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The Kelvin Davis effect

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, August 9th, 2017 - 48 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, Kelvin Davis, labour, leadership - Tags: , ,

Much has been written about the Ardern effect that has put Labour so enthusiastically back in the game. Just last night for example, Ardern is ‘standout leader’ of post-Clark Labour, and Ardern: The best thing to happen to Labour in a long time. Anecdotes abound of voters switching to Labour, and while we don’t want to count our chickens too soon, it seems likely that the next polls will be somewhat better than the last.

The elevation of Kelvin Davis is also looking like a very good move for Labour:

Kelvin Davis’ promotion to deputy leader will appeal to both Maori and Pakeha voters

Labour may have found the masterstroke it needed to win over more of the Maori vote – promoting Kelvin Davis to deputy leader.

There’s been plenty of prophesying that the new leader, Jacinda Ardern, is a Labour Party game-changer and the influx of donations and volunteers are supporting those claims.

But is the weight of Maori firebrand Kelvin Davis, the first Labour Maori deputy and son of the North, just as important?

Can Davis galvanise Maori who may have been looking to the Maori Party or NZ First, and convince them to give their party vote to Labour?

The boost to Davis’ mana as a result of his promotion will have a ripple effect throughout Maoridom. As one source put it, he will give Maori hope that their voice will finally be front and centre in a potential future Government.

Davis is related to both Jones and Peters and the new deputy made no secret of the strength of their friendship when he addressed media shortly after being voted into the job. … And now one of their own, former Labour MP Jones, has joined ranks with Peters, the connection between the two parties is a formidable force.

So why is Davis so popular? One person close to him described him as someone who “exudes everything about regional New Zealand”. He’s the guy who is the backbone of the local rugby club, organises community initiatives and turns up at the marae to help out. … Davis has never been involved in the radical or activist type politics – in reality he appeals to Pakeha voters as much as he does Maori.

…there’s no doubt he will appeal and speak to another group of voters – voters Labour hasn’t been able to count on until now.

‘Yeah, hell, why not?’ – How Kelvin Davis became Labour’s first Māori deputy

The change in leadership has opened up the possibility the Māori Party could switch sides too. Co-leader Marama Fox phoned into RadioLIVE talkback late Thursday night, saying the leadership switch is a “phenomenal move – the best tactical move they’ve made”. …

Maori Party offers olive branch to Labour, who could vanquish them

The Maori Party has offered an olive branch to Labour’s new leader Jacinda Ardern, saying its members want it to work with Labour.

Labour’s new Maori deputy leader Kelvin Davis could boost their vote in the single seat that the Maori Party hold, kicking them out of Parliament.

“Maori people throughout the country are telling me they want our party to work with Labour if it’s in a position to form a government after September 23,” party president Tuku Morgan said in a press release.

Davis said he was open to working with the Maori Party if it “stepped their game up” and made it back into Parliament in the first place. …

Kelvin Davis is NZ’s best hope for prison reform in decades

New Zealand’s prison population is ballooning, and no politician seems to have any good plan to stop it – except Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis, writes Di White. …

Alan Duff: Why I’m thinking about changing who I vote for

A family member told me she’s switching her vote from National to Labour. As much for the Jacinda/Kelvin effect as her belief that National is not addressing her concerns at child poverty.

Many voters will be thinking this way, including yours truly. I have never voted for Labour, only National, and once I voted for the Maori Party.

I’m possibly changing parties because, like everyone, I hate seeing politicians change from passionate idealists to dismissive egotists. The Jacinda factor is all too evidently real. So too the Kelvin factor.

As a school principal who took over a Kaitaia school in a dreadful mess, he single-handedly turned it around. I know from personal experience that he keeps his word, genuinely cares for Maori, and is modest to boot.

Politically, Kelvin Davis is related to Shane Jones and Winston Peters, as well as good mates. It means he can work with New Zealand First who, in this election, will likely be a key player. The Maori Party have reached out to Labour after a long period of estrangement. I think this is the Kelvin factor. He’s easy to deal with because he’s genuine. …

Like I expect most lefties I want this election to deliver Labour in government with the Greens alone. But if other alliances are needed, it seems like Kelvin Davis is going to be a key factor in coalition building. What a smart appointment.

48 comments on “The Kelvin Davis effect ”

  1. garibaldi 1

    Coalition building with Mana ? Kelvin Davis is no leftie.

    • red-blooded 1.1

      If Hone has been willing to cuddle up to the Maori Party (stable mates to National all this time), why would he step aside from dealing with Labour? After all, the Maori Party are up for it.

      And besides, I doubt very much that Mana are going to be represented in parliament after the election. If they are, they’d be doing their supporters a disservice if they turned away from dealing with Labour. Who would you expect them to support? A coalition built around National?

