From the start of the Labour leadership contest, Cunliffe has been the man to beat. In the one scientific poll, he was favoured to lead by 30% of the population, Jones by 11%, Robertson by 10%. He’s been seen as having the strongest member and union backing from the start. The ipredict money has been solidly Cunliffe all the way. Robertson needed a blinder in the roadshow. And that means the media fascination with Jones is hurting Robertson the most.
The journos are bored. They want an ugly fight and, instead, they’re getting a civilised debate (and all the hyperbolic Tracy Watkins headlines in the world can’t change that). So, the attention has focused on the loosest cannon, the one most likely to do something crazy – Jones.
That has deprived both the other candidates of as much coverage as they might otherwise have got, but that lack hurts Robertson more. A stuff online survey (I know, I know, but it’s at least some data) yesterday, which I now can’t find, had Cunliffe at 50%, Jones at 30%, Robertson at 20%. Put crudely, once the other contenders and the ‘someone else’ option that featured in the earlier Colmar Brunton poll were gone, both Cunliffe and Jones got 20% of the 50% up for grabs and Robertson just 10%. Robertson is just not making the impression he needs to make.
The irony is that Jones was regarded by some (who appeared not to understand that in preferential voting you can’t have spoiler candidates) as a spoiler against Cunliffe who would take some of the Maori and Pasifika working class support away from him. Instead, he’s crowding Robertson out of the media coverage he desperately needs while failing to appeal to the working class (he hasn’t even joined Cunliffe and Robertson in backing the living wage for government workers).
Which reminds me of another stuff online poll from yesterday, which I also can’t find now! It asked if the living wage policy would make you more likely to vote Labour – a stunning 66% said ‘yes’.
I think the Nats probably put their foot in it with their opposition to that one. The sight of rich white men saying that the world would end if the poor Pasifika women who clean their toilets got paid enough to live on left a bad taste in people’s mouths. When you’re the party of exploitation and the capitalist elite, it doesn’t do to be too obvious about it.
I reckon the fact that another Labour policy has strong public support is also further confirmation that the only missing ingredient for Labour has been a credible candidate for PM. And, that will be fixed in about 10 days.