The Dim-Post

November 28, 2011

So terrible they’re indispensible

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:04 am

Morgan suggests Annette King and Phil Goff should retire and speed up the regeneration of their party by encouraging new talent to stand as Labour candidates in their by-elections. And they should. But if you look at the party votes for Rongotai and Mt Roskill you can see why they might be reluctant. Although Goff and King both won the electorate votes by large margins, they both came awfully close to losing the party vote to National. In Rongotai the margin is only ~160 votes. It might even go blue on the specials. If either of Labour’s leaders retire in place of a new, less well-known candidate they risk losing these once safe seats to the National Party.

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74 Comments »

  1. Or possibly the Greens. In several urban seats there is almost a three way split of the vote between National, Labour and Green. If Labour doesn’t get its sh-t together in the next 3 to 6 years and the Greens don’t stuff up too badly, the Greens will probably take over as the dominant left wing party.

    Comment by helenalex — November 28, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  2. Ditto that for a range of MPs in similar seats. For instance, Trevor Mallard in Hutt South – large personal majority, but actually in the party vote National are ahead by a couple of thousand. If (as seems likely) Trevor departs wither at the next election (or sooner) all bets are off and we could have the strange outcome of a National MP for the Hutt.

    Comment by DT — November 28, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  3. Nah, in a by-election in Mt Roskill or Hutt South, Green supporters would vote for the Labour candidate because they see the electorate contest as a contest between Labour and National. It may be different in Rongotai, because that’s one the Greens have a chance of winning.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 28, 2011 @ 9:27 am

  4. Though she’s 10k behind, Holly Walker from the Greens could be a stern challenger for Hutt South if she lives up to billing.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 28, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  5. And if they leave it too long the electoral mood will swing blue or green.

    Comment by merv — November 28, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  6. Kahikatea: Kris Faafoi’s margin in the Mana by-election was less than 1500, and Jan Logie got over 1500 votes herself (no mean feat). Quite a few Green voters vote for the Green electorate candidates. I saw at least one distressed Labour member on Facebook the other night annoyed that Nikkie Kaye’s margin over Jacinda Ardern was less than the number of votes for Denise Roche.

    Comment by derp de derp — November 28, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  7. As a Rongotai voter, I really can’t see National; picking it up. If you give it a year or so and the public mood changes a bit, I think it would be fairly safe.

    Comment by max — November 28, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  8. Or possibly the Greens. In several urban seats there is almost a three way split of the vote between National, Labour and Green. If Labour doesn’t get its sh-t together in the next 3 to 6 years and the Greens don’t stuff up too badly, the Greens will probably take over as the dominant left wing party.

    In which case, they’ll need to learn how organise and win in electorate seats. It was fair enough, I guess, that they only targeted the party vote this time, but I don’t buy that — as some excited supporters think — they could become the dominant party on the left without any credible electorate candidates.

    It’s worth noting that on the sole occasion where a Green candidate has been slightly ahead of Labour in the candidate vote — Coromandel 1999 — Labour asked its voters to cast their vote for Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was thus able to defeat Murray Maclean and take the seat. Perhaps that could happen again, but the the Greens need to start now.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 9:46 am

  9. I think it is hilarious that commentators like Bryce Edwards and Lew, who excoriate Labour for being full of straight-from-university wannabe professional career politicians, turn all dewy eyed at the supposed rise of the Green’s Holly Smith, a straight-from-university wannabe professional career politician.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 28, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  10. Of course the other way works as well and National puts in a candidate who does well um terrible and makes that electorate even more safer for Labour than it really should be. Mt. Albert a perfect example.

    Comment by gingercrush — November 28, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  11. Sanctuary, I don’t bag Labour for that; I bag Labour for being full of people who think that serving time in the party and talking earnestly about policy is all they need to do, and if the voters refuse to support them for that, it’s the voters’ fault.

    L

    Comment by Lew — November 28, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  12. I saw at least one distressed Labour member on Facebook the other night annoyed that Nikkie Kaye’s margin over Jacinda Ardern was less than the number of votes for Denise Roche.

    There were clear reasons for Auckland Central Green voters to cast their candidate vote for Ardern. There’s very little between the two parties on the major “Auckland issues”, most notably the CBD rail loop, and Ardern is an effective and articulate advocate on those issues. Having her take Auckland Central would have sent an important symbolic message and given Len Brown an important ally.

