- Date published:
7:49 am, January 26th, 2017 - 103 comments
Categories: election 2017, elections, labour, MMP - Tags: claire trevett, Deborah Russell, granny herald, Greg Presland, mickeysavage, new lynn, stuff
Greg Presland has been daft enough put his hand up to become the Labour candidate for the New Lynn electorate. While that would be unfortunate for this site, my advice for Labour, and the New Lynn electorate grab him. According to various media the leading candidates are him and Deborah Russell.
Claire Trevett repeats the usual National party spin on the Labour party selection process
The two frontrunners are Greg Presland, a local and longstanding associate of Cunliffe, and Deborah Russell, an outsider and tax expert at Massey University who has support from Labour’s hierarchy.
The showdown could pit Labour’s ruling Council against local members when the selection meeting takes place on February 11.
Four of the seven votes at the meeting will be local votes while three are Labour Council votes – but one of the local votes will be a floor vote of the party members at the selection meeting.
As a New Lynn resident since 1987 and strong backer of Cunliffe, Presland has the local advantage but Russell is understood to have support from Labour’s Council because of her media profile as a commentator, her finance expertise and because it wants more women in electorates.
Presland was closely involved in Cunliffe’s campaign for the leadership. There is also concern in Labour about Presland’s outspoken – and sometimes critical – contributions to The Standard blog under the pseudonym Mickey Savage.
Hummph. I always find this kind of dialogue so reminiscent of a David Farrar jerk off spin line. In this case I’m sure that I have seen all of these phrases virtually verbatim on his ‘independent’ KiwiBlog. I guess that is where Claire picks up her prejudices from. David Farrar is the pollster for the National party, including the qualitative testing of lines. But he knows fuck-all about the Labour party, and he knows even less about Auckland.
Unlike Mt Albert, there are going to be a number of candidates for the New Lynn seat. While there was some talk of getting a selection going in Mt Albert just because uncontested selections are just a a pain. However local members really just wanted to nick Jacinda Arden from Auckland Central because we knew her and the type of work she’d been doing next door.
However generally, if at all possible, all selections should be contested. Further down in the article there is a mention of Susan Zhu, Christina Faumuina, Owen Gill and Sunny Kaushal. Most of these are possible Auckland or local candidates and it is probable that others would also enter before selections close.
Sure head office could try to parachute a candidate in as happened in Mt Albert in 2009. But (especially in Auckland) they’re likely to find that to do so for a ‘safe’ seat, unless they’re very careful, they’ll just lose the members efforts and either the seat or the party votes that the seat generates. Quite frankly, this is Auckland. Everyone has other and usually better things to do than putting effort into campaigns for people who don’t know the local political ground.
But Claire (and the mischievous Farrar spin lines) miss the crucial factor. This isn’t a long drawn out exercise like Mt Albert in 2009 where a candidate only had to win a by election, and then had years before a real campaign. Most of the electorates with sitting Labour MPs are already starting to wind up their campaigns for the general election this year. Throwing a locally ignorant candidate into that maelstrom of decisions and choices in complex Auckland electorates will be a problem that even the Labour head office must be aware of.
In my politically jaundiced and completely unsolicited opinion 1, Greg would be a great local candidate. Now I can’t claim to be an expert Auckland westie so I’ll limit my opinions to the general observations that the westies of New Lynn, Titirangi and Blockhouse Bay are likely to tolerate (and really I don’t give a damn if any don’t want to tolerate it) – I simply haven’t lived out that way for long enough periods to know the ground.
But that electorate isn’t a black hole for me in the way that South Auckland or the Eastern Suburbs are. I do have a bit of history around the area. I’m a isthmus Aucklander with a parent who grew up in Titirangi in the post depression 1940s. Her parents worked at Crown Lynn for a very long time after it was founded. My first four years of work in the 1980s after my first stint at university were at a couple of Ceramco companies in New Lynn. And of course I have friends out that way who like bending my ear. So I have an idea of how much that New Lynn, Blockhouse Bay and Titirangi area has changed over decades and just how complex the social ground is.
With all due respect for Deborah Russell, who I have been reading since in In A Strange Land nearly a decade ago, I think that you’re really pushing it uphill to become a candidate in the time available. Labour should have got off their arse and organised their selection a whole lot closer to the time that David Cunliffe announced he wouldn’t be standing in 2017. Which I seem to remember was announced quite a while back in last year.
Then Deborah might have had time to get on the ground and to get ready. But to head in at this late juncture from a Wellington / Palmerston North axis just makes her candidacy for selection a bit of a crap shoot regardless of her obvious competency.
In my opinion, Labour in Auckland really REALLY needs local or reasonably resident candidates to replace sitting MPs for their existing electorates. Ones who know the shifting physical and demographic geography of their large electorates and the specialised local infrastructure to win electorate MPs their seats with enough extra ommph to not only defend and raise their electorate vote, but to also raise the all-important party vote in the electorate. Newbies to an urban electorates like New Lynn are unlikely to do either.
Michael Wood demonstrated how much of a difference it makes with the easy by-election win in Mount Roskill seat, and I suspect in the forthcoming general election. He has been deeply involved in that seat at an organisational level for a long time.
Similarly Jacinda Arden followed the ex-Auckland Central suburb of Grey Lynn into my local electorate of Mt Albert. That certainly eased the transition. While the two electorates are really really different, the residential Grey Lynn suburb (which was the traditional bulwark of Auckland Central voters in the old Auckland Central seats for so long) is not. She will have the fun of getting to know Avondale and Waterview. But she has jelled with local members 3 because of the experience of years of just living and being involved locally on the Auckland Isthmus.
As a contrast, it made it a lot easier than the awkwardness and flailing around that the parachuting of David Shearer into my home electorate of Mt Albert back in 2009 caused. In my opinion, while he was great on paper, he simply didn’t fit with the large and diverse electorate and the people working in it. While he slowly remade it into a personal vote machine, he was still ceding party vote two general elections later.
I’m afraid that parachuting remote candidates in, especially on short notice, is something that should be obsolete in a party that depends so much on the ability of local MPs to turn out party vote in electorates.
Sure as a strategy it often worked back in the days when we had 20,000 odd voters in electorates, but it gets freaking hard to do in large urban MMP electorates with more than 50,000 voters. You have to be on the ground for quite a while to get to know the area and the people – more like years rather than months.
I’m pretty sure that the Labour party in Wellington is just as aware of that as Auckland members are. If not, then I’m sure they will be informed.
Speaking of which – when are the selections for Auckland Central due? It’d be a pity to waste the efforts of recent elections in getting that seat.