      As for your comments about Davis, I don’t know him, but I do know that as a successful school principal, he would have been welcomed into any political party. He could have chosen the Nats – he didn’t; he lived by his values and stepped up for Labour.

    • Yep – please don’t disturb the mythologising – the left will get through this.

    • Bearded Git 1.3

      Davis was far too quick to slag off the Greens over the MT issue, while giving no credit to the Greens for having the cojones to put poverty issues centre-stage.

      This was really dumb given the MOU and the need to grow the Left’s total vote.

      • David Mac 1.3.1

        Yeah, another rookie error. I think we got Kelvin’s kneejerk opinion, he needs to start delivering the Labour Party’s opinion.

      • Arguably it might be a “two directions” strategy, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve worked out a way around the apparent contradictions of that position yet if so.

  2. Ad 2

    Don’t forget: awesome Northland school Principal. Gets the best out of people young and old.

  3. David Mac 3

    He turned the culture of Kaitaia Intermediate around when Principal there. Instilled a sense of pride in the school and students alike. Driving past, it still looks like a very tidy school. Changing the prevailing culture was one thing, it appears Kelvin’s legacy continues many years after he has left. I’m curious to know if his initiatives are still kicking goals today.

    • NewsFlash 3.1

      David Mac

      The intermediate school had a lot of new classrooms built and painted and tidied up under Clark, she also did the high school and completely rebuilt the hospital after the Nats kept threatening to close it, most there didn’t really appreciate it.

      I know Kelvin, and have worked for him, he is an academic, very community conscious, always striving to improve.

      I know many here think he is too far right for them, but if you can’t attract the masses to vote for you, you’re basically doomed to the opposition benches where no matter what your point of view is, it will never see the light of day.

      Good political parties always have Left and Right factions, where policy can be debated with out comes that support all members

  4. David Mac 4

    I don’t think Kelvin will be left flavoured enough for many Standard regulars. I do feel he is about right for the big picture: 4.5 million critics. For me, a primary prerequisite of being left is to always place people and their wellbeing first. Via his words and more importantly his actions, I see this attitude in Kelvin.

    • Anne 4.1

      I sat in front of him at a Labour conference when he first entered parliament. He was in awe of his parliamentary colleagues and didn’t know whether he was going to make the grade. I took a liking to him as an honest, down to earth Kiwi who had no grandiose ideas about his own abilities. Not only did he make the grade but he has proved to be better than most.

      I agree with you David Mac he probably isn’t far enough left for many but they have to take into account his deeply rural Maori background. Survival is far more important in the rural North than political philosophies of the Left and Right. He has unashamedly claimed he is, first and foremost, in parliament for his own people.

      • David Mac 4.1.1

        Hi Anne, hopefully he pledged his commitment to his people when he was merely the elected member for the Maori seat Te Tai Tokerau and the holder of a shadow portfolio.

        Now when Kelvin speaks of ‘his people’ he needs to be referring to all of us. Hopefully he approaches his new job like his Iwi has just blown out to 4.5 million people.

        • Anne

          Hopefully he approaches his new job like his Iwi has just blown out to 4.5 million people.

          I’m sure he does. Anyone who has met him will know he relates as well to Pakeha as his own people. He’s one of the most honest, up-front and laid-back parliamentarians I’ve known.

          Edit: And no… I don’t always agree with his view. But as I said… that can be affected by the environment one grew up in.

          • RedLogix

            What’s more he’s the only NZ politician to see maybe 600,000 potential voters just across the Tasman who’ve been utterly ignored until now.

            Really all it would take is to dedicate one list MP’s representing us Ozzie Kiwis and there’d be worthwhile buy in.

  5. Enough is Enough 5

    In my opinion Kelvin is a boof head in the mould of a Shane Jones or John Tamihere.

    If that attracts votes that the left would not have otherwise got, then awesome.

    I just hope his influence does not rub off onto the policy table too much.

    • amirite 5.1

      Really? Does he really fit into the same misogynist category as them? Cause he has been very vocal about the damage that domestic and sexual violence is doing in his community.

      • Enough is Enough 5.1.1

        His boof head behaviours include his rant on Saturday which in my view adds absolutely nothing to the political debate. Name calling is gutter politics and I don’t like where it takes us Lets recall what he said:

        “we look over the side there we see a Prime Minister with the personality of a rock. We’ve got the Jacinda effect and then we’ve got Paula Bennett, who’s mastered the Lynn of Tawa effect.

        “We’ve got Jonathan Coleman, the doctor of death, we’ve got Steven Joyce, who’s as authentic as a $4 Rolex, we’ve got Gerry Brownlee, who’s got the energy of a small hill, we’ve got Simon Bridges, the only person under 80 who still buys Bryl, and we’ve got Judith Collins – look, her stare caused that ice shelf in Antarctica to crack off and float away.”