    Well, that and how Denise Roche (who I think will be a very good MP) repeatedly stated that she was only really targeting Green party votes.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  13. Russell @ 8 & 12 …

    So the Greens need to “learn how organise and win in electorate seats” because “they [can't] become the dominant party on the left without any credible electorate candidates” … but in Auckland Central Green voters shouldn’t have voted for their Green candidate because it’s important to give Labour a tactical victory? Is there a rule book somewhere so that a humble voter is able to know the “right” circumstances in which to two-tick or vote split in every electorate?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 28, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  14. @DT maybe if Trevor Mallard resigns we might see Russell Brown return to his homeland to be the new face of Labour :-)

    Comment by R Singers — November 28, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  15. I don’t think Phil Goff should quit early, mainly because he’s promised he won’t.

    But an imaginative (oo er!) and bold (oo double er!) strategy for Labour would be to wait a year, maybe 18 months, and then, if the polls are moving against National, to hold several by-elections on the same day – e.g. one in each of the three main centres (King? Dyson? Ross Robertson?).

    A mini-referendum on a government losing popularity, and a sign that Labour are rejuvenating, could really shake things up. It would of course be a risky move, so it won’t happen, but hey, this advice is free if they want it.

    Comment by sammy — November 28, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  16. Rongotai could be fascinating next election.

    While King and Finlayson polled about the same for the as 2008 (51% and 27% respectively), Norman gained 4 points (15% to 19%) this year.

    The total and party votes tell the real story:

    – Total ballots cast down a whopping 18%
    – Labour down from 43% to 34%
    – National up 31% to 33%
    – Greens lifting from 17% to 23%

    I think without a zombie vote for an incumbent King, Rongotai could well be up for grabs in 2014 with a spirited electorate campaign from the Greens.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  17. You can tell voters how to vote all you want. Many will follow that advice. But many will ignore that advice. Even if electorates were under preferential voting you would still see anamolies that could well have seen some of that Green candidate vote going to Kaye next. Incumbent MPs also tend to do well even when the party vote is going elsewhere and that has to be taken in account. That actually makes how close Ardern was to Kaye very significant I think.

    Comment by gingercrush — November 28, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  18. Labour were prepared to make an accomodation with the Greens, at no cost, when the Greens were a minor party but they might be less inclined to help the Greens on their way to become the dominant left party.

    It’s probably a lot harder to get people to go strategic with their electorate vote, witness Epsom, since that’s quite personal, compared to the party vote.

    Comment by NeilM — November 28, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  19. I’ll continue to LOL at any suggestion that the Greens have more than a minuscule shot of overtaking Labour this decade. It might happen in the very long run, though by that time Napier will be below sea level.

    Comment by bradluen — November 28, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  20. @bradluen

    You may well LOL but with a short term Labour swing to the right inevitable as they try to ‘out centre’ National, Left field is wide open.
    The Greens could make hay here and continue to strengthen the party activist base.

    I agree though that surpassing Labour is probably 3 electoral cycles out.
    By then though, Ardern might be in the hot seat and things could well be different with an invigourated caucus.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  21. Sorry, but this “Greens – dominant left party” line is nonsense.

    They fought by far the smartest campaign, and got 10%. A superb result for a minor party, but that’s a world away from supplanting Labour, any time.

    The test for major/minor parties is always what happens after they’ve been in government. Labour can be loathed and destroyed (1990), and return. National can be ridculed and destroyed (2002), and return.

    The Greens certainly have every chance of getting into government in 2014. And every chance of losing votes as a consequence. Voters admire the minor parties’ virginity, but once that’s gone, they keep going back to the two old slappers.

    Comment by sammy — November 28, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  22. I’ll continue to LOL at any suggestion that the Greens have more than a minuscule shot of overtaking Labour this decade

    perhaps, but Labour will be struggling harder to get it’s message, whatever that may be, heard over the top of the Greens and Winston.

    The Greens will continue to be advantaged by being untarnished by the realities of power – until they get into power – and Winston is clever and ruthless.

    The Greens will have hugh moral authority attracting liberals and Winston will continue to get the “keeping them honest” voters via scandal mongering which never worked that well for Labour these past 3 years.

    Comment by NeilM — November 28, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  23. > Is there a rule book somewhere so that a humble voter is able to know the “right” circumstances in which to two-tick or vote split in every electorate?

    I would’ve thought it was not that complicated, Andrew. Look at Epsom. David Parker was never going to win the seat but he received more than 3000 votes. If those votes had gone to the National candidate, bye bye ACT. But I think what Russell was talking about was for the Greens and Labour to sit down and talk about how they can help each other. It’s not evident that that happened before this election.

