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Wellington Central: Should Grant Robertson Stand Aside?

Written By: - Date published: 2:12 pm, July 19th, 2020 - 47 comments
Categories: articles, class war, Deep stuff, democratic participation, election 2020, grant robertson, greens, james shaw, labour, national, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , ,

I posted last week on why it would be in the best interests of the citizens of the Auckland Central electorate for the Green candidate to stand aside to allow the Labour candidate to win.

In short, I wrote that the Greens had no chance of winning the seat and their historical influence had only been to ensure National won it instead of Labour, meaning that local battlers doing it tough had no empathetic electorate MP to help them in times of trouble.

That piece generated two excellent posts here on The Standard, a factually inaccurate response on Pete George’s Your NZ, and best of all, a a load of hot air from the Sir Bufton Tufton of the blogging world, Chris Trotter, who couldn’t even get the difference between strategy and tactics correct.

Trotter was so exercised by the thought of an intelligent political response to the situation in Ak Central, he resorted to the tired old right wing claim that the Standard is run by the Labour Party. And in a moment of Freudian sexism, Trotter also managed to mangle the name of the Labour Party president, Claire Szabó.

By the way, it’s worth noting that the Daily Blog has not corrected the misnaming, despite being alerted to it. That’s poor form, but consistent with what I hear about the editor’s attitude toward women he doesn’t approve of.

So, to Wellington Central.

It’s a high population density central city seat where the Greens have built up a good on the ground organisation and with James Shaw as candidate in the last 3 elections have averaged nearly 6000 electorate votes and, importantly, 10,000 party votes.

Internationally, Green parties tend to do well in central urban electorates. Across the ditch, the major cities there, particularly Melbourne, strategically vote Green.

It makes sense for the Greens here in NZ to fight hard in those inner city seats. Wellington is no different, and it’s worth remembering that the seat has gone to a smaller party once under MMP. Who won it? I’ll tell you at the end of the post.

So should Grant Robertson stand aside to allow James Shaw a clear run at the seat?

Tactically speaking, it could work a charm.

In the last 3 elections, National has had a consistent vote in both electorate and party vote of less than 40%. The current Tory candidate, Nicola Willis, even managed to drag her personal vote down into the 20’s at the 2017 poll.

The risk is low and the potential gain is high. Lose one electorate seat, gain a coalition partner.

If Grant Robertson did step aside, I firmly believe James Shaw would be the next MP for Wellington Central.

However, it’s not going to happen.

Both parties, as I understand it, are committed to standing, and campaigning, in every seat.

This has been Labour’s position since its founding and it’s not going to change.

However, there have been times when a nod and a wink from Labour have worked a treat.

The Rangitikei by-election in 1978 was won by Social Credit’s Bruce Beetham, who retained the seat in 1981.

The Coromandel electorate was won by the Greens in 1999.

And, more recently, Northland was won by NZ First in the 2015 by-election.

For the record, the only two votes I have ever cast that were not for Labour, were in two of the above mentioned elections. I’m chuffed to have helped defeat National both times.

However, in the long run, I don’t think it’s good for our democracy to do electorate deals. It borders on arrogance and that’s best left to the Tories.

Unless there is a clear call from the voters themselves, as can be argued for the 3 exceptions above, I can’t see a need for any result in Wellington Central other than Grant Robertson MP being re-elected and both Labour and the Greens picking up swags of party votes.

We should all be happy if that’s the way it works out.

A Budget for 'very different times' | Otago Daily Times Online News

Oh, and who won Wellington Central for a minor party?

Former Auckland Central MP Richard Prebble for ACT in the first MMP election in 1996.

Be careful what you wish for, whanau!

 

 

 

 

 

 

47 comments on “Wellington Central: Should Grant Robertson Stand Aside?”

  1. Andre 1

    Is anyone actually pushing the idea that Robertson should stand aside for Shaw in a similar way to how a few arithmetically-challenged people are shouting for Labour to stand aside for Swarbrick? If they are, I haven't seen it.

    (to the reading-comprehension-challenged: Yes, I've suggested Wellie Central is the only electorate where Labour might be able to successfully gift the Greens an electorate lifeboat if Labour and Greens both pushed for it. That's not the same as pushing for actually trying to make it happen)

  2. swordfish 2

    .
    Wellington Central (2017)

    Party Vote

    Lab … 16500 … 38.3%

    Green .. 9198 … 21.3%

    (L+G ….. 25698 … 59.6%)

    Nat …… 13156 … 30.5%

    TOP ……. 2538 ….. 5.9%

    NZF ……… 972 …… 2.3%

    .

    Candidate Vote

    Lab (Robertson) 20873 … 49.3%

    Green (Shaw) ….. 6520 … 15.4%

    (L+G ………………. 27393 ….. 64.7%)

    Nat (Willis) ……. 10910 ….. 25.8%

    .

    Robertson (Lab) Majority: 9963

    .

    Split Vote

    Party-Vote …….. Candidate-Vote

    Labour …. 77.5% Robertson / 14.6% Shaw / 1.6% Willis

    Green ….. 58.6% Robertson / 33.2% Shaw / 1.0% Willis

    National …. 11.8% Robertson / 4.9% Shaw / 75.7% Willis

    Top …….. 23.7% Robertson / 10.4% Shaw / 6.8% Willis

    NZF …… 35.1% Robertson / 4.3% Shaw / 16.6% Willis

    • Andre 2.1

      That's a gobsmackingly high number of Nat party-voters voting for Robertson, and exceptionally low number voting for Willis.