        • Valerie

          He was firing a shot over Nationals bow – letting them know there is a new show in town thus exposing the Emperor has no Clothes!! Excellent, see how they cower.

          • Enough is Enough

            Do you really think National cowered?

            It is the kind of juvenile crap that goes on in Parliament on a daily basis. Key you used to resort to this every time he answered a question in politics.

            Supporters think it is hilarious and opponents simply ignore it.

            But do you think the vast majority of people who don’t breath politics on a daily basis are impressed or influenced by it?

            Jacinda was fantastic and gave neutral people a reason to vote. Kelvin was silly and gave people a reason to turn off.

            • Valerie

              I didn’t think he was hilarious but I appreciated his message which needed to be sent. It’s a new ball game and Labour has woken up and returning fire.

        • Hanswurst

          He’s not actually calling anybody names there, and it’s a clear and well articulated attempt to illustrate a tired and conservative government with respect to the personas that the individuals in question cultivate quite deliberately in public. There’s nothing nasty or bullying about it, and while his words there aren’t all about solid policy or deep political philosophy, there is certainly substance to what he is saying.

        • marty mars

          Thanks for those quotes – that are illuminating and show us a lot about Davis – pity he thinks schoolyard level insults are appropriate – embarassing. Sad.

    • David Mac 5.2

      Which of his pet policies do you see as the most damaging? I’ve seen him create a learning environment that empowers children to be the best they can be. I’ve seen him working hard at trying to create better conditions for prisoners and minimising return visits. I’ve seen him walking over a number of days to draw attention to domestic violence issues.

      What evil are you concerned Kelvin may introduce?

      The charter school thing? I don’t think his position has anything to do with money and everything to do with kids getting a fighting chance.

      • marty mars 5.2.1

        No one person creates a culture or changes one. The staff and parents and pupils are involved along with the principal. Your assertions are like lauding the winger that got a try and dissing all other team members by omission.

        • David Mac

          Yes, you’re right Marty. But I think you know where I’m coming from. The type of change we’re talking about requires a dedicated and inspirational catalyst.

          • marty mars

            You’re bending the knee too early imo

            • David Mac

              Yeah, I rate the guy, I think he is a good choice. Will he leave a Lancelot legacy to Jacinda’s King Arthur? You’re right, that all remains to be seen and I’d be foolish to put all my wages on his nose….I’ll go $5 each way.

              • Well time will tell – funny that JA had to tell him to ‘zip it’ after his attacks on the gnats – maybe he’ll be another prebble.

                • David Mac

                  Yes, the dynamics around that incident are interesting.

                  It reminded me of the Mother of the Bride having a little tug on the corner of the jacket of the standing Father of the Bride as he sets off on a story that is a shade too ripe for the reception guests.

                  I thought the lines were quite good, Kelvin’s comedic timing lacking and the idea juxtaposed to their positivity theme. I suspect he was quick to acknowledge that it might be a routine worthy of dropping.

                  • It was forced, rehearsed, poorly delivered, at the wrong time with the wrong vibe – yep a real winner.

                    • David Mac

                      People with a tendency to give things a go do make some glaring errors. It comes with the territory. I’m hopeful he will be a much improved and more measured shadow deputy after he has been in the job a month….Alas he doesn’t really have that kind of time. just as Jacinda has he is also required to step up to the mic and be a rock star from day 1. So yeah, a bit of a bung note on the opening number, I think NZers will let it ride.

                    • It is good he appeals to you – hopefully that will help the greens get closer to the reins of power.

        • Stephen Doyle

          Not sure your’e correct there Marty. The Principal of a small school is the driving force. Any change starts with them. Apart from anything else he has to be able to take staff and parents with his vision.

    • Karen 5.3

      He is nothing like Tamihere or Jones in one important area – he is not a misogynist. He has done a lot of work behind the scenes in the area of reducing sexual and domestic violence. I have left wing, feminist friends involved in women’s refuges who can’t speak highly enough of him.

      • David Mac 5.3.1

        Yes, I struggle to imagine Jacinda tapping either of them on the shoulder and asking them to stand beside her.

  6. ropata 6

    Heard Kelvin Davis speak at Horeke Marae in Northland earlier this year. A well spoken and gracious speaker, not divisive like Hone, and respectful to his political opponents.

    Aware of the context of the event (opening a new cycle path) he gave a history of the area and the local hapu. Didn’t ramble on and came across as a down to earth bloke who cares about the people of Te Tai Tokerau.

    Think I will move to TTT so I can vote for him 🙂

    • Are you on the Māori Roll?

      Good that you rate him – I don’t and I’d be happy to be proved wrong. Down in Te Tai Tonga it is gonna be a tough race for some.

    • NewsFlash 6.2

      +1 Ropata

      We need more politicians like Davis and Ardern

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