Kris Fa’aofi is working seven days a week campaigning throughout Mana. Reports say he is being backed up by very energetic local members who have beaten all their targets for deliveries and canvassing.
Hekia Parata seems to only turn up to act like a jerk in the debates and attend fundraisers. To raise her profile, the government has given her patsy questions to ask and she moves seats in Parliament to try to get on camera more. Really impressive stuff, Hekia.
Meanwhile, John Key’s out there a couple of days a week. National knows that this by-election is about National’s economic record, just as the general election next year will be. They’re trying to see if Key’s personal abilities (high-fiving schoolgirls, playing with spiders, mangling simple sentences, smiling, and waving) are enough to blind the public to the economic realities in front of them.
In contrast, the Labour leadership does not seem to be taking this by-election as an opportunity to push their issues on the national stage. We’re not seeing Phil Goff and Fa’afoi announcing anything significant in terms of policy or direction for the election next year
In other words, National is running this far more as a dry run for the national campaign next year, which is what many had expected Labour to do. Instead, Labour is running a campaign focused on the candidate and local issues (with a bit of over-emphasis on the local credentials, eh Kris?).
I’m not saying that Labour’s approach is wrong at all. It reflects a belief that the way to win votes next year won’t be Goff vs Key on the national stage but strong local candidates and strong campaigns speaking to the voters one-on-one.
Labour believes it has good candidates and the ability to do the work at ground level, while National knows its only asset is Key and he is going to have to drag in the votes for useless candidates like Parata if he’s to get a second term.
And let’s not forget Matt McCarten. His campaign is national-focused. It’s about putting left-wing issues back on the national stage using Mana as a microcosm for what s happening to working families across the country. It’s working – he’s generated more positive national coverage for his issues than the other candidates. And, despite the denial, the rumours are still running that this is the prelude to a new party in the space vacated by the Alliance/Progressives.
[Bunji: I’d certainly describe Matt’s campaign as “insurgent”. He seems to be home in Auckland a lot, but those strikes he hits on his raids down south are impressive…]