Well almost. I did attend The Hand Mirror's Suffrage Eve Debate, where cupcakes were served. It was rad; and fem, although not rad fem. Candidates who were women talked about women's issues to audience of mostly women. I did a quick headcount and counted that a full twenty-five percent of the heads were red, which just goes to show that redheads are feisty (a media term for women of character).
Then we ate cupcakes, lots of them. Afterwards I felt somewhat as Cool Hand Luke must have done after eating all those eggs without so much as a dash of Thousand Islands Dressing (it's a Paul Newman reference: try to keep up). However, the next morning I woke with a craving for cupcakes. They are the new P (incidentally, on the cover of this week's Listener is the question "did Hitler use P?" Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please).
Anyway, to the point: one of the candidates at Suffrage Eve was Ms Nikki Kaye, who aspires to be MP for Auckland Central. She spent most of her allotted time acknowledging. She acknowledged the audience, the women in her family, the women who helped make the National Party what it is today, the men in her family, the audience members who disagreed with her, the women of Federated Farmers and so on. She probably acknowledged the cupcakes. I know I did. I acknowledged each one in turn, in much the same way that Noble Savages gave thanks to the spirits of the noble beasts they hunted and ate. Later I acknowledged the Great Cupcake Spirit, perhaps because I had consumed more coloured icing than was good for me. The cupcakes were made by Arna, Julie and Steph, women of character all of them, as is Anjum Rahman.
Anyway, back to the point. Without wishing to be unkind, and fully acknowledging my loyalty to the present and future incumbent of the Auckland Central seat, I could not help but feel that Ms Kaye is a little unversed in the ways of politics. It is not just that all the acknowledging seemed to be a clumsy means of ingratiating herself with the lefties. It is perhaps a little more that she didn't have a great deal to say. She did have a big blue folder, which she consulted at length; but it did not seem to contain a lot, which doubtless is in line with National's policy rationing policy. She did make much of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, claiming that it was outrageous that the Government was refusing to fund it; Ms Kaye was seemingly unaware that the Government does not make drug approval and funding decisions, these being the responsibilities of Medsafe and Pharmac respectively. Such was Ms Kaye's rancour in the face of the facts that she went on to challenge anyone in the audience to defend the absence of funding for Herceptin. This is the sort of act which Sir Humphrey Appleby would have called 'courageous.' And sure enough, one of the audience turned out to be a health professional from Middlemore Hospital, who defended the decision with facts aplenty.
I saw Ms Kaye speak again on Sunday, on Waiheke Island. The event, a meeting about the increase in ferry fares, was disappointingly deficient in cupcakes. Ms Kaye was predictably deficient in facts. At least the coffee stall at the ferry terminal sold cupcakes, very good ones at that.
Despite these shortcomings, Nikki Kaye at least has a fan. And it is none other than Bridget Saunders. Only this Sunday past, Ms Saunders had the onerous task of evaluating Fashion Week. She chose the novel approach of listing her opinions of the best and worst of everything, so readers were treated to Best fashion tip, Best looking front-row presence, Naughtiest front-row behaviour (oh, she is a one, that Bridget, always spotting naughtiness), most grievous front-row error and so on and on and on. There were two pages of this drivel. And in amongst it all was this:
Most popular political presence: Nikki Kaye. She's a Tory, up against Judith Tizard running for Auckland Central but she's hardcore green. (She dragged herself off a 22-hour flight from London last weekend to go straight to Waiheke for talks about rubbish disposal before heading to the Qantas Media Awards. Anyone else would have gone straight to bed).I mean, like Oh.My.God. Its Nikki Kaye. Amongst all those glittering fashionistas, one face shone like a beacon in the night, that of hardcore green tory frequent flier Nikki "no sleep till Grey Lynn" Kaye. Lol. Wut?
Wut indeed, since this is not the first time. Ms Saunders has gushed about Ms Kaye on several occasions. And I am not the only one to notice. Over at Metro, where they gossip about the gossip columns, Brendon Cole reprinted this gush
It was great to see National Party candidate, NIKKI KAYE out (28, very smart, very caring, very cool!)"Was it really" asked Mr Cole. Quite. After all, Ms Saunders is supposed to be providing tittle-tattle about Beautiful People for the leering classes, not outpourings about someone who is not exactly on the A List. And over on TV3's election Blog, Sylvia Giles noticed that Ms Kaye was lucky to "secure favour" with Ms Saunders. Everybody is talking about it.
In a previous episode of the Fundy Post, I quoted Ms Saunders dropping Ms Kaye's name into the conversation (incidentally, Ms Saunders also quoted That Nice Mr Key: "John Key is betting on an election date of October 18. He says it won't be November as the US election is on November 5 and no matter which way that goes, it will be bad for Helen." Perhaps Mr Key should have stuck to placing bets of the Forex kind).
So what is going on? What is it about Ms Kaye that has so entranced Ms Saunders? Ms Kaye is not famous, she is not Beautiful (in the high cheekbones and high heels notion of Beauty favoured by the gossip columnists), she does not appear to be rich and she is not a high-achiever. Her previous political experience is negligible and her CV is underwhelming: she went to London on her OE; she worked in transport. Mind The Gap.
In order to learn what is going on, we must recall a previous chapter of Hard News, in which Mr Brown reveals that Ms Saunders is a confidant of Mr Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater and that Mr Slater can be more catty than Colin. So what, you might say. But then you probably have not read a rather revealing post by Silent Running about a righties' bloggers' drinks held in July. Let me direct you to this paragraph:
And then Whale and Hamish solemnly told Stu and I (we naieve young men..) about how we should give up on the noble golden dream that is ACT and instead try to infiltrate their National party with good people. That's what we all talked about at the last blogger drinks too (which I also made it to) and they then proceeded to actually do it with Nikki Kaye (who joined us) in Auckland Central electorate.Let us now join the dots: Ms Saunders is the confidant of Mr Slater and Ms Kaye is his Creature. It is the Axis of Oil, not so much a vast right-wing conspiracy as a bizarre love triangle. Ms Kaye was infiltrated into the Auckland Central nomination, which explains the mutterings of discontent that have been coming from some Tory quarters. It goes some way towards explaining why Dr Jackie Blue did not receive the nomination, which surprised most of us looking on from the sidelines. It also puts some perspective on Ms Kaye's claim that “there weren’t many people that would’ve given me the odds of being selected at 28 in a seat like Auckland Central but I backed myself and fought my way through it.” With a little help from your friends, dearie. The connexion between Mr Slater and Ms Kaye also throws some light on his claim to have received a secret internal poll which shows Ms Kaye doing terribly well. My sources tell me this poll is imaginary.
Feel free to comment. However, before you out me as a member of the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy, I should out myself: I am a friend of Judith Tizard and a member of her campaign team. I am also employed in her office to do very dull non-political tasks. I should also declare, on the Register of Extra-Parliamentary Interests, that I recently received from Judith a donation of muffins, which were delicious.