made our farmers efficient rather than Muldoon’s beneficiaries. But that will upset all kinds of power structures and ideologies that are holding the province in a straitjacket. It would take the strength and principles of a Roger Douglas to achieve it even if MMP could make it possible.

        Instead we will see continuing pork barrel politics from every party, feeding and supporting the very things that prevent change and keep Northland a poverty-stricken welfare-dependent ghetto. At best this Government will tinker around the edges of the problems, forced to sell them on the basis they won’t change anything rather than that they will be a huge improvement.

  6. All correct, but you forgot:
    Alienate your existing voter base and anyone undecided by making repeated intimidating and bullying phone calls threatening to pull the bribes if they lose

    • I did indeed forget that. However, that would have forced me to have an extra reason, making eleven. An untidy number.

  7. As a National supporter it is with regret I say you have got this one spot on.

    • 7.1

      But, I fear, you will continue to vote National.

      • 7.1.1

        Nothing to fear based in his well this country is doing under Key and his Government, in my view.


          Almost a hundred billion dollars in debt?



          Time to take of the Ray-bans dude. From my observation, the people of Northland do not consider that they are doing well. A comment by the deluded editor of the National Party NZ Herald made a similar comment. He said ” it’s hard to believe the regions such as Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Bay of Penty feel that they are missing out on the growth in the economy in recent years”. This comment from the Editor of the largest distributed News Paper in the country. And then he goes on to blame the Housing bubbles in Auckland and Christchurch. That editor is an embarrassment to NZ news. The blind leading the stupid as they say.

  8. “Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate…”

    I don’t think anyone has ever done any empirical research into the value of attractiveness to one’s political prospects in a New Zealand context. There must be a PhD in it, surely?

    There has, however been considerable research in the US, which sadly supports your thesis. I say sadly, because those of us immersed in the nuance of policy and communications would like to think that, if only we come up with the right combination of the two, we could get a modern-day Abe Lincoln elected.

    And sadly also because it leads to such pointless debate as to what degree Helen Clark’s billboards were airbrushed and the extent to which Key is losing his hair.

    We like to think we’re not as easily distracted by such things in NZ, so surely we can’t be as shallow as our US counterparts?! I’m itching to know.

    One US study* even linked voting –> attractiveness –> ancient adaptations for avoiding disease. The studies authors conclude “In fact, the preference for attractive politicians seems to ebb and flow with voters’ concerns about germs”(!!).

    Again, we like to think we’re made of sturdier, pioneering stuff in NZ, so I’d be fascinated to see if there was a correlation. If there is, given the health statistics for Northland, National doubly handicapped themselves in putting up a doughy, bland contender against the Cliff Richard of NZ politics.

    * See:

  9. “The Cliff Richard of New Zealand Politics.” He’d love that. I’ll pass it on to him.

  10. 10

    Looks like10/10 to me.

  11. Knock me down with a feather, another BE post I agree with.

    • Um, is that something you should be saying with tonight’s charity boxing bout with Jesse Ryder coming up?

      Good luck and well done on the fund raising.

      • Dropped like a sack of spuds from the back of a truck.

        • I notice you weren’t in the ring, you gutless coward.

          What is it with some folks that they are so mean-spirited they can’t see beyond their own ideological bigotry, and they often clothe themselves in self-righteous dudgeon when they do so?


            You mean like you do?


              It’s not “self-righteous dudgeon” when Kimbo does it.


                The difference is, John, Gypsum and you make your comments on the basis of Slater’s politics, whereas for me it is an irrelevancy.


                  Slater’s politics are only an irrelevancy to you because you agree with them, Kimbo. I don’t recall commenting on them.


              Like when, Lee?


              As loathesome as I find the politics and methods of Russel Norman (am I allowed to say that around here without Pavlov’s dogs barking in response), if he got in the ring for charity I would

              1. respect him for that decision
              2. would NOT engage in schadenfreude over the result.

              As you are unable to discern that, Lee, I guess that means we have differing moral compasses.


            Sorry, I was a bit lazy. Here’s the unabbreviated version:

            “Slater fakes with his left
            Now he’s going wide.
            Now he’s swinging to his…Oh! He took a hit..
            HE’S DOWN!
            RYDER’S CLOCKED HIM!
            RYDER’S CLOCKED HIM!
            THE MATCH IS OVER
            Dropped like a sack of spuds from the back of a truck.”


          Showed about as much resistance as a blancmange.

          But of a mismatch though against a pro sportsman.

          • Bit of an expert in what it takes, are we Lee.

            tell you what – I’ll freely donate my services as one of your cornermen if you want to give it a go next year, and show how much better an academic could do it.

            Should I have a towel at the ready to throw in from the opening bell? And what name would YOU prefer to fight under? “The falling snowflake from the Philosophy Department” gets my vote.


              I’m on the wrong side of 40 to box. I practised karate for a number of years when I was quite a bit younger, and fought competitively a few times (I think I have a medal somewhere). So it’s not like I haven’t been thumped in public before.

  12. I think Brian, unlike Key you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

  13. 13

    Glondice Blinkalot

    “Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate…”

    Seeing Mark Osborne on TV last night sweating bucketloads through his checked shirt, wasn’t a pretty sight.
    He looked unkempt, bug-eyed and flustered.

    • 13.1

      The guy is a weightlifter apparently so probably more fit than he appears. But a novice at being in front of a TV camera and presenting himself in the blazing heat of those lights – and it was anyway a very warm night in Northland, sleeping under a sheet only up here.

      Flustered – probably. His election campaign got run over by a bus for all the reasons Brian gave.

    • 13.2


      He’s on steroids – it’s to be expected!

  14. “Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate”. “…a doughy, bland contender…”

    Your post would have more credibility had you not stooped to using unkind personal jibes.

  15. Comments are closed until after 7pm, so we don’t fall foul of the Electoral Act.

  16. Back on the air.

  17. 17

    Surely the tipping point for the various practical voters of Northland was when John Key was unable to successfully put a nail into one of his party’s billboards. So the image of John Key was of someone impractical and incapable in all sorts of ways so very important to those in Northland.

  18. “I don’t think he’s got any chance of winning it,”
    The first three words sum up national’s campaign