Clutha Southland decision
By Richard Harman (author)
Hong Kong investment banker Simon Flood will not contest the Clutha-Southland seat for National at the election.
Flood challenged retiring MP Todd Barclay for the nomination last December and had important backing from heavyweights from both within the aprty and the Queenstown community.
Among his supporters were former National cabinet Minister, Philip Burdon, Queenstown businessman, Sir Eoin Edgar and former Chief Press Secretary to Jim Bolger, Jim Burns.
But Flood’s credentials and his high-powered support would probably not have been enough to overcome the strong pro-Barclay mood within the party in the electorate.
That worried both senior aprty officials and some senior members of the Cabinet who thought his candidacy would prolong the bitter feud which has divided the electorate and which led to Barclay’s downfall.
Flood’s decision not to stand leaves the way clear for Auckland property manager Hamish Walker to take the nomination.
Walker (32) stood in Dunedin South in 2015, winning the party vote for National from Labour. He was second behind Dunedin South MP Clare Curran in the electorate vote.
In a statement sent to the ODT Mr Walker said he had been approached by a number of people who were aware of his campaign in Dunedin South and thought having an experienced campaigner was important because of the limited time.
He is believed to have the support of the electorate organisation who also strongly supported Barclay.
Whether this will mean the end of the divisions within the electorate remains to be seen.
Flood himself has moved back to New Zealand and friends say he intends to remain active in politics.
Emotions have run high within the electorate over the Barclay affair and the presence of his chief accuser, Glenys Dickson, at a Winston Peters rally in Gore has only stimulated more conspiracy theories.