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Left needs to unite in Supercity race

Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, July 24th, 2009 - 55 comments
Categories: activism, auckland supercity, democratic participation, local government - Tags:

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.

55 comments on “Left needs to unite in Supercity race”

  1. Zaphod Beeblebrox 1

    Even under Hide’s Bill (which will be modified), ultimate power will rest with the council. The mayor will set an agenda but not have the final say. Who gets elected (and has the numbers) to the new council is much more important. Local issues will be important.
    BTW- Is Kerry Predergast right wing and unpopular? Not from what I have read.

    • Derek 1.1

      She’s right-wing, National Party member and has been tipped in the past as a future list MP. The Blumsky fiasco may have put a dampner on that.

      In Wellington she’s limited by the fact she’s a right-winger in a left-leaning electorate, kind of like Arnie in California. She doesn’t seem to push a hard right agenda, just lets the property developers have free reign and approaches issues through her National-tinted glasses. Comes from the liberal end of the party.

      As for unpopular, she seems to poll around the 30-35% mark and has never had a majority. Her advantage has been that a) the Dominion Post loves her, b) she gets massive funding from property developers where the left has nothing, and c) the left usually fragments itself by standing three or four candidates.

      • jagilby 1.1.1

        So what you’re saying is that she is still more popular than any individual left-wing candidate….

        • snoozer

          yes, because the Left fragments itself while the Right doesn’t put up other strong candidates.

          • jagilby

            Because the “right”, in all its splintered self interested glory, is so organised when it comes to local body elections that it would ENSURE only its strongest candidate stood?

            • Draco T Bastard

              Yep, it’s an interesting aspect of the anti-collectivists just how collectivist they actually are.

            • jagilby

              Draco I’d love to find out what you’re on… I’ve gotta get some of it.

  2. Len Brown’s campaign has a strong underlying logic to it. He will get a huge amount of support from the South, and if he campaigns well in the west, the North will be anti Banks and there is a significant minority in Auckland City who would rather vote for a ded opossum than for Banks.

    For him to be even with Banks now even though few outside of Manukau know him is a great result. Imagine what could happen with a good campagn?

    Banks must be quivering in his boots.

    • jagilby 2.1

      “He will get a huge amount of support from the South”

      Made preliminary bookings for the vans and shuttle buses yet?

      • Derek 2.1.1

        It’s quite revealing how much the Right hates the idea of the poor and the infirm being assisted to the polling booth to cast their vote. They’d much rather the rich went and voted as usual and the poor remained disenfranchised.

        • jagilby

          Well… I didn’t realise that I could speak for the “Right” as a singluar entity.

          It’s more that I hate to think of the indoctrination of what, I’m sure we can agree, are vulnerable minds that is likely to occur in transit to the polling booth. In other words, I am appalled at the exploitation of the poor.

          • mickysavage


            The poor voting for the party that actually cares about them?

            How undemocratic.

            And how patronising. Wealth is not an indicator of intelligence.

            • jagilby

              “The poor voting for the party that actually cares about them?”

              Only if you believe that caring about someone involves resigning them and everyone else to State welfare dependence.

              If that’s not patronising I don’t know what is.

  3. toad 3

    Good strategy Marty. I’ll be doing my best to get Green Party buy-in.

  4. ghostwhowalks 4

    What is it about Manukau mayors that they seem to be so long winded !

    My guess is that Banks will get somebody like Crosby Twitter to select the issues that can be inflamed.
    A local version of the Free Speech Coalition or have the gone into abeyance now they support dictators ?

  5. vidiot 5

    Is Len Browns reconditioned ‘ticker’ up to the rigors of the job ?

    The last thing you want to do to anyone is push them to an early grave.

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    Mr Brown does seem to be an impressive figure.

    I do wonder, however, about the motives of UMR to release this information. On what basis did UMR decide to conduct a poll on the super mayoralty? Was this poll question paid for, or suggested by Mr Brown, the Labour Party, or anybody associated with either Mr Brown or the Labour Party?

    This poll is already being used to advance Mr Brown’s cause as the left-wing candidate for Mayor ahead of Mike Lee. Given UMR’s long-standing relationship with the Labour Party, I think it’s reasonable to ask if there was a politically-inspired motivation to conduct the poll in the first place. If there was, there should be a disclosure as to who paid for the poll. If Mr Brown or the Labour Party or somebody associated with either paid for this poll question, would the results of the poll have been released if they weren’t favourable towards Mr Brown?

    • Maynard J 6.1

      Attack the messenger eh. guess that is what to do when you do not like the message, but can not point out anything wrong with it.

      “I think it’s reasonable to ask if there was a politically-inspired motivation to conduct the poll in the first place”

      Well it probably was not run for economic, law and order or entertainment purposes, given it was a political poll and all.

      “If there was, there should be a disclosure as to who paid for the poll.”

      Why? Unless you think that it was rigged or biased somehow, it would seem an irrelevancy.

