Chloe Swarbrick’s win is noteworthy. It’s notable that Helen White’s vote share pretty much didn’t change upwards despite the largest swing to Labour across the country we’ve seen in multiple decades.
The result will stand Helen White as the Hilary Clinton of New Zealand politics: how in hell was it possible for her to lose an absolute gift of a seat? How little vote share was gained for that candidate despite Nikki Kaye leaving with just weeks to go and a fresh candidate having to get slotted in?
Was Helen White’s campaign that bad? More likely Chloe’s was that good. Chloe Swarbrick’s attribution to the ‘ground game’ of her team was more powerful in Grey Lynn than that of Jacinda Ardern. That’s remarkable in 2020.
Maybe the reasonable list placing meant she knew she was going to get in anyway: Helen White was just too posh to push.
Well that’s the first consequence: complacency from the moderate left is powerful enough to even fully negate The Jacinda.
As the first win for the Greens in an electorate seat since Jeanette Fitzsimmons won Coromandel a couple of decades ago, there’s an illustration of the rise of the Grey Lynn Tribe as the most networked, most influential, most politically aware group in New Zealand. The centre of the Greens has shifted from the rural periphery to right in the heart of the city. That follows the trend of Melbourne and other major centres.
You can see that tribe at play in their local markets on Saturday, in the time they take to select bread, in the frission of networks connections between social media and mainstream tv and radio agents living and working in the area.
Consequence two: The Grey Lynn Tribe is real and its power is truly on the rise.
A freaking obvious conclusion is that young people can engage successfully with politics, and be successful. And to be more pointed: the Greens are pretty good at encouraging young people to be more than campaign helpmeets and grunts which is what Labour and National do. Young people can stand for politics and win.
Consequence three: Chloe Swarbrick is the new Jacinda Ardern. Not identical, sure. But rising fast.
So just to spell out the obvious: the Greens owe Chloe. If they hadn’t made 5% they would have owed their parliamentary existence to her.
They can have more longer term parliamentary assurance because of her performance.I thought Ardern was far too young to be leader in 2017. So with that 2017-2020 evidence, I’m more accepting of younger people that they really can perform and deliver on the national stage.
Someone had better get Chloe a Select Committee job at least, or her supporters in that Grey Lynn tribe will start beating the drum on both social and mainstream media: why not?
Consequence Four: Get this woman a job, or she will continue to rise and eat more of Labour’s left vote.
That left vote is mobile in central Auckland. The urban wealthy liberal voter was not scared off by talk of a wealth tax from the Greens. They wanted this candidate a lot. Chloe’s win party in Auckland’s waterfront was the place all the in-crowd will say they were at for the summer.
To me Chloe Swarbrick is the warning Labour needs to bring the Greens into the government. Because if they don’t, next in the crosshairs is Rongotai or Wellington Central. The left vote is mobile, not loyal to Labour, and looking for politicians who are charismatic and who they believe in and who connect with them.
What a win Chloe!