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Mt Albert – the left and the right

Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, February 24th, 2017 - 80 comments
Categories: by-election, greens, labour - Tags: , , , ,

Today is the last day of campaigning in Mt Albert. Those hoping for a gory Labour Green battle to froth about must be feeling a bit let down:

Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern strike up friendship in Mt Albert

The least bitter rivalry in New Zealand politics has broken out in the Mt Albert by-election, with the two leading candidates striking up a new friendship.

The Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern have been car-pooling to events together and handing out leaflets side by side.

At a debate hosted by the Spinoff website last week, the pair even showed off matching dance moves. …

Bloody infighting lefties eh! A pity that the Nats couldn’t make it to the party:

Final day of campaigning before Mt Albert votes and ‘it’s Jacinda’s election’

Labour leader Andrew Little will join Jacinda Ardern for the last day of campaigning ahead of Saturday’s Mt Albert byelection – with National-leaning voters split on the party’s no-show. …

All the best to all candidates, and thank you to Julie Anne Genter and Jacinda Ardern for showing us all such a model of cooperation.

80 comments on “Mt Albert – the left and the right ”

  1. Ad 1

    Along with Ohariu and others, simply shows that this Labour-Greens government is ready to go.

  2. Enough is Enough 2

    Why don’t the parties merge?

    • weka 2.1

      To what purpose?

      • BM 2.1.1

        I think NZ prefers one large party with a smaller party or individuals making up the numbers, It gives the appearance of stability.

        Currently, with the left, you have no idea what sort of policy is going to come out of a Labour/Greens/NZ First mix, that’s a big turn-off for voters.

        Labour/Greens join and you almost on pair with National, that gives the left tonnes more credibility.

        • lprent

          Why would you want to swallow parties into one party? They have quite different styles and objectives.

          Besides, you never know what National will do. They announce no policy and do stupid ad-hoc policies although thought or effect. See several posts today.

          Then they ignore things that need to be done. Like a shortage of housing, crucial infrastructure, reducing nett inwards migrations, or stopping rivers and.lakes becoming toxic.

          Probably because they are a big coalition inside National

          • BM

            So, would like to see something like 25% Labour 25% Greens? would you consider that the optimum mix?

            • DoublePlusGood

              I’d like to see a Greens (40%) – Mana (15%) coalition, with Labour (30%) being the main centre right opposition party.

              Aaaaanyway, it’s pretty clear what you’ll get out of a Labour Green NZ First mix on the left as they each have pretty clear policies. You can know the level of influence of each party by how much support they get – if NZ First or the Greens got to 15%-20%, then they would have much more influence in policy than if they get 5-10%.

              • red-blooded

                DPG, kindly stop telling lies about Labour. We are a solidly left-wing party. You may see us as “centre left” but there’s a world of difference between that and “right wing”.

                • Sacha

                  If Labour recruiting candidates like Willie Jackson and Greg O’Connor is seen as part of a shift to the right, you can see how people might label that party with the right’s weasel-prefix ‘centre’?

                  • red-blooded

                    You want to say “centre left”, that fine by me. But DPG was saying something quite different.

                    And btw, the left will only be elected if the voters in the centre know that their views and interests are being catered for. Just as ACT is unelectable without National, a party like Mana would only ever be electable in coalition with a centre left party like Labour. That applies at present to the Greens, too. Maybe in the future they will gain further traction with middle NZ – I hope they do, but they know that at present they are best served by a MOU with Labour.

                    All the “I’m more left than you” rubbish doesn’t do anything to help actually progress a left wing agenda. Labour is the party of the left that’s actually been in government and made huge strides for NZers. Yes, it’s also made mistakes and compromises (it’s so much easier to the purist when you’re not actually implementing any of your policies, but politics is about getting things done – that’s its purpose), but the relentlessly negative messaging from some people on this site is unbalanced and unhelpful. No party is above criticism, but there are plenty on the right ready to tear Labour down. That’s not surprising – they know that a strong Labour Party is a threat to their rightwing values and grip on power. How about those who purport to be leftwing try for a more balanced perspective?

                • Adrian Thornton

                  Not enough, unfortunately for us.

        • weka

          “I think NZ prefers one large party with a smaller party or individuals making up the numbers”

          NZ? Did we have a vote or something?

          The Greens and Labour are different parties in many ways. That adds to democracy in NZ. Merging them would lessen it.