    Comment by Ross — November 28, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  24. The biggest threat to Labour isn’t the Greens. For all their giddy joy, like National they’ve most likely hit their high water mark of support. Normally they poll in the 5-7% range on election day and I see no reason why that should change in the long term. In fact, if I were the Greens I would be looking around for an electorate (or preferably two) somewhere to deploy their new found resources to make sure they have an electoral lifeboat. If the next election comes down to a much closer two horse race, the Green vote could easily halve and put them in danger of extinction if the threshold isn’t lowered.

    For me, the biggest threat for Labour is that they are permanently gone in the provinces. Restoring the party to some decent provincial seats like Hawkes Bay, New Plymouth and the two Hamiltons should be top priority. Otherwise Labour is in danger of becoming just a sectional party of the urban poor and liberal elite, an unstable combination because the first is vulnerable to further atomisation and disenfranchisement by the boss classes and the latter is just as likely to wander off to ACT or the Greens as stay with Labour.

    And whilst I personally would like to see King, Dyson and Mallard gone they’ve got electorate seats and besides, they are not the biggest problem – indeed, their experience is vital. the problem is that a load of talent got lower list places to a bunch of jnon-performing incumbent list only MPs. There are at least four current list MP’s who in my view are worse perfomers for Labour than Kelvin Davis, Carmel Sepuloni and Stuart Nash. So getting them to quietly resign and be replaced by list candidates would be a better wway to go IMHO.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 28, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  25. @ sammy

    A good point.

    Possibly the most effective way for Labour to neutralise the Greens would be to sweet-talk them into coalition post 2014 and thereby administer the Kiss of Death.

    I think the Greens are smarter than that though. They were fucked over in ’02 and ’05 and owe the NZLP nothing.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  26. “Although Goff and King both won the electorate votes by large margins, they both came awfully close to losing the party vote to National.”

    Why not mention New Lynn? Cunnliffe 50.7% Party vote lower than National.

    Comment by PaulD — November 28, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  27. Ross,

    I simply was commenting on the apparent contradiction between Russell saying “the Greens will need to focus on winning electorates” and then saying “but Green voters should support Labour candidates when needed to beat National (at least in some situations)”. Sure, you can square this by saying the Greens and Labour ought to try and stitch up a deal prior to each election (“OK – you can have Auckland Central if you give us Hutt South, etc”) … but good luck with that!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 28, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  28. Sorry, Andrew, I don’t see any inconsistency in what Russell said. The Greens are probably never going to be a force in electorate seats but they could have a presence. They’re probably going to need Labour’s assistance for that to happen.

    Comment by Ross — November 28, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  29. But I think what Russell was talking about was for the Greens and Labour to sit down and talk about how they can help each other. It’s not evident that that happened before this election.

    Quite. There was a clear rationale for Green party voters to offer a candidate vote to Ardern: she advocates well on various Auckland-specfic policies the two parties basically share. As Denise Roche kept saying: “Party vote, party vote, party vote Green. If you want me as an MP that’s what you gotta do.” She knew she would not be delivered by a candidate vote and pointedly didn’t ask for it.

    If Holly Walker works her ass off locally for three years, and keeps together a team, she might get into a position to ask the Labour candidate there to reciprocate. But it does take work — Ardern has been running meetings and public discussions since she was named as candidate.

    It seems evident to me that the two parties need to learn ways of working together where working together makes sense.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  30. Sure, you can square this by saying the Greens and Labour ought to try and stitch up a deal prior to each election (“OK – you can have Auckland Central if you give us Hutt South, etc”) … but good luck with that!

    The only previous “deal” was a consequence of Jeanette Fitzsimons outpolling the Labour candidate in Coromandel. Sure, Clark’s hand was forced by the prospect of the Greens missing out altogether, but she explicitly asked her voters to support the Green candidate.

    I wouldn’t anticipate it happening everywhere, but there will be places where it makes sense. I don’t see why potential coalition partners need to be scratching each others’ eyes out all the time.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  31. Gregor W

    Keep in mind that there are 4,704 special votes still to count in Rongotai. I don’t think it will significantly change the vote distribution for party or candidate, but it means that voter turnout is only down by about 5% rather than 18%.

    Comment by Waldo — November 28, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  32. Eckshually, to quote someone, strategic voting in Epsom was a disaster for Nats – thanks to the copllapse of ACT – all John got was tired Nat retread whom he’s going to have to humour for the next 3 years, while Paul Goldsmith who may be a hagiographer, but is smarter than he looks, was left out in the cold

    Comment by Leopold — November 28, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  33. Oops – my mistake – Paul’s on the list, so he’s not out in the cold.

