Wednesday, August 17, 2022

McAnulty hasn't put a foot wrong ... so far

I have observed Kieran McAnulty’s career with some interest. He’s my local MP, after all.

I’ve never met him, so I know only what I’ve read. (This is a legitimate basis on which to judge politicians, since it’s how the vast majority of voters must form their opinions.)

In his first term in Parliament, from 2017, McAnulty earned a reputation as a rising star in the Labour Party firmament. He’s now much more than that, having been appointed the government’s chief whip in 2020 and more recently made a minister outside cabinet. He’s on the up, in other words.

In my eyes he attained a new level of political credibility when the people of the Wairarapa chose him as their MP. Previously he got into Parliament by virtue of his place on the Labour list, which is no substitute for the endorsement of real voters. But he earned his place in the House by being hard-working and highly visible, first as a candidate and subsequently as an MP. He has positioned himself as a battler for the Wairarapa and always seems to ensure his name is mentioned when positive things happen in the electorate.  

What makes McAnulty an interesting politician is that he has adroitly cultivated an image as a traditional Kiwi bloke in a party that doesn’t generally have much time for blokedom. In that respect he displays similar characteristics to the late Mike Moore and to Shane Jones (the latter a Labour cabinet minister before deducing he had more of a future with New Zealand First).

McAnulty forms a useful bridge between urban Labour and the provincial heartland, much of which switched its support from National to Labour in 2020 and will be crucial in determining the outcome of the next election. His previous occupation (a bookmaker for the TAB) and his celebrated 1997 Mazda ute, which he used to great effect as a political prop, fed into his image as an unconventional Labour MP and something of a hard case.

Along the way he appears to have established a close rapport with the prime minister, who happens to share his provincial background. I don’t think any of this happened by chance. McAnulty’s blokey persona serves him well, but underneath it I’ve no doubt he’s an ambitious, calculating politician. Neither do I doubt that if it came to the crunch, he would defer to the woke and Maori factions in the Labour caucus, because that’s where power resides.  

Nonetheless, it could be said that the MP for Wairarapa hasn’t put a foot wrong … so far. But neither has he really been tested, and that may soon change. He now risks being collateral damage in the furore over renegade MP Gaurav Sharma, who alleges he was badly treated by the Labour whips. That implicates McAnulty, since he was chief whip for most of the period Sharma has complained about. Certainly he's in the political spotlight in a way he hasn't experienced before, and not in a good way.

Voters could be excused for wondering whether, under the surface bonhomie, McAnulty is a bit of a bully. After all, that’s what being a party whip requires, as Chris Trotter reminds us in a superb piece on the Bassett, Brash and Hide website.

Meanwhile I’m aware of potentially damaging information about McAnulty circulating on social media. His best hope is that the mainstream media will dismiss it as mischievous gossip – but as the Sam Uffindell saga reminds us, in the toxic political environment of 2022 there are no guarantees that embarrassing secrets will stay secret. Only those who are as pure as the driven snow – in other words, probably no one – can be assured of untroubled sleep.








R Singers said...

When we implemented MMP we made a fundamental error in allowing anything other than natural persons to be members of political parties. The corrupt anachronism that is Labour would have been replaced by several issue parties and we would have true minority governments, and people like McAnulty would be able to make the world better for their constituents.

Instead we've only once had the real benefit of MMP, and subsequently we proved that even MMP can't stop the election of a popular demagogue.

Zoroforever said...

He once declared in the House that he's a Socialist...says it all I guess.
Never trust a Socialist.

Anonymous said...

I suppose his ex wife may have more insight in to his character. Normally I would say meh to that as exs can have little good to say due to the nature of break ups.

But the Uffindell saga shows character is a hundred percent on the table, so McAnultys character should be fair game....

Richard said...

Given the Uffindell witch-hunt, perhaps some media tyro might want to speak to some of Kieran's previous fellow workers at the TAB, as to his potential as a bully.
Or not.

Anonymous said...

Indeed...and if the published comments about his marital breakdown are half correct...its a damning indictment of character.
Personally...given what we have seen over Arderns duplicity...I believe Sharma.
Ps Im not a National supporter!

Odysseus said...

You don't doubt "he would defer to the woke and Maori factions in caucus, because that's where the power lies." Look no further. Two months ago McAnulty was appointed Associate Minister of Local Government with the task of selling Labour's extremely contentious Three Waters project to the country bumpkins in the provinces. No doubt the Party hierarchy cynically calculated McAnulty's blokey persona would be a major asset in promoting the confiscation of community-owned assets and their handing over to tribal control, and it appears he was eager not to disappoint.

Happily the intellectual underpinnings of this race-based power grab have been set out in a report by the Ministry of Justice on the Water Services Entities Bill:

The Ministry of Justice says, while the bill grants "differential treatment to Maori", it is not discriminatory because it reflects, "the status of Maori as kaitiaki of land and natural resources in the respective rohe". The Ministry also says the bill is not designed to "provide specific advantage to Maori, but rather to achieve equity among New Zealand's population groups". So according to this powerful State agency, we are no longer New Zealanders but Maori and other "population groups".

As a constituent Karl perhaps you would might find an opportunity to ask the Associate Minister if he believes this dystopian nonsense, or is simply demonstrating the flexibility expected of Socialist apparatchiks on the up?

Don Franks said...

On the evidence available I'm inclined to believe Dr Sharma

Trev1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Karl du Fresne said...

Readers will note that I deleted the comment above. In the interests of transparency, I'm happy to reveal that it was from the reader who calls himself Trev1. Trev1 appears to have been put out because I haven't said what he thinks I should have said about the Sharma affair. He went on to speculate that "they" have got to me. FFS. Whoever "they" are, how does Trev1 think "they" could have got to me?
Here's the thing: I write what I write. Sometimes people will agree and sometimes they won't. I have no obligation to say what some readers think I should say and if people disagree with me, they have the simple option of no longer following this blog.
I'm certainly not answerable to people who snipe at me from the safety of anonymity. If Trev1 wants to submit a comment under his real name, I'd be happy to publish it.

Steve said...

Well said regarding Trev1 Karl.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased that you write what you write KdF because, I like and value what you write.
Trev probably not so much . . .

Trev1 said...

Dear Karl, first let me say how much I look forward to and enjoy your columns. I apologize if I appeared to "snipe", written communication without adequate inflection can sometimes seem toxic.

I believe I suggested in the offending comment that your column on McAnulty could do with updating in the light of further developments. I also noted that Uffindell's alleged juvenile delinquency had furnished you with three columns (including where you had drawn some pretty broad conclusions about the National Party, of which I am not a member). I implied it was perhaps time to even up the score.

I don't see Dr Sharma as a "renegade" but rather as a whistleblower. It is good to see that on the basis of his revelations the Chief Ombudsman has written to the Prime Minister with a "please explain" about Labour's alleged coaching of new MPs on how to evade the government's responsibilities under the Official Information Act.

Lately I have become very concerned at the pressure being applied through the media on people who hold "anti-government" views on certain issues (I hasten to add here I am not anti-VAXX nor am I associated with any such groups). I believe strongly in freedom of conscience and freedom of expression as the bedrock of democracy and I am alarmed when they appear to be subject to a relentless, well funded and hostile campaign.

Best Wishes
Trevor Hughes (alias Trev1)

Karl du Fresne said...

Cheers Trevor. The fact that I wrote three times about Uffindell and only once about Sharma and McAnulty shouldn't be taken as implying that dirty politics isn't rampant in the latter instance. And I very much agree with you about the media witch hunt against council candidates who are perceived to have sinned ideologically.