      “If Mr Brown or the Labour Party or somebody associated with either paid for this poll question, would the results of the poll have been released if they weren’t favourable towards Mr Brown?”

      Chances are. that is what happens all the time. Any evidence that they did pay for the poll? Or is it a “if Tim was in fact beating his wife, would a jail sentence be appropriate” type of (begging the) question?

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        Maynard J, the entire exclusive brethren were pilloried because they were dishonest about the fact they were behind promotional material against the green and labour parties. Not because of the information they distributed. The electoral finance bill was meant to make sure there was good disclosure of who was behind political messages.

        I am not saying it was biased or rigged. UMR have high research standards and the quality of their research is good, by all accounts. The question is, is the Labour Party or Mr Brown associated with the poll question, and if so, would the poll question have been used as a promotional tool for Mr Brown if the result had not been favourable for Mr Brown? Would the information be released if it didn’t support Mr Brown’s case?

        • toad

          Tim Ellis said: …the entire exclusive brethren were pilloried because they were dishonest about the fact they were behind promotional material against the green and labour parties. Not because of the information they distributed.

          At least in the case of the Greens, it was also becasue of the information they delivered – because most of it was lies or half-truths. And the timing was such that the Green Party had no time to prepare defensive campaign material in response to clarify their policies.

          • Tim Ellis

            As I remember it, toad, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about the contents of the Exclusive Brethren’s claims. Almost all of the commentary was about the secrecy of who was behind their pamphlets.

    • felix 6.2

      Why don’t you ask UMR, Tim?

      If you really wanted to know, surely that would be the way to find out.

      Of course if you just wanted to stir shit and muddy the discussion, you could hang out on blogs and say you want to know and pose meaningless hypotheticals which is what you’ve been doing since yesterday evening.

      Ooh, I think that might be it.

      • Tim Ellis 6.2.1

        So in your view, Felix, whenever somebody challenges the motivation of any public statement, the appropriate avenue is to go and ask the person making the statement directly?

        I’ll remember that next time you raise questions about what John Key says.

        • The Voice of Reason

          C’mon, Tim, Felix said nothing of the sort. He suggested you contact UMR if you were keen to find out the reason for the poll. Why don’t you ring them and let us know what you find out, eh?

          I don’t care who commisioned it or why. It’s an interesting result, no matter who is paying the bill. Hell, it might even be ACT, given Gobsmacked’s news downthread. The point is that the declared candidate, John Banks, currently the Mayor of the central part of the proposed council and the man most likely according to just about every report I’ve ever seen on the matter, has come second to a person who is not even running yet.

          Take comfort that it was a reasonably small poll, Tim. Less than 500 voters, I recall, so probably about as rough as a rough guide gets.

        • felix

          Of course I didn’t say that Tim and you know it.

          I said that if you’re genuinely interested in finding out, then ask them (which you’re not, and you won’t).

          If you think there’s political mileage to be made by pretending to be interested, then just spend a few days blowing on about it here (which is what you’re doing).

          Nice to see you back on the day shift too. Boss still doesn’t mind you blogging all day? Oh that’s right.

    • Conspiracy alert, conspiracy alert.

      Poll may have been paid for by lefties.

      Attack the messenger in the hope the message will be forgotten.

      • Tim Ellis 6.3.1

        No micky the message is pretty clear. Len Brown has more support on the left than any other candidate.

        The question is, if that hadn’t been the result of the research, would this research have ever come to light? Was the poll paid for by the Labour Party, or Mr Brown, or somebody associated with either?

        I would be just as sceptical about the motivation for publishing a poll that indicated John Banks was the preferred candidate of the right, if there was no context about who commissioned the research.

          • Tim Ellis

            Goodness me, Derek. You’ve got me. I really am John Banks.

            It is a slick effort from Mr Brown however, if he is associated with the poll. He has very good standing in the Labour Party, and no doubt his lending the very competent Conor Roberts to Mr Shearer during the Mt Albert campaign helped Mr Shearer immensely.

            Is Mr Roberts still working for Mr Brown?

            • felix

              Gee you know a lot of political operators for a lowly internal bank auditor, Tim.

              I still find it weird how you can just blog all day, every day and your boss doesn’t mind.

            • Tim Ellis

              You have an obsession about me and my boss Felix, although I have given a pretty narrow definition of where I work. Far more disclosure than you have given. Why are you so sensitive Felix?

              Maybe it’s been a tough week for you. It will be good for you to relax this weekend and forget about what a horrible few days Mr Goff has had.

            • bill brown

              The desperation from Tim over the last few weeks has become more and more palpable.

              Wassamater Tim – your bosses complaining you’re not pulling your weight?

            • felix

              No one cares who you are Tim. We’ve long ago established that. And what I have to do with Goff I don’t know – I might as well ask you how you’re feeling about Michael Jackson.

              Out of curiosity though, and seeing as you don’t much seem to want to address anything else at the moment, what does your boss think about you spending the majority of every working day blogging?