    Comment by Leopold — November 28, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  34. @ Waldo

    Very true. I completely forgot about the specials.
    If the proportions stay relatively static in terms of party vote, this is still not a great story for Labour in a red seat.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  35. Sanctuary I really don’t think Labour should worry about the two Hamilton electorates. When Labour is back in favour those Hamilton electorates will swing back in for Labour. I do think there needs to be some worry about Hawkes Bay as while they should swing back. The National MPs have done very well there and will be extremely difficult to unseat. New Plymouth will be interesting. I can see that swinging back to Labour quite easily when the swing heads towards them.

    Comment by gingercrush — November 28, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  36. Jacinda Ardern losing the Auckland Central seat is what we call “Character Building”. I’m sure she’ll be helicoptered into a safe labour seat before the next General Election. Mt Roskill anyone?

    As for Auckland Central, batter up!

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — November 28, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  37. Russell Brown wrote: “The only previous “deal” was a consequence of Jeanette Fitzsimons outpolling the Labour candidate in Coromandel. Sure, Clark’s hand was forced by the prospect of the Greens missing out altogether, but she explicitly asked her voters to support the Green candidate.”

    I disagree. It was a consequence of the fact that the Greens were close to missing out altogether and those votes being wasted. The fact of Jeanette Fitzsimons outpolling the Labour candidate may have made it easier, but it wasn’t the reason. With the Greens now comfortably over 5%, there is no reason for Labour to do that again.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 28, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  38. There’s so much implicit FPP reasoning in this thread it’s amazing after 15 years of MMP. Once a party is clearly going to be over the threshold it really doesn’t matter whether Greens vote for Labour electorate candidates or vice versa. The electorate wins matter for some degree of personal pride, and for those candidates who are, for whatever reason, not on the party list or way down it. But once a party is over the threshold tactical electorate voting makes no difference to the overall strength of particular groups in parliament.

    I’m not sure that Phil Goff and Annette King are the worst of Labour’s problems. Danyl bangs on about people not liking Phil Goff, but I’d say it’s more likely that he just didn’t make an impression on enough voters. The bigger problems for Labour are the non-entities and has-beens in other places on the list and in electorates.

    Comment by Exiled Waif — November 28, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  39. In which case, they’ll need to learn how organise and win in electorate seats. It was fair enough, I guess, that they only targeted the party vote this time, but I don’t buy that — as some excited supporters think — they could become the dominant party on the left without any credible electorate candidates.

    Indeed. I see by elections more as an opportunity to practice than to win. But that doesn’t mean the Greens shouldn’t throw everything into that practice.


    They fought by far the smartest campaign, and got 10%. A superb result for a minor party, but that’s a world away from supplanting Labour, any time.

    Quite. Although it is very much worth mentioning that although the level of campaigning in this election was a significant step up from previous ones, it’s still a way from that practiced by Labour and National. The challenge will be maintaining and building on that in subsequent elections – as will be necessary to build on that.

    The most practical demonstration of a proper campaign by the Greens was Wellington Central. With 250 volunteers, they came extremely close to supplanting Labour on the party vote, and are likely to do so on specials. Not everywhere can do so much; in south Auckland our team was limited, and the results tend to reflect that. Again, the challenge for any small party is building those mechanisms sustainably.

    Comment by George D — November 28, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  40. Too Many Daves
    Dr. Seuss

    Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
    Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?

    Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
    You see, when she wants one, and calls out “Yoo-Hoo!
    Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
    All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

    Comment by Augie — November 28, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  41. > With the Greens now comfortably over 5%, there is no reason for Labour to do that again.

    Well, you’re assuming that the Greens will always get over the threshold which I wouldn’t assume. But irrespective of that, it just makes sense for the Greens and Labour to work more closely. If Labour are going to be in government, they will surely need the Greens’ support.

    Comment by Ross — November 28, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  42. as will be necessary to build on that. I need a copyeditor.

    Comment by George D — November 28, 2011 @ 11:53 am

  43. >Nah, in a by-election in Mt Roskill or Hutt South, Green supporters would vote for the Labour candidate because they see the electorate contest as a contest between Labour and National.

    Precisely. It doesn’t matter that National “won” the party vote – that’s applying FPP thinking to the proportional part of the vote. The Labour candidate gets in because the Greens vote tactically. Indeed, National probably “won” the party vote because leftist Labourites tactically voted Green, too.

