A UMR poll out yesterday suggests that Len Brown, currently mayor of Manukau, would be the Left candidate with the best chance of winning the mayoralty of the Auckland Supercity next year. The poll has Brown on 35% ahead of John Banks on 34% – but with margin of error, all that can be said is public support for the two is probably very close. That’s in contrast to a match up between Mike Lee (chairman of the Auckland Regional Council) and Banks, where Banks has 35% to Lee’s 18%.
The poll shows Banks is a polarising figure – even against a less well-known/popular figure like Lee, Banks’ support didn’t increase. There’s also talk around the traps that people on the Right are also pissed off with the way Banks has been swanning around as if he is the inevitable front-runner for the Right and destined to be mayor. Other high profile right-wingers may stand too. The poll and those divisions mean it’s far from sown up for Banks; the right Left-wing candidate could win.
What is important is that the Left vote is not hopelessly split. You only need to look to Wellington where the unpopular right-wing mayor, Kerry Prendergast, keeps on winning despite a low level of support (she was the first preference of just 35% of voters) because the Left vote is split between too many candidates. The super-mayoralty is too important for that to be allowed to happen in Auckland.
The solution? A coalition of left-wing groups – unions, parties, City Vision, environmental groups etc – should be formed to hold a series of debates between aspiring left-wing candidates. On the basis of a floor vote at those debates, a single Left candidate would be endorsed. There would be nothing to stop other aspirants from standing but the organisations would agree to only lend their significant campaign capacity to the candidacy of the endorsed candidate and there would be scope for unsuccessful aspirants to run for council seats on the same ticket.
This is a winner take all game. Either the major Left candidate or the major Right candidate will win. And the winner will have a powerful say over Auckland’s future. It’s not a time for infighting and glorious defeats.