GUEST BLOG: Ross Meurant – RUNNING MATES

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Ben Disraeli got it wrong when he said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

There are also, “Polls”.

This missive addresses issues which I reckon are critical for Labour to consider to ensure their poll lead translates into a second term.   A little history might help to elevate the prime factor in what I say.  Running mates.

I had a safe conservative rural Tory enclave: Hobson – up North where Winston and I went to school.  I ‘got’ the seat (I am sure) because of the profile I had as an inspector in the police and having been second in command of Red Squad.  

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Once in the Hallowed Halls of Power:

  • I survived allegations of being an Arms Dealer. *1
  • I survived being the catalyst for National to adopt Labour’s anti Nuke policy (Bolger, McKinnon and Birch were exceedingly hostile to this outrageous behaviour by a backbencher – but I was saved from the guillotine by Winston, Dennis Marshal and Kathy O’Regan and Maurice Williamson.)
  • I survived serious clashes with Mr. Bolger – confronting him on Holmes TV live on one occasion and another via Susan Wood when I condemned National for a blatant breach of pre-election promise pertaining to eligibility to the geriatric pension I now claim. (I have the TV clips of these events.)
  • I survived saying, ‘No’, to Winston when he asked me to leave the fold with him at the time he walked from National and ran as an independent for Tauranga (later he formed NZ First after MMP was invented) but I was still identified by Bolger and Co as a “Winston conspirator”.
  • I survived foolishly divorcing a loyal Remuera girl for a woman who rode horse to hounds with me.  This went down like a lead balloon in my electorate. This horse woman latter emerged as the cause of the Scampi Affair.

 

MMP came in during my third term as a National MP.

MMP arrived when I was a Member of The Executive: Under Secretary Agriculture & Forestry and Cabinet Committee Commerce and Industry AND still on the Fisheries Select Committee.

  • I have no doubt that I was given Executive rank of the lowest level akin to Second Lieutenant, as an incentive to reign me in and be subject to the “Collective Responsibility” which binds Cabinet Minister to follow the Boss and not their conscience or intellectual evaluation of bad ideas emanating from the top table.

Anyway.  As I was saying.  

MMP comes in.  I go to Mr. Bolger and say, ‘Where am I on the List, Prime Minister because my seat has evaporated under the new MMP boundaries.”  Uncle Jim had a grin as wide as the Northern Wairoa river when he said: “You will be so far down the list you kiss your arse goodbye.”  Or words to that effect.

I had a mathematician on my Hobson executive.  Merv! He did the sums and he calculated that no party would ever again win government in its own right.  Therefore a running mate was essential.

Got that?  No Party would ever again win government in its own right.

Time has vindicated the perspicacity of this dairy farmer aka a mathematics genius – but there was one gap.  

On the strength of Merv’s calibrations, Murray McCully (who was also from Dargaville) and Maurice Williamson (whom I dislike more than I dislike Murray), at an Auckland Party Conference, supported my contention that National needed a List Party and an Electorate Party – to reap the best advantage from MMP and obviate the need for a foreign running mate.  This was the only solution or ‘gap’ in the formula.

Nope.  The top table didn’t want to know.

Facing oblivion (at the bottom of Bolger’s List) but based on Merv’s theory, I formed the first political party to be registered under MMP.  

The executive had blokes from the Meat Board and the Wool Board and even had a bloke from Kings College on board.  Several former National MPs who had lost their seats in 1993, came on board as potential candidates. The Party was decided National empathetic: foreign but a running mate.  

Right of Centre party entered into the first coalition agreement under the pending MMP environment. See attachment.  RoC’s support on confidence matters was essential to the survival of National – at that point in time.

Named Right of Center, this reflected my economic philosophy (I had become a disciple of Roger Douglas even though my social values were liberal and left of centre.)  

However, Mr. Bolger and his cadre of Birch and McKinnon rejected to opportunity to develop this party to accommodate the mathematical inevitability as predicated by Merv.  

This rejection may well have been contempt for me but I suspect this trio were simply too stupid to have absorbed the maths lesson served up by a Northland dairy farmer.

Note: Later National had to do a deal with Act and gave Richard Prebble Wellington Central for the second political party to be registered under MMP- ACT, to become National’s running mate.

Later, the United Party was formed and RoC was no longer essential to National’s survival but it wasn’t until I took a position as a director on the board of an off shore Russian bank, that Mr. Bolger fired me from the Executive.  I had declined the request to resign from the bank, because by this stage I knew RoC was not going to make it – and I was looking toward a life after politics.

 

  • The ROC party later adopted Conservatives as its name but this was at a point where, I had lost control of the economic direction the party had been formed to follow (the farmers on the board wanted a new version of Muldoonism), so I elected to step aside.  I ran as an Independent and oblivion but I was true to my principles- i.e. I am not a conservative.

 

The point of this trawl through history is to emphasis how perilous is the path of political posterity and to justify the following prediction:

  • Unless National embrace a running mate to go into the next election, they are dead in the water.
  • Labour, which has in every election since the advent of MMP, had a natural running mate e.g. Alliance, New Labour, Greens – needs to be most wary that the only survivor of this bunch i.e. Greens, is in serious jeopardy.
  • Which brings us to NZ First?  