    But it’s still to early to call for leadership change. After the votes are finished being counted, and we do actually have a National government, then it’s perhaps time. Perhaps. If so, the succession plan should be much more measured than the Clark plan was – dump the leadership on election night. Labour should be planning their 2014 campaign, taking very careful and measured consideration of the relative merits, and working out who the constituents they haven’t reached out to yet are. The main one I see, vast and untapped, is the young. Baby boomers are grinding to the right by simple attrition of time, their super and their assets are all they have left, and National will never take that away. If Labour is to grow back from this, it has to start tapping a new source of voters.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 28, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  44. The most practical demonstration of a proper campaign by the Greens was Wellington Central. With 250 volunteers, they came extremely close to supplanting Labour on the party vote, and are likely to do so on specials. Not everywhere can do so much; in south Auckland our team was limited, and the results tend to reflect that. Again, the challenge for any small party is building those mechanisms sustainably.

    That’s a great result for the Greens, and one achieved via a big, strong electorate team.

    Hey, I might be wrong and the Greens will prosper without ever winning an electorate seat, but what you’ve just cited still shows the benefits of motivation and organisation at an electorate level.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  45. The most practical demonstration of a proper campaign by the Greens was Wellington Central. With 250 volunteers, they came extremely close to supplanting Labour on the party vote, and are likely to do so on specials. Not everywhere can do so much; in south Auckland our team was limited, and the results tend to reflect that. Again, the challenge for any small party is building those mechanisms sustainably.

    Shame the candidate who ran that was too low on the list to get into Parliament . . .

    Comment by danylmc — November 28, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  46. Incumbent MPs also tend to do well even when the party vote is going elsewhere and that has to be taken in account. That actually makes how close Ardern was to Kaye very significant I think.
    This. Ardern more than halved the 2008 margin despite quite a popular incumbent, a National friendly climate and some strategic voting-averse Green voters. Granted, the seat leans left and should’ve been won by Labour, but Ardern is a natural fit for the electorate and “helicoptering” her out to a safer seat risks losing Auckland Central to National as long as Kaye stays, given that she’ll keep climbing the National list and possibly getting a ministerial role, making it even harder for a new candidate to contest her.

    Comment by PJ — November 28, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  47. I think it is hilarious that commentators like Bryce Edwards and Lew, who excoriate Labour for being full of straight-from-university wannabe professional career politicians, turn all dewy eyed at the supposed rise of the Green’s Holly [Walker], a straight-from-university wannabe professional career politician.

    Slightly different when that university is Otago by way of Oxford on a Rhodes, but I can see the point…

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 28, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  48. Doesn’t it make it worse? To go along with the actual, no joke, from the holy centre of dirigisme, Sciences Po graduate? I like technocratic policy wonks, but still!

    Comment by Keir — November 28, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  49. Greens ran a smart campaign, as far as presenting and selling themselves goes. But what they were selling lacks smarts and realism.

    100,000 green jobs – little detail on how that would be achieved other than “surely we can get a proportion of the worldwide green tech market”.

    100,000 kids out of poverty – neatly numbered and packaged but what? Too bad for the other 170,000 supposedly in poverty. Part of this plank was raising the minimum wage to $15 and saying no one can live on $13 per hour. That’s bollocks. Many people live on less (the benefit). Depends on where they live, and especialy on housing costs. An 18 year old living at home can survive on $13 per hour. There’s a lot more to poverty than handing out more money across the board.

    Labour were taken to task for their election promise costs. Greens promised what they wanted without reality checks.

    Comment by Pete George — November 28, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  50. Granted, the seat leans left and should’ve been won by Labour

    Good point. Labour party votes in Auckland Central (7,125) + Green (6,024) added up to 13,149 — just under 50% of the total cast — while National got 11,754. So for all the talk of this now being a structurally blue seat, it actually isn’t.

    The Greens actually won more votes this year than in 2008, despite a substantial slump in votes cast (27,358 vs 35,309), but were never in the electorate race.

    All the more reason to co-operate on electing a centre-left electorate MP, one would think.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  51. Actually, I think I’m wrong there. Specials will bring up the vote total much closer to 2008.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  52. @Ross: “But irrespective of that, it just makes sense for the Greens and Labour to work more closely. If Labour are going to be in government, they will surely need the Greens’ support.”

