Key figure in Barclay affair undecided whether to stand for Clutha-Southland
By Richard Harman (author)
One of the key figures in the Todd Barclay affair is still to decide whether to nominate for the Clutha-Southland seat.
National’s Clutha-Southland electorate nominations open today.
However, Hong Kong- based investment banker Simon Flood told POLITIK last night he was still undecided about whether to stand but expected to make a decision later in the week.
Flood is at the centre of the rifts and splits which divide the electorate because he challenged the now retiring MP Todd Barclay last December.
That move further divided an already-divided electorate which had originally split over the relationship between the MP and his Gore electorate agent, Glenys Dickson, who says she was illegally and secretly taped by Barclay.
Flood’s challenge was seen by Barclay’s supporters as being part of Dickson’s campaign against the MP.
Flood’s supporters, in turn, made a series of allegations about improprieties in the selection process which were investigated by the party's Rules Committee which found the process had been conducted properly.
Flood has been canvassing views within the electorate and among National Party heavyweights.
His caution last night suggests he may be meeting some resistance from within the party and caucus to his standing in the wake of Barclay's forced retirement.
But on the other hand he already seems to have some big names behind him.
POLITIK has spoken to a former National Cabinet Minister and a former Chief Press Secretary to a National Leader who are backing him.
Rich-lister Sir Eoin Edgar is also said to be behind him though he has denied that to the right-wing blogger “Whaleoil”.
“Whaleoil” has published an email he says is from Edgar asking his contacts in Queenstown to join the National Party by 5.00 p.m. last Friday so they could help elect delegates to the final selection meeting.
Obviously, based on last December’s selection, Flood was behind on numbers on the night.
So any move by Edgard to recruit members could be seen as a move to boost Flood.
There is still strong opposition to him from some sections within the electorate, and he has opponents within the caucus and the Cabinet and the party organisation where his candidacy would be seen by some as disruptive and likely to perpetuate the existing rifts in the party in the electorate.
Flood's problem may be that he is getting more support from outside the party than from among the party membership in the electorate who are said to still oppose him because of his challenge last year.
That challenge was also opposed by a number of MPs including Ministers Judith Collins and Jonathan Coleman.
So far only one name has been confirmed as going for the nomination; former Auckland property management executive, Hamish Walker, who stood for National in Dunedin South at the last election.
Other names being mentioned are Mark Wilson, a Queenstown marketing consultant and chair of the Wakatipu branch of the party, Nicky Davis, the deputy mayor of Gore and Vanessa van Uden, the former Mayor of Queenstown.
Flood was originally from Christchurch where he was involved in the National Party’s Fendalton electorate, but his recent career has been in Singapore and Hong Kong in investment banking. Most recently he has been head of Axa Investment Managers in Hong Kong, but before that he held a number of senior investment roles in the asset management industry, covering both the listed, developed and emerging, as well as private, equity markets. He has held a number of senior regional positions including leading the Asia Pacific business for Merrill Lynch Investment Managers. He spent 15 years in London, followed by five years in Hong Kong before moving to Singapore in 2009.