              I can’t say I’d be too pleased. It’s like stealing really.

  7. It’s an interesting point and I can the logic from a left perspective.

    It’s also an interesting trend to see local government politics become more defined along national politics. This is markedly more now than say 20 or 30 years ago.

    It leads to some interesting dynamics as regional interests can often be at conflict with national interests.

    The debate now seems mired along party lines rather than what’s best for Auckland and particularly NZ which was the reason *Labour* instigated the original supercity proposal.

  8. You are correct that for Auckland, it will help the left to have just one candidate for Mayor (assuming FPP).

    But you are incorrect in asserting Kerry won only because of a split vote, because the last two elections she won were under STV. The problem wasn’t that there were several candidates from the left against her. The problem was none of them were preferred enough over her.

    When I say problem, I mean problem for those who don’t like Kerry. She was my first preference no surprise]

    • snoozer 8.1

      If there was one strong Left candidate in Welly rather than 4 then they might beat her

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.1.1

        That might apply for FFP but makes no sense under STV. The “Left” vote can’t have been that united if the preferences from the lowest polling left candidates leaked accross to her.
        It all shows what a nonsense labelling people this-wing or that -wing because of who their friends are and their perceived biases.
        I guess it makes it easier for the simple minded, but you really need to look at what people do in power.
        A lot of Europeans would regard Obama as right-wing due to the bank bail out and Scwartznegger a left wing tree hugger. Ideology means very little.

    • jarbury 8.2

      Apparently a lot of people have suggested STV as the prefered voting method for selecting the mayor, Auckland Council and even the local boards. I did in my submission to the select committee.

      I think Len Brown would make an excellent Super-City Mayor.

    • felix 8.3

      You are correct that for Auckland, it will help the left to have just one candidate for Mayor (assuming FPP).

      But you are incorrect in asserting Kerry won only because of a split vote, because the last two elections she won were under STV. The problem wasn’t that there were several candidates from the left against her. The problem was none of them were preferred enough over her.

      When I say problem, I mean problem for those who don’t like Kerry. She was my first preference no surprise]



  9. Relic 9

    ‘Wodney’ was reported on RNZ at mid day saying that none of the existing Auckland region mayors are suitable candidates for the Super City mayoralty, that a new face is required. Banksie will love that.

    • Indeed. Either this is a pre-emptive strike on Mr Brown, the UMR poll having spooked Mr Hide, or he has a sense of what he wants, which, presumably, is not an existing mayor with experience and public recognition, but what? A Jenny Shipley, a Ruth Richardson, a Don Brash? Now I come to think of it, Mrs Shipley is taking a high profile at the moment………

      • toad 9.1.1

        Jenny must be angling for an appointment to a Commission of some sort. Guess if it’s good enough for Christine and Don…

        • Daveski

          In fairness toad (and your comments normally are), Labour did write the manual on appointing mates and matesses to boards and the like.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Labour did write the manual

            That’s the oldest book on the shelf innit? Pretty sure it predates the Labour movement let alone the Labour party. 🙂

        • lukas

          and Cullen?

          Toad, did you go on about the appointment of friends by Labour when they were in power?

  10. Zaphod Beeblebrox 10

    Dick Hubbard came on from the outside. he was very well meaning and had good credentials. Unfortunately his unfamiliarity with the political process (and Bruce Hucker) shanghaied him. I can’t see Rodney getting what he wants- unless Bolger, Shipley, McKinnon want to subject themselves. BTW Helen Clark would have been excellent.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Yes, Radio NZ reports:

    “Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says none of the current mayors in the Auckland region is right to lead the new super-city.

    He told an Auckland audience a new face would be best to lead the new council because it would be invigorating and bring a fresh perspective.”

    Hide is not gaffe-prone, he usually says what he means. So that’s going to hurt Banks. Plenty of NACT in-fighting to come, I reckon.

    • toad 11.1

      A Minister wading into local politics and passing comment on who should or should not be a local Mayor has to be a gaffe in itself.

      • The Voice of Reason 11.1.1

        Crikey, you don’t think Rodders fancies a second job, do you?

        • jarbury

          Hey if Sam Lotu Iiga can still pull off being an Auckland City Councillor and an MP maybe Rodney thinks he can be a government minister AND the Auckland super-mayor?

      • gobsmacked 11.1.2

        Good point, Toad. It’s another of those to file under “used to be outrageous, but now we’re getting so much of this, we barely notice any more”.

        But will it get the usual free pass from the media? I suspect so.

  12. Deep Throat 13

    I see John Banks is having a go at the UMR poll putting him one point behind.

    Funny – I don’t remember him having a go at this poll putting him in the lead: http://www.3news.co.nz/National/Story/tabid/423/articleID/100568/Default.aspx

    Rattled? Yes.

    And then your ACT mate Hide comes in and puts the boot in. Not a good week for the National mayoral candidate.

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