    True. But it’s a leap from this to say that the Greens and Labour ought to enter into a series of strategic alliances in which they instruct their voters to cast their electorate votes in a different way to their party votes. I mean, what was Denise Roche’s message meant to be at candidate meetings/on her pamphlets … “Because there’s very little between us an Labour on the major “Auckland issues”, most notably the CBD rail loop, and Jacinda Ardern is an effective and articulate advocate on those issues and having her take Auckland Central will send an important symbolic message and give Len Brown an important ally, give your electorate vote Labour (in exchange for the stance Labour is taking on the electorate race in Hutt South where they have agreed to instruct their voters to support Holly Walker). But Party Vote Green!” Good luck running that one past the voting public!

    Equally, you have to factor in the angst and risk of likely conflict involved in deciding which electorate “belongs” to which party – as well as the risk of local rebellion. To say nothing of the broader risk of voter disenchantment at being treated like pawns in some very clever nationwide chess game hatched up by the strategic leadership of the two parties working in tandem. “Fuck You, I Won’t Do What You Tell Me!”, anyone?

    Finally, if it is true that (as Russell argues) the Greens will not prosper unless they can win an electorate seat, what exactly is Labour’s motivation for helping them out? Is winning Auckland Central worth solidifying the position of a party that is stealing 10% or more of your votes?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 28, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  53. Yes.

    The Greens don’t steal Labour’s votes in any meaningful sense.

    (It isn’t that hard to run past the voting public; they already do it, and most Green party voters already vote split.)

    Comment by Keir — November 28, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  54. True. But it’s a leap from this to say that the Greens and Labour ought to enter into a series of strategic alliances in which they instruct their voters to cast their electorate votes in a different way to their party votes.

    Um, it’s not like it’s unprecedented …

    But Party Vote Green!” Good luck running that one past the voting public!

    But Roche near as dammit said that, and it appeared to have an impact — it got Ardern within 500 votes, when Labour was 4000 votes behind National on the party vote. I don’t really see why it’s such a crazy-ass idea.

    Is winning Auckland Central worth solidifying the position of a party that is stealing 10% or more of your votes?

    With National’s 2005 consolidation strategy finally working, it’s hard to see how the Greens and Labour will be able to form a coalition without finding ways to cooperate on the way there.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  55. I know at least one Auckland Central voter who went Kaye/Green because while they prefer Green/Labour policy towards Auckland issues they believed that Kaye herself “wasn’t far off the mark” and they preferred a direct line to the inevitable Government on those issues than another target for Joyce and Key to fuck over.

    Comment by garethw — November 28, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  56. I’ll take this “Greens supplant Labour” thing seriously the first time I hear it from somebody who isn’t a National or Greens supporter.

    Comment by Hugh — November 28, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  57. Want to end all this spoiler vote nonsense? Switch the electorate voting system to STV or PV.

    Comment by DeepRed — November 28, 2011 @ 1:54 pm


  58. I’ll take this “Greens supplant Labour” thing seriously the first time I hear it from somebody who isn’t a National or Greens supporter.

    They won’t be a Labour supporter either.

    I don’t think it’s a useful meme. Established a niche, a corner of the political landscape? Certainly. And it’s worth exploring the possibilities, finding out how large that is. It could be 12-15%, it could equally be higher. We’ll have a better answer to that question in three years time.

    Comment by George D — November 28, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  59. I know at least one Auckland Central voter who went Kaye/Green because while they prefer Green/Labour policy towards Auckland issues they believed that Kaye herself “wasn’t far off the mark” and they preferred a direct line to the inevitable Government on those issues than another target for Joyce and Key to fuck over.

    There’s some logic in that too, but the record has tended to be more one of Kaye being quarantined as the symbolic but safely-ignored liberal. And her priority appears to be the Ponsonby tram line that hardly anyone else thinks is a priority.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  60. Russell Brown wrote: “Labour party votes in Auckland Central (7,125) + Green (6,024) added up to 13,149 — just under 50% of the total cast — while National got 11,754. So for all the talk of this now being a structurally blue seat, it actually isn’t.”

    the same is true for lots of other seats where National got more party votes than Labour – Dunedin South, Port Hills, Wellington Central, Hutt South…
    It’s important to remember this when you see those maps of the country looking all blue.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 28, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  61. Come on people, Jacinda Ardern is just a Deborah Morris clone. No one takes her seriously. Her ONLY asset is her relative youth and the sands of time keep slipping away.

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — November 28, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  62. @Keir: “The Greens don’t steal Labour’s votes in any meaningful sense.”

