Feedback – to Paulo Politico’s ‘Labour is Ahead'
Feedback – to Paulo Politico’s ‘Labour Ahead in Boundary
Nigel Kearney writes…
published on Spectator.co.nz…
The April 30 article
'Labour Ahead in Boundary Allocations' by Paulo Politico
shows a lack of understanding of MMP.
It's true that
the changes have created a number of safe Labour seats. The
only relevant consideration, however, is the effect this
will have on the party vote.
The argument that a safe
seat gives the candidate more flexibility to campaign for
the party vote ignores the fact that all candidates in that
electorate will be in the same situation. In fact, parties
with a large proportion of list MPs clearly have the
advantage here, since those MPs can focus solely on the
In fact, the changes will hurt Labour due
to reduced voter turnout. A hotly contested electorate
captures the attention of voters resulting in an increased
turnout. The opposite occurs when there is no contest. Many
voters in those electorates will choose to stay home on
election day, and since they are safe Labour seats, the
majority of those who stay home will be Labour voters.
Nigel Kearney – Wellington
Mr Kearney’s reply is consistent
with the ACT Party critique of the new electoral boundaries
– that is that safe seats promote complacency and Labour
voters stay home.
Mr Kearney might not realise this
but Labour overwhelmingly achieves a high party vote in
seats that elect Labour MPs by a wide margin. Labour polled
more than 50 percent of the party vote is safe seats such as
Dunedin South (50.52), Mangere (67.32), Manurewa (51.84) and
Mt Albert (51.37).
By and large the same applies to
the National Party. National achieved a comparatively high
party vote in safe seats such as Clutha-Southland (46.83),
Ilam (42.05), Pakuranga (40.53), and Rakaia (44.97).
A popular local candidate is a flag-bearer for the
party. Once that candidate has built up a track record of
service to a particular community, he or she becomes a
powerful means of generating good will and popularity for
the party. This in term delivers party votes.
course the only way that a candidate can build up local
support is to have enough time to serve a political
apprenticeship. This requires a safe seat that will
consistently elect the candidate time after time. That is
why Labour has a huge advantage holding so many seats at
Your correspondent is deluded if he thinks
that parties with a large proportion of list MPs are at an
advantage. Those list MPs generally have a much lower
profile and seldom have the networks and contacts within an
individual community that an electorate MP enjoys.
Take Dunedin for example. Labour’s electorate MPs –
Pete Hodgson and David Benson-Pope – give the party a very
high profile in the city. They attend the school
prizegivings, the breakfast meetings, the seniors luncheons
and this list goes on. National’s Dunedin-based list MP
Katherine Rich has very little profile and very limited name
recognition. Both Hodgson and Benson-Pope have safe seats
and Dunedin preferred Labour to National by a two-to-one
Your correspondent appears to assume that
voters like list candidates travelling all around the
country pretending to identify with different communities
every three years. Consider this, Act MP Ken Shirley was
once the MP for the South Island seat of Tasman. After a
career outside of politics he returned and stood for the
Wellington seat of Ohariu-Belmont in 1996. In 1999 has
indicated that he would stand in Tauranga and then withdrew
his candidacy. In 2002 he has indicated that he would seek
selection in the Auckland seat of Tamaki.
voters really have much faith in Mr Shirley’s itinerant
style. So how can he be a credible ambassador for ACT in
central Auckland? Regards
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