Saturday, 31 May 2008

Benson-Pope looks for a lifeline

Sitting Dunedin South MP, David Benson-Pope, is stoking the fires of speculation over his intentions in this year's General Election.

Benson-Pope has held the blood-red seat since 1999, taking over from Michael Cullen. However he was dumped by the Labour Party as their candidate for the seat this year, after a controversial meeting in February.

DBP's de-selection followed a long run of embarrassing sagas for the Labour Party, including Tennis-gate, Nightie-gate, Panty-gate, and Setchell-gate.

He was replaced by Head Office choice, "popular and competent" PR woman, Clare Curran (aka "David Parker's right hand woman"). (EPMU president Don Pryde - now Labour's Clutha-Southland candidate - and PSA organiser Keith McFadyen also stood for the Dunedin South selection).
The MP managed to get some revenge on the party, with his supporters mounting a virtual coup of the South Dunedin branch shortly after his dumping. The electorate is one of Labour's richest in the country, and has one of the largest LEC memberships.

The Dunedin South electorate office in South Dunedin is actually owned by the local Labour committee, which benefits financially through renting it back to Parliamentary Services.

David Benson-Pope says his "loyalty to the Labour Party is beyond question, but continues to drag out the announcement of his decision to stand as an Independent candidate. He would campaign for the Electorate vote, while encouraging people to give Labour their party vote.
DBP could stand under the sometimes-used "Independent Labour" banner, but in an interview on local station Radio Dunedin this week, he said he would consider standing for another party like New Zealand First or the Greens, if he was approached.

In other DBP news this past week, the Broadcasting Standards Authority rejected a series of complaints against broadcaster TV3 made by David Benson-Pope.

The MP was angry about coverage on 3 News about his attempts to seek re-election in Dunedin South, arguing the reports "breached standards of good taste and decency, balance, accuracy and fairness". All the complaints were rejected by the Authority.

* Whale Oil - Benson-Pope - the gift that keeps on giving
* Homepaddock - Benson-Pope might go independent

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