    I suppose the fact that (prior to specials) Labour got some 255,381 votes less than 2008, while the Greens got some 54,318 more, is merely correlative and in no way indicates a causative relationship? And, to preempt a likely response, yes these are still all kept by “the left”. But even though the Greens and Labour most likely will have to work together to govern in 2014 (or later), they ain’t friends. And expecting them to suddenly become such is magical thinking.

    And of course most Greens voters vote-split. It’s the only rational thing to do … so all those who voted for Denise Roche personally were silly. But there’s not much you can do about silly people who vote … I mean, there were 4763 votes cast for the Green and Labour candidates in Epsom! So to go from the fact that some silly people can’t work out for themselves what to do with their electorate vote to argue that the Greens and Labour should start actively encouraging their supporters to vote for candidates for other parties as a part of a wider strategic plan to apportion electorates to the party that can generate the most value from it is a stretch.

    Sure, it happened once in Coromandel, in a situation where it was in Labour’s direct interest to protect the Greens presence in Parliament . That’s not what is being talked about here. And we should remember the right’s decision to play the same game in Epsom led to … one ACT MP and the rebirth of Winston Peters’ political career. There’s a lesson there – the cleverer you try to be and the more complicated you make elections, the more room there is for unintended consequences to mess you right up. So … KISS – “Party Vote Us (and work out for yourself what you ought to do with your electorate vote).”

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 28, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  63. Well, yes, I do think that there really isn’t much of a relationship — or at least, not that simple one. Sure, the Greens picked up heaps of votes that other years would go to Labour. But that’s not a bad thing for Labour, because those votes will come home in good years, and to be honest I would much rather the swing is Lab/Green not Lab/Nat.

    So yeah, I don’t think it is that useful to think of Labour and the Greens as competing for the same voters. There is overlap, but that isn’t where the focus has to be.

    Comment by Keir — November 28, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  64. Is it indispensable or indispensible?

    Comment by Gerard — November 28, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  65. So yeah, I don’t think it is that useful to think of Labour and the Greens as competing for the same voters. There is overlap, but that isn’t where the focus has to be.

    @ Kier

    Tell that to “White Ant” Curran.

    The idea that votes will necessarily go back to Labour in ‘good years’ might be a bit anachronistic too, unless you mean that the Greens will naturally seek to form an understanding with Labour as historical representatives of the Left.
    The only reason that in other years the votes would have gone to Labour is that there was no credible leftish/progressive alternative; that is now no longer the case.

    Danyl has made the point before that in all likelihood, Labour will indulge in the tactical error of trying to savage the Greens over the next 2-3 years to claw back the traditional Left vote – Fenton’s “You stupid proles owe us your vote” mentality – rather than get into Key. They’ll leave that job for Winston.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  66. “But that’s not a bad thing for Labour, because those votes will come home in good years … .”

    But by describing Labour as the “home” for the votes that have gone to the Greens, you ARE saying that Labour and the Greens are competing! What … you think the Greens are just borrowing those 50,000 votes for a couple of years until Labour can get back on track, then will politely hand them over once it’s ready to take on its divinely ordained role at the head of Government?

    As for “There is overlap, but that isn’t where the focus has to be” … there will be 2 relevant battles in the next parliamentary term (alongside all the others there will be). One will be to carve off the 5-or-so% from National needed for a “left” Government to replace it in 2014. The second will be amongst the elements of that “left” alternative to get in as strong a position as possible to obtain what they want once in Government. I would caution against assuming the latter “has to be” made subordinate to the former.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 28, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  67. In an election where only 7 of the general electorates were Labour party vote victories, the fact that both the Leader and Dep Leader of the party delivered 2 of those is surely an indication they aren’t terrible at it?

    As an aside – also interesting to note that Labour won the party vote for all the Maori seats. Will be interesting to see if the Maori Party is able to survive beyond the current MPs.

    Comment by Julie Fairey — November 28, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  68. Paradoxically, a cluster-fuck ACT party could drive a ‘marginal by-election from a Labour Party resignation into the hands of National.

    If I were a strategist like Joyce, I’d position the party to campaign on “this by-election can’t change the government, but you can bring in a new National MP and use him/her to jettison Banks & Brash from the cabinet table”.

    Comment by Phil — November 28, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  69. But by describing Labour as the “home” for the votes that have gone to the Greens, you ARE saying that Labour and the Greens are competing! What … you think the Greens are just borrowing those 50,000 votes for a couple of years until Labour can get back on track, then will politely hand them over once it’s ready to take on its divinely ordained role at the head of Government?

