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Warning bells ringing for Nats

Written By: - Date published: 5:23 pm, December 1st, 2013 - 36 comments
Categories: by-election 2013, election 2014 - Tags:

On Thursday Vernon Small wrote on the Chch East by-election: “Anything above 53 per cent will look like a fine result for Labour, anything under 50 per cent a relative failure. If Doocey can attract 40 per cent of the vote National can be well-pleased. Less than 33 per cent and the warning bells will be ringing for 2014.” And we know what happened next.

Poto Williams rocketed home with a massive 61% of the vote – above the vote share that Liane Dalziel achieved. National’s Mathew Doocey managed only a pathetic 26% – well below Aaron Gilmore’s effort.

National would be right to worry about what this means. It’s a little known fact that the number of people who voted National fell everywhere in the country except Christchurch in 2011 and it was the most significant area where Labour lost votes. Retaining votes in that city is absolutely crucial for National to have any chance in 2014; likewise, Labour needs to win those votes back.

The signs from this by-election aren’t good for the Tories. A 10% decline in support for the candidate, with nearly all of that moving over to Labour.

Fundamentally, it seems that the people of Christchurch gave National a chance in 2011 and that chance has expired. In a typical post-disaster response, they gave the ruling party an endorsement to get on with the job of rebuilding… but it didn’t happen.

Gerry Brownlee is awful, just bloody awful. He isn’t up to the job of being vice-roy and it shows in his frequent outbursts and, more importantly, in the grindingly slow pace of the rebuild. He hasn’t solved any of the major barriers to rebuilding and all he can do is hurl insults around.

The best thing National could do to stop bleeding support in Christchurch is sack Brownlee. If there were any other Nats of any seniority in the city, they would have the job. But there aren’t. So, maybe the answer, instead, is to give the resource and power to the council. That would show that National believes in the people of Christchurch and is backing them to rebuild their city as they choose.

It won’t happen, of course, National hates local government, especially when it represents the people, not business interests. So, Christchurch is stuck with Brownlee and National’s failures. But, through that pain, comes good because it is building the momentum for a change of government.

36 comments on “Warning bells ringing for Nats”

  1. Dan1 1

    Fascinating how the MSM have little to say about the result. It is as if there was no byelection. If the trend had slightly favoured the Nacts, it would have been headlines.

  2. Zorr 2

    I have noticed that a lot of the Nat supporters I have run in to over the last day have been using the lines of “it was a safe Labour seat anyway” as if that negates the result achieved.

    Poto did brilliantly, Doocey was nowhere to be found and if this is a sign of the year to come for National, then it raises the chances that Lab+Grn won’t need anyone else come next Xmas.

    As much as the final term of the previous Labour government was a shambles, they never had anything like this and it was the built up baggage of 3 terms that did them in. Should we just expect that John Key leaves for home in Hawaii over Xmas and never returns? :)

    • rob 2.1

      Hope so
      It is his home after all
      Can he take that awful Joyce with him?

    • Tracey 2.2

      ““it was a safe Labour seat anyway”

      Which is what National was working so hard to spin prior to the by-election because the Nats must have known a big loss was coming. Traditionally a red seat in 2011 national won the party vote which may suggest it was the person (Dalziel) rather than her party that appealled. It is unusual for nat voters to not vote so it remains an interesting barometer.

    • David H 2.3

      So maybe Doocey was relying on the ‘Brita Futur’ that JK was campaigning on back in 11, to get him in.

  3. Dumrse 3

    It doesn’t take much to get you all excited does it. Just remember the best laughs get downloaded and there should be no doubt they will come back to haunt you when your tide turns.

    • David H 3.1

      Then it seems we will be having belly laughs, at your ‘best laughs’ for weeks to come.

  4. Phaedrus 4

    Don’t disregard the affects of Hekia’s attacks on Christchurch schooling.

  5. Wayne 5

    Good points Eddie Lets hope this result gives them a dose of reality. Now the Labour party needs to come on strong and show the way!

  6. mjoy 6

    Just watched the story on TV1 they managed to turn the result into an advertisement for the Conservatives! Typical MSM.

  7. idlegus 7

    same with tv3, “they got a whopping 3%!!!”…

  8. red blooded 8

    It’s great to see evidence if local activism and the party organising effectively to get out the vote. We’ll hear plenty of commentary talking about low voter turn-out over the next few days, but by-elections always have low turnout, especially when people are disaffected with the predicted winner. Poto did very well in the interviews that I saw and in particular she was careful to emphasise that it was a real contest and that nothing could be assumed.

    There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before the general election, though. It’s good to get encouragement but it’s certain still going to be a real contest. The gov will be crowing about surpluses, warning about business confidence, cutting ACC levies and what’s the bet there’ll be some kind of tax sweetener thrown into the mix? They’re not riding as high as they were, but they’re not dead in the water either.

  9. dave 9

    if slippery is going to do the bolt it will be very early next year i still think his ego will not allow him to be branded a loser we already seeing alot of the born to rules doing the bolt born to rule do not like oposition where you need some skill and not just be a sneering git!

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    The NATs will throw the kitchen sink into next year. Thay’ll play dirty on one end, and ply the electorate with sweeteners and give-aways on the other.

    I’m still stunned that they didn’t do the $3.4M compensation for the Pike River families. It would have completely changed the narrative of the Tories being hard hearted pro-corporates and would literally have won NZers back around to John Key. Instead, the NATs fucked it.

    LAB has a very long way to go however.

