Christchurch mayor 'Sideshow' Bob Parker has made great play of his political 'independence' - he's claimed to be above tawdry 'party' politics.
However all his election backers were of a conservative bent and Parker has been quick to fire a salvo or two at his critics - who are invariably liberal or left wing.
In stark contrast he has either publicly supported or remained silent when his right wing council supporters have made transgressions or said things that they shouldn't have. Councillors Barry Corbett, Sue Wells and Gail Sheriff have all benefited from Sideshow Bob's benevolence. They, of course, also describe themselves as politically 'independent'.
Despite his so-called political 'independence' Bob has recently been keen to fraternise with the National Party.
Last Tuesday there was a important workshop for Christchurch City Councillors. Mayor Parker was conspicuously absent.
Where was he? What important mission had taken him away from council work? It must of been something of utmost urgency.
The answer can be found in the campaign blog of National leader John Key.
Key writes about his activities on Tuesday, 28 October:
'The release of National's prisons policy, a visit to Air New Zealand's hangars, a drop-in to a preschool, and a meeting with Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker were all highlights of my visit to Christchurch yesterday.' (29 October).
Yes, Bob was hanging out with his mate John Key - which, apparently, he didn't tell his councillors about.
John Key has sung the praises of Mayor Parker before. At the National Party Canterbury-Westland Regional Conference in May he congratulated Parker 'for his 'commitment in tackling crime in Christchurch'.
It seems that Sideshow Bob gets along terrifically with the National Party. In contrast his relationship with local Labour MP's cannot be said to be warm.
Meanwhile, while giving local Labour (and Progressive) MP's the cold shoulder, Sideshow Bob has extended the hand of friendship to the Nats even further. A few weeks ago Bob met with National finance spokesperson Bill English - along with several senior council managers.