Like him or loath him, Winston is the greatest political survivor since Winston Churchill.

So much for the polls.

Cheers.

 

*1 Arms Dealer allegations emerged in my first year as an MP.  Already under fierce attack from Labour but more so The Media (whom I had described in my first TV appearance as an MP as, “Pimply faced boys and girls barely past puberty” – Richard Harman was the interviewer), for Red Squad, I was also being accused of orchestrating the sale of some 6,000 SLR army surplus weapons – to South Africa!

The facts of that case are:  I was approached by an Amy Officer with whom I had a former professional relationship via a commissioned officers “club” who said that the army could not sell its surplus rifles and that a former NZ Army  commissioned officer -(formerly from Dargaville  being a place on the map hitherto unknown) and at the time a senior officer in a Middle East army, wanted to buy the guns.  Would I encourage National to support the sale?

There is more to this saga than I reproduce here, but if anyone thought my life had been simply staring down sawn-off shot guns as a commissioned officer of police, they got that wrong. 

All this intrigue was about to come out in the media via a NZ Army major who, assigned to assess the case I put to Mr. Bolger, pillow talked to his mistress who happened to be a journalist.  

I beat her to the Scoop, and via the Herald, pre-empted her story of the year.  But it didn’t help much because I was for several years (and in some cases I still am) suspected as an “Arms Dealer” (which is utter crap).

Gee whizz.  One day I must write a book.

 

Ross is an international businessman and entrepreneur. In 2016 Ross was appointed Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Morocco. In New Zealand he is trustee and managing director of absentee Russian owned forestry and commercial property.

Ross has a bachelor degree in politics and management, a master’s degree in economics, statistics, law and policy and C.O.P’s in law.

From 2004 he lived and worked in Zimbabwe, Russia, Czech Republic, Thailand and the Balkans.

Since 2005 Ross has established business interests in aqua culture and fisheries development – from Morocco to Syria: U.A.E and North Korea.

In 2015 Ross was prime speaker on sustainable fisheries as guest of the Moroccan government at CRANZ Montana ‘Sustainable Resources: Africa’ conference, and an official guest at the 2017 forum.

A former Member of Parliament (1987–1996) and Member and the Executive Council of New Zealand in the National government, Ross was Under Secretary (junior minister) Agriculture & Forestry; Cabinet Committee Industry & Commerce & Chair Select Committee Fisheries.

Subsequent to parliament, he owned equestrian facilities; was elected to local government as a councilor; consulted to several major fishing companies, was engaged by parliamentary services as adviser to Rt. Hon Winston Peters and emerged as a key figure in the Scampi Affair, which falsely alleged political corruption.

Prior to entering parliament, Ross had been 21 years in the police.  Service included: detective on Regional Crime Squad and Drug Squad; 5 years Armed Offenders Squad, second in command of the infamous Red Squad, and commissioned officer in charge of police spies i.e. Criminal Intelligence Section and V.I.P. Security.

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Not necessarily… they just need for NZ First and the Greens to go under, and watch the Wage Slave Labour Party continue importing tens of thousands of foreign (resident) voters… tick, tock…. 😉

  2. That was an informative history and insight, Ross,… thank you for that.

    Hey , – I ended up in the Patu section during ’81 ! We were room mates and didn’t even know it ! Second sometimes 3-4th row from the front. But I dodged all the Minto bars coming my way 🙂

    But I didn’t like what I saw happening on both sides in the end. Similar to a civil war, Kiwi against Kiwi. It wasn’t fun. Still get a little teary eyed and sentimental seeing old footage…

    Sorry John , much respect to you and just kidding ! You need to do a few write ups ! Haven’t seen you lately!

    But it is like that Ross, no party stands alone.Not now , not with MMP…

    And that’s a good thing. People misunderstand when I rail against the woke left, which to me is the fake left, the neo liberal left front. The land of the Identity politics natives… I support the Greens still as I do Labour, but you are right in this :

    … ‘ Like him or loath him, Winston is the greatest political survivor since Winston Churchill ‘….

    Which is why I wrote about the woke left. Their identity politics is toxic to the Greens, they overshadow the very good people they do have and deny them the ability to shine. I consider the woke left to be the fifth columnists in service of the far right neo liberals. Rogernomes with ‘flowers in their hair’ so to speak…

    I gave my party vote to the Greens last election because they were struggling to pass the line. Due to various acts of self sabotage and that most odious of afflictions, political correctness, and the fact NZ First are now the ones slightly behind…my vote is going to NZ First , party vote.
    But its still a ways to go yet.

    I’m finding I naturally veer more towards NZ First than the others, though with a fair smattering of Greens and Labour… I’m happy enough with the coalition. It is what it is… a coalition,… and that means a fair bit of compromise from all sides.

    But again , it is interesting to know and recall those experiences you had… I think you should write a book.

    So many insights and perspectives of national importance could be gleaned from it. Particularly for a newer generation.

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