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      Maybe National does have principles after all?

    • AmaKiwi 10.2

      Organize. Organize. Organize. Feet on the ground and voices on the phones win elections.

      But it is up to each electorate. The CHC East Labour people know how it is done and will do it again. But Labour and Greens have a lot of electorates with very few party workers and little experience in how to organize.

      If the Left don’t organize, we can easily lose.

  11. rhinocrates 11

    Of course they have principles. They have lots of them, and they put a very high value on them too, being determined to sell as many of them as possible to the highest bidders.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    So, maybe the answer, instead, is to give the resource and power to the council. That would show that National believes in the people of Christchurch and is backing them to rebuild their city as they choose.

    You’re talking about the party that took democracy out of Canterbury when it sacked ECan so I think it’s reasonable to assume that National don’t trust Cantaberians (or any body who isn’t in the clique) to actually rule themsleves. National are authoritarians and they really, really, don’t believe that people can actually rule themselves and that they must have leaders – leaders aligned with National Party ideology of course.

    • vto 12.1

      Labour are the same Draco. Labour don’t believe people can actually make decisions about their own lives. They believe people need leaders. Just watch the comments around here whenever the subject of referendums arises.

      But, yea, Christchurch was already heading well left before the earthquakes. Recall Bob Parker was on a hiding to nothing by Jim Anderton in the pending Mayoral election – then the earthquakes began to roll through and everyone reverted to the incumbent, no matter who goober was. And so we ended up with the double-goober show – Parker and Brownlee.

      But now it is all becoming crystal clear – That Nats have just looked down and realised they are woefully out from the shore and on very thin ice.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1

        Labour don’t believe people can actually make decisions about their own lives. They believe people need leaders. Just watch the comments around here whenever the subject of referendums arises.

        Yeah, I know. It’s so irritating that so many have so little faith in their fellow man. They’ve all bought in to the BS spread by the capitalists about mob rule.

        • Crunchtime

          Labour have lost their moorings somewhat in this regard. Supposed to be about representing the workers, not “knowing what’s best” for the workers.

          Not nearly as “nanny state” as the Nats, but still…

  13. swordfish 13

    Absolutely Stunning result – this is one occasion when I’m happy to be proven wrong (I was pretty convinced it was gonna be a very tight contest indeed – and Me, the bloke who so accurately predicted the 2010 Mana result !!! What’s the world coming too ?).

    Vernon Small’s percentage-support-criteria is, of course, utterly wrong.(It’s a great shame that a number of senior journos continue to be profoundly influenced by a series of carefully-contrived soundbytes emanating from Farrar and the Nat Party hierarchy. Even to the extent that – as in the 2010 Mana by-election – they’re still treating the candidate-vote at the previous general election for the retiring Labour MP as if it represented support for a Labour government). The reality is that, in a one-vote by-election, the core motivation underlying people’s vote-choice is much closer to the party-vote than the candidate-vote. Hence, anything above 32% (Lab’s 2011 party-vote in CE), rather than Small’s 53%, looks like “a fine result for Labour”. And hence anything below 46% (Nat’s 2011 party-vote in CE), as opposed to Small’s 33%, will have “the warning bells” ringing for National in 2014.

    Let’s be clear, largely as a result of the post-quake exodus, CE became a fundamentally National seat in 2011. It was a Dalziel stronghold, not a “Labour” stronghold. That’s why this result is so extraordinary.

  14. Philj 14

    I hope you are right Swordfish. I heard Gerry Brownlee, on the by election, as I can recall say, “Labour won but, but National certainly didn’t lose”. Is he really the best wwe can do? It explains a lot. Dictated to by idiots. Hope Labour have some real talent, and not muppets.

    • Tracey 14.1

      He also said National was “very pleased” with its result. Continuing the deception that this was a safe labour seat.

      Watch the asset sales turn into sweeteners… and watch the lolly scramble critics stay quiet while it happens.

  15. Craig Y 15

    As for the Con showing, two things strike me about the Christchurch East by-election. One, Christchurch East contains New Brighton, and that suburb has traditionally been Christchurch’s ‘bible belt’ (although its malignant potential effect is submerged in a more mainstream sea of red). Two, according to Elections NZ, New Zealand First didn’t stand a candidate. Given that we know that the Cons and Winston are scrapping over who gets the religious social conservative populist vote, if that had been the case, the result might have been more realistic for the Cons.

  16. Sanctuary 16

    I would be worried about the turn-out.

    National’s relentless attack on democracy – the failure of ministers from the PM down to front in the media to explain their decisions, the near continuous attacks on local government, the arrogating of extraordinary powers to the centre on all sorts of issues from resource consents to water management to RoNs, the abuse of parliamentary process – seems to have created an ambient feeling that democracy is a waste of time that could seriously suppress the vote next year. Let’s face it – a 70% turnout would be an indictment of our democracy, and a triumph for National party strategy.

    • Tracey 16.1

      Perhaps, but usually those who always turn out are blue voters, so it is also a big worry for national that their apparent based voted, gulp, labour?

  17. Papa Tuanuku 17


    “PM unfazed by anything”

    • ghostwhowalksnz 17.1

      I think ‘unfazed’ is the journalists meme. I dont think its a direct quote.

      Anyway, google has 800,000 hits for ‘Justin Bieber unfazed’

  18. Crunchtime 18

    Interesting – linked to this article on Facebook, came up “Waning bells ringing”. As does the URL. Still makes sense though…

    Waning are the Nat’s fortunes indeed.

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