    Pretty much. There’s probably a floating 5% on the left of Labour that decided this year to go with the Greens because the Greens were doing a better job. They’ve voted Labour before, and will again. But there’s no point going for those votes specifically, because they will mostly come back if Labour is doing well (i.e. is well led, good policy, good presentation). The ones that don’t? Well, meh. The Greens are a perfectly good coalition partner.

    Labour has to focus on voters who went to National, NZ First, and those who stayed home.

    Comment by Keir — November 28, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  70. I permanently shifted my vote from red to green after Labour fucked over the Greens in forming Government in 2005. I didn’t mind the coalition with NZ First, but to go into coalition with that fruit-loop Peter Dunne and to give the finger to the Greens stuck in my craw.

    And on Dunne – if Labour put up a candidate that wasn’t so polarising, they could probably push him out. I’m pretty sure if Grant Robertson stood in it then UF would be gone.

    Comment by KarlW — November 28, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  71. “The Greens are a perfectly good coalition partner.”

    That’s unproven. They haven’t been regarded as good enough yet by Labour.

    Comment by Pete George — November 28, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  72. Pete,

    Do you want a low wage economy?
    Do you begrudge workers pay rises?
    Do you want people to enjoy a decent standard of living?

    From what you have written, it sounds like you dont. You just want to keep wages and benefits down and have people struggle to make ends meet? Do you know how high rents are, and how much landlords are raising their rent? Why dont you go and tell them not to raise their rent?

    Comment by millsy — November 28, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

  73. Do you want a low wage economy? No, and I don’t know anyone who wants this, it’s been another nonsense election accusation.
    Do you begrudge workers pay rises? No, when they are justified by productivity and viability.
    Do you want people to enjoy a decent standard of living? As much as possible – depending on how you define ‘decent’. Many people, especially families, will feel they never have quite enough.

    You just want to keep wages and benefits down and have people struggle to make ends meet? No, ridiculous accusation.
    Do you know how high rents are, and how much landlords are raising their rent? I know they’re high (in line with with property values), especially in some areas.

    Why dont you go and tell them not to raise their rent? Odd question. What would that achieve?

    If we had a CGT rents would have raised more.
    If we bumped up the minimum wage costs would rise more, especially for things like groceries and fast food.

    If we raise the cost of doing business it would mean less jobs and more business failures, most businesses have been doing it tough over the last three years and piling more costs on them would be damaging for many employers – and workers.

    Government spending needs to be more efficient, borrowing and deficits need to come down, and we need to promote a better business environment without piling more taxes on so employment numbers and wages can rise sustainably rather than artificially. Moving back towards Muldoon type controls would be nuts.

    What is a ‘decent standard of living’?

    Comment by Pete George — November 29, 2011 @ 6:28 am

  74. “Why dont you go and tell them not to raise their rent? Odd question. What would that achieve?”

    Well you seem to think that workers shouldnt get higher wages, so I think I want some consistency from you.

    “If we had a CGT rents would have raised more.”

    Not if we put the money into building more state housing. National’s gutting of HNZ will only force rents further up. The more state housing there is, the less house prices and rents are.

    “If we bumped up the minimum wage costs would rise more, especially for things like groceries and fast food.”

    Costs are already rising Peter, I dont see why workers should get less and less and have to pay more.

    Workers have been doing it tough too. And you want to see them struggle and struggle without a payrise.

    Do you support WFF? Or do you want to get rid of it like all the other rednecks who think low wage workers get too much money, beause thats what youre about.

    Do you really want to have workers hungry and at risk of losing their houses.

    Tell me, do you support things like sick pay, annual leave and time and a half for people who work on public hospitals?

    Do you support trade unions?

    Do you think that workers should be dimissed without notice and recource to a personal greivance?

    A lot of small business owners treat their workers like shit? Do you think thats OK?

    And taxes pay for schools and hospitals. Ironically we wouldnt have the huge numbers on the sickness benefits had Bill Birch and Bill English ripped the heart out of our health system in the 1990s to pay for tax cuts.

    For 25 years, the wealthy has had tax cut after tax cuts, and you know how they were paid for? They were paid by closing school after school and hospital after hospital. Our mental health system is almost non-existent.

    How many schools and hospitals do you want to close?

    It seems you are all about tearing things down and not building them up, and making sure those at the top or with power have more so other people have less.

    Comment by millsy — November 29, 2011 @ 7:15 am


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