what the stuff is Brian Connell up to? [snip]
All I can think of is that
either he has some deeply set moral outrage against his Leader getting a bit
on the side or he is part of something bigger. Is Connell the front man for
some opportunistic coup to roll Brash? If so, who is the hand up his back?
A combination of moral outrage and vengence, it would appear.
Last November Mr Connell, who confronted his leader Don Brash about his
private life at National's Tuesday caucus, was bitterly disappointed at
his placement at the bottom of the party's rankings and shared his
frustration with the Ashburton Guardian.
Mr Connell's observation, that to say he was disappointed by the
treatment handed out to him was an understatement, led to a caucus row
and Dr Brash reading an apology on Mr Connell's behalf a few days
Mr Connell skipped a scheduled joint press conference with Dr Brash to
attend the New Zealand Trotting Cup.
The apology brought to a head a series of incidents, which included Mr
Connell questioning Murray McCully's role as party strategist,
criticising the demotion of Katherine Rich and claiming National would
resume logging on the West Coast - an election campaign assertion
swiftly rejected by Dr Brash.
In November 2003 Mr Connell was the first MP to publicly question
whether Nick Smith should remain Dr Brash's deputy, a position Dr Smith
relinquished soon after.
A 46-year-old farmer and businessman, Mr Connell retained the Rakaia
seat for National in the 2002 election after former Prime Minister
Jenny Shipley stepped down.
He had only recently returned to New Zealand after working for 20 years
for large multinational companies as a senior executive, mostly in
A staunch moral conservative, he emerged from backbench obscurity
during the 2004 debate over the Civil Union bill. His vehement
opposition to what he called a "gay recruitment drive" which improperly
endorsed gay parenting, came under fire from his lesbian sister-in-law,
who said her children's family set-up was as good as Mr Connell's.
Mr Connell's father-in-law, John Kennedy, edited the Catholic newspaper
the Tablet for many years.
Since arriving in Parliament Mr Connell has earned a reputation as a
maverick, a role he seemed to court by telling the Ashburton Guardian
that the fact he was a member of the National Party was "absolutely
irrelevant" to him when he conducted his duties or formed a view.
At a time when National's high poll ratings might have suggested
political pragmatism, Mr Connell's viewpoint has apparently led him to
confront his party leader on a moral principle.