    • DoublePlusGood 2.2

      The parties are different in their kaupapa, policies, political positioning and priorities. They’re just working together because they have quite a number of common areas and as a result they are logical coalition partners to form a government.

      • Enough is Enough 2.2.1

        I know that.

        I was throwing the question out there just to see what people thought.

        If you dig into the policies, the parties are quite different and there isn’t really room for a merger.

        It is just the PR campaign with the media is a bit too nice for me and you are left with the impression there are no differences of opinion between the parties. I like to see robust debate.

  3. Rightly or Wrongly 3

    The one mildly interesting question to be answered this Saturday will be what will happen to all the Nat voters who do no have a candidate to support.

    I have seen no polls conducted in Mt Albert so there doesn’t appear to be any indication of what the final result will be apart from a general consensus that Ardern will win easily.

    In relation to the Nat voters I can see one of the following scenarios playing out:

    1 (Most likely) Nat voters will mostly stay at home and not vote. Result will be easy win to Ardern with Genter coming an easy second. Ardern looks good.

    2 Nat voters cast their votes mostly for Genter. This makes Ardern’s win a lot more marginal than what it should be. Ardern gets embarrassed at turning a safe seat marginal and Genter/Greens get kudos for almost pulling off an unlikely victory.

    3 Nat voters cast their votes to a one of the random independents/loonies standing which ends up making the whole by-election a bit of a farce. No one wins out of this scenario – maybe it gives the loony/independent 5 minutes of media glory.

    Obviously in theory there is an option where the Nat’s vote could push Genter across the line and beat Ardern. I don’t see this happening but if it did this would embarrass Ardern/Labour no end and the resultant Green celebration would cause some strain between both parties.

    I await with some interest to the results on Saturday

    • Andre 3.1

      Mt Albert Nats should all go and vote for Penny Bright. If there’s just the right split between Genter and Ardern, Penny might just get over the line. Imagine the lolz.

    • Leftie 3.2

      I get the impression from the following 3min 20sec interview that some Nat supporters at least, let down by National not standing a candidate, are prepared to vote Labour.

      Housing was the number 1 issue.


      Congratulations to Jacinda and Julie Anne, outstanding candidates, that showed how true cooperation really works.

    • bwaghorn 3.3

      Top gets most of the nat vote and some momentum is what i’m suspecting will happen

    • Grantoc 3.4

      I think this by-election is such a non event that most Nat voters won’t even realise that its happening. Few if any in my opinion will be motivated to vote at all.

      They’ed probably rather go to the beach or out to lunch or something similar than bother voting.

      My guess is that there will be a really low turn out overall and the result will be pretty meaningless.

    • Ad 3.5

      Swordfish analysed the scenarios in depth three weeks ago.
      I told Swordfish not to worry.
      I may still have to eat my words.

  4. BM 4

    What a non-event, great tactical move by English and National.

    Mt Albert could have given Greenbour a much-needed boost going into this year’s election, instead, it’s just a yawn fest with minimal coverage.

  5. ianmac 5

    Hang on! If Genter was elected to Parliament this would have an effect on the Green Party wouldn’t it? As with the NZ First by-election.

    • Andre 5.1

      Yes. The Greens would get to fill Genter’s current list position from their list. So there would be one more Green MP, and Labour wouldn’t get a replacement for Shearer, so they would end up down one from last year.

      • Cinny 5.1.1

        If I was voting it would be tactical as, sorry Jacinda. However I’d still vote for a ‘J’

        • Andre

          In practical terms, the choice is really about whether Raymond Huo gets the vacant list position for Labour or (presumably) John Hart* gets to fill the vacant list position for the Greens.

          *I haven’t seen anything that says who would actually come in for the Greens. But after Barry Coates who replaced Kevin Hague, the Greens list goes John Hart, David Kennedy, Jeannette Elley

      • weka 5.1.2

        everytime I think I understand how MMP works something happens to make me realise I don’t.

        If both those parties MP numbers are made up from the list vote, how can the GP numbers go up? If Genter won Mt Albert in a general election would the numbers still go up?

        • Andre

          The party vote determines the allocation of MPs after the election. But then the electorate MPs are sort of conceptually separated from list MPs.

          So if a list MP position becomes vacant, through resignation or death, then the party gets to fill it with the next person on the list (who doesn’t “decline”).