      • Descendant Of Smith 2.1.1

        It's one of the things I like about MMP. If you have a good local politician who does a good job on the ground then you can vote for them regardless of the party they belong to.

        You can then vote for the party you might like to govern.

        It's a much, much better system than we had in the past.

        • Andre 2.1.1.1

          Yeah.

          I just wish we had a much lower threshold to get a seat in Parliament. Like 0.83%, so if you can get more than 1 in 120 citizens to vote for your party, your party gets 1/120 of the total representation in the House. Then all these electorate shenanigans would be moot.

          • Descendant Of Smith 2.1.1.1.1

            Aye if we are going to have 120 seats then a direct ration of votes to seats would be most appropriate.

            On the other hand I would have 60 Maori seats and 60 non-Maori seats in order to have equal authority (partnership) between Maori and those who followed. It would be great to see direct representation of iwi up and down the country in parliament.

      • swordfish 2.1.2

        That's a gobsmackingly high number of Nat party-voters voting for Robertson, and exceptionally low number voting for Willis.

        I wouldn't say that … it's fairly typical of the National Party-Voter split in seats with popular / high-profile Labour incumbents. Indeed, if anything it’s slightly at the lower end … often 14-24% of Nats Candidate-Voting Labour in such electorates (as opposed to 12% in Wellington Central).

        • Andre 2.1.2.1

          Gotta admit, I was scratching my head a bit trying to think of popular high profile Labour incumbents beyond Ardern, Robertson and Hipkins. So I resorted to looking at the split-vote statistics for any other Labour bigwigs that got a decent chunk of Nat party votes, and only found … Lees-Galloway.

          Apart from Ardern who got 25% of Nat party voters (against Melissa Lee, no surprise) the other 3 got mid-teens of Nat party voters. Typical isn't the word I'd use in describing what happened in 4 out of 29 electorates, but YMMV.

          • swordfish 2.1.2.1.1

            You

            That's (11.8% Wellington Central) a gobsmackingly high number of Nat party-voters voting for Robertson, and exceptionally low number voting for Willis.

            Me

            I wouldn't say that … it's fairly typical of the National Party-Voter split in seats with popular / high-profile Labour incumbents. Indeed, if anything it’s slightly at the lower end … often 14-24% of Nats Candidate-Voting Labour in such electorates (as opposed to 12% in Wellington Central).

            You

            Apart from Ardern who got 25% of Nat party voters (against Melissa Lee, no surprise) the other 3 got mid-teens of Nat party voters. Typical isn't the word I'd use in describing what happened in 4 out of 29 electorates, but YMMV.

            .
            My Response

            Seats where more than 11.8% of Nat Party-Voters cast a Candidate-Vote for Labour incumbent.

            10 General Seats & 6 Maori Seats

            Te Tai Tokerau (Davis) 31.9%

            Hauraki-Waikato (Mahuta) 26.7%

            Mt Albert (Ardern) 24.9%

            Waiariki (Coffey) 19.3%

            Napier (Nash) 18.3%

            Mana (Faafoi) 18.1%

            Mt Roskill (Wood) 18.0%

            Rimutaka (Hipkins) 16.4%

            Port Hills (Dyson) 16.3%

            Ikaroa-Rāwhiti (Whaitiri) 15.8%

            Palmerston North (Lees-Galloway) 15.4%

            West Coast-Tasman (O'Connor) 14.5%

            Rongotai (Eagle) 13.4%

            Tāmaki Makaurau (Henare) 12.8%

            Manukau East (Salesa) 12.8%

            Te Tai Tonga (Tirikatene) 12.5%

            ———————————————————————–

            Seats where just under 11.8% of Nat Party-Voters cast a Candidate-Vote for Labour incumbent

            6 General Seats & 1 Maori Seat

            Wigram (Woods) 11.5%

            Mangere (Sio) 10.5%

            Te Tai Hauāuru (Rurawhe) 10.3%

            Dunedin South (Curran) 10.3%

            Dunedin North (Clark) 10.2%

            Christchurch East (Williams) 9.7%

            Ohariu (O'Connor) 9.5%

            • swordfish 2.1.2.1.1.1

              So not "4 out of 29" … but rather 16 out of 29 Labour MPs enjoy support from Nat Party-Voters above Wellington Central's 11.8% … and 23 out of 29 above 9% … hence 11.8% is not "a gobsmackingly high number of Nat party-voters” voting for a Labour Incumbent.

              • Sacha

                Surely this is more notable?

                Green ….. 58.6% Robertson / 33.2% Shaw

              • Andre

                I am not worthy to grovel at the altar of your encyclopedic knowledge of New Zealand polling and vote counts, and your pedantry in proving your superiority on that topic.

                • swordfish

                  LOL

                • Sacha

                  Pays to avoid superlatives like 'gobsmackingly' unless you are sure about it.

                  • Andre

                    There's at least two possible interpretations of how "gobsmackingly" was used in my original context. I got baited into trying (and failing) to defend one of them, when my original intent kinda leant more towards the other. That I found it gobsmacking that given a core Nat value is looking after one's own self-interest, that so many Nat party voters would give their electorate vote to a senior member of the biggest opposing party.

              • Dennis Frank

                Such altruism, as expressed by Nat voters, ought to inspire folks. One could not hope to find better evidence of left/right collusion to defend the establishment against the dire prospect of progress. 🤮

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Labour hubris currently makes the notion