          But if an electorate seat becomes available, then it opens back up to a general contest for anybody, and the result can change the overall numbers of the parties in Parliament. For example, Winny winning Northland meant National went down one MP and NZFirst went up one.

          So when either Julie-Anne or Jacinda wins, she will resign her current list position (like Winny did) to take up her newly-won electorate MP position, leaving a list MP vacancy for her party to fill from their list. Remember, Labour is currently down one MP due to Shearer’s resignation.

        • McFlock

          Short answer: the number of list mps a party gets is determined at the election and remains constant until the next election.

          So if a list MP quits that job (to become an electorate MP, or to leave parliament entirely) they get replaced by another candidate from that party’s list.

          • weka

            Doesn’t that mess up the proportionality though?

            • McFlock

              yup, a little bit.

            • Andre

              It’s not a list MP leaving and getting replaced by another list MP from the same party that messes with proportionality. It’s when an electorate MP leaves and the seat gets won by someone from a different party that changes proportionality.

  6. weka 6

    Don’t forget TOP!


  7. Andre 7

    If there’s a massive unmet hunger on the left for someone way more progressive than Labour or the Greens, then Joe Carolan should end up with a large vote share. After all, there’s no reason for anyone with inclinations like that to vote strategically to keep National out in this by-election, and imagine the message it would send to Labour and the Greens if Joe were to win.

    • Cinny 7.1

      Yesah another ‘J’ candidate, vote for a ‘J’ and Joe is a legend.

    • weka 7.2

      Maybe, but I think we need to be careful about not drawing conclusions from that not happening. I would guess many on the left left won’t vote.

      Also, I’m not sure that Joe Carolan is who the more progressive vote would go for.

      • Andre 7.2.1

        My point is that in this particular election there’s absolutely no downside in voting exactly the way you want. It’s the perfect time to vote for someone that really represents your views without compromise, or for sending a protest vote message.

        So if there really is a massive rejection of liberalism on the part of voters motivated enough to actually go and vote, as often gets asserted here, then we should see it in the results of the by election. If we don’t see it in the results, then assertions of a widespread rejection of liberalism will look more like blowing smoke than anything else.

        • McFlock

          good point.

        • weka

          I agree with your first paragraph wholeheartedly.

          The second one though, did you read my comment? Your argument ignores both the non-vote and the fact that people who don’t want L/G are less likely to vote.

          • Andre

            But if someone with strong political opinions isn’t interested enough to come out and vote to express their views in the clearest possible way in a by-election, why is there reason to believe they will vote in a general election where they will either have to swallow dead rats to vote for a nearest-to-their-views-but-might-win candidate, or waste their time voting for a not-a-chance-of-winning principle candidate?

            • weka

              More people vote in the GE than by-elections.

              But I think your point is more that why should Labour or the Greens move left if the people that supposedly want a more left wing party don’t vote. Seems a fair point to me. I did like Willie Jackson’s ideas the other day about the electoral commission being more proactive in getting out the non-vote, esp with regards to age issues. However it needs the govt to support that and we won’t get that with RW or Centrist parties, who don’t want disenfranchised people voting. Catch 22.

              • Andre

                That’s where I’d really like to see a party to the left of Labour and the Greens. But if that part of the electorate is so small it relies on a Jim Anderton or Hone Harawira to win a seat to survive, it’s hard to see how that can be viable long term.

                • weka

                  Best move would be to abolish the 5% threshold.

                  edited to add, by definition left left politics is going to be less well resourced on a number of levels. The 5% threshold is discriminatory in that sense.

  8. Cinny 8

    Hey there classy ‘J’ ladies, I love your work so much, really impressed. All best to two of the most intelligent switched on women in NZ politics. Mt Albert will be very lucky to have either of you as their MP.

    Fantastic campaigning ladies. Well done to you both 😀

  9. Leftie 9

    There doesn’t appear to be that much coverage of the by election by the media, why is that?

  10. Michael 10

    So far, the “cooperation” consists of the Greens conceding to Labour whatever the latter wants. We’ll see how well the rapprochement works when Labour gives up something for the Greens.

    • Leftie 10.1

      Despite your negative reservations, I am impressed with how the Labs and Greens are working together to change the government. Some people got annoyed when the Greens stood for Mt Albert, but look at how both parties have embraced each other in the campaign. If that doesn’t give you some hope, then I don’t know what will.

      [lprent: How does this explain your understanding of our policies? Read my note at https://thestandard.org.nz/kaupapa-pakeha/#comment-1303434 ]

      • Leftie 10.1.1

        Have already replied to you and Weka.

        • red-blooded

          Go back and have another look, Lefty. I think you’re being asked to explicitly agree that you’ll comply with the rules of the site.

          • Leftie

            I said yes, and that I understood.

            • BM

              Apologise for attacking Weka otherwise, the chances of you getting the boot are quite low odds

              • Leftie

                Don’t start BM. I asked for a explanation, and I certainly had not meant it as a personal attack. It has been explained to me, in detail, and I have acknowledged that, and agreed to comply.

                • weka

                  I don’t mind people asking. I prefer that over being attacked. But it would be good if people got it enough to look after the site as well.

              • lprent

                She isn’t particularly vindictive about repeat offenders. On the other hand I certainly am.

    • Bearded Git 10.2


      You just make this stuff up. Troll activity.

      • Michael 10.2.1

        No, actually. I expressed my opinion, based on my observations. Unlike some posters here, I’m not out to kiss arse in the hope of scoring the baubles of office. I’d really like to see a Greens/Labour government in office, although I recognise one is most unlikely. Still, I challenge you to provide an example where Labour made any concession to the Greens, since they announced their collaboration, that is anywhere near the magnitude of the Greens’ concessions to Labour.

  11. swordfish 11

    My woefully unfinished backgrounder to the Mt Albert By-Election …


    • mickysavage 11.1

      Thanks SF

      I agree with your conclusion. My personal view is that the seat is a beacon for progressives in large part because it has been so well organised over the reign of one Helen Clark. She never forgot the locals and fought to maintain an electorate organisation that was second to none. What she set is a standard that the rest of the country should aspire to.

      • Anne 11.1.1

        Actually it goes back further than HC mickysavage. The preceding MP, Warren Freer who presided over Mt. Albert for 33 years is the person who consolidated the seat for Labour. The Labour organisation Helen inherited was one of the – if not the – strongest in the country. Even so, Warren nearly lost in 1975 due to the massive election bribe (Muldoon’s superannuation scheme) which we are still paying the price for… 40 plus years later. Helen Clark’s 26 odd years was a continuation of that previous consolidation and it is to her credit she also maintained the strong local organisation.

        One of the reasons I think the electorate still maintains a Labour majority (despite gentrification) is because up until recent years it had a reputation for being one of the ‘second class’ Auckland suburbs. This was in part due to a large state housing area known as the Stuart Estate and the majority of the rest of the populace also came from a working-class background. It’s changing now but political habits perhaps take a bit longer to change.

        • lprent

          The seat isn’t exactly what it was. In the old days it was pretty much around Mt Albert, Sandringham, Pt Chev, Owairaka etc. In other words my old stamping grounds as a child and teen.

          There days it goes from my place (I actually live in Mt Albert again) by the corner of K Rd / Ponsonby Road / Newton Road what used to be Newt on but is now referred to as Grey Lynn. It goes from Grey Lynn out to Avondale and almost into New Lynn. That is because the electorate is almost 2.5-3x the population these days.

          The nature of the electorate pretty well changed in the 1990s when the infill housing went in.

          • Anne

            In other words my old stamping grounds as a child and teen.

            Mine too. The enlarged electorates were introduced around the same time as MMP were they not? Even so, the extra areas you have mentioned were mostly working class areas up until relatively recently. As I said, old habits die hard.

            • lprent

              The big change was with MMP. The electorates jumped from having a voting age population of about 22k voters to about 40k. But since then it has steadily increased to now be around 54k

              Yep old habits and local organisations die hard. But there are changes in emphasis. We used to concentrate on enhancing the party vote while maintaining the electorate vote. I think that emphasis has changed.

              What has been noticeable recently is the decreasing party vote for Labour coupled with a solid electorate vote for the Labour MP. The demographics have changed, but it means it means that unless they refocus, the local party vote will start collapsing as well.

              However it won’t be this weekend. Phone canvassing this morning before work in the after noon.

    • lprent 12.1

      It sounds like having a bob each way. However it turns out he can say “I was right”.

      But it also is somewhat daft because it shows no knowledge of the electorate and is instead a mindless exercise in unrealistic game theory.

      In other words, stupidly smart(arse) with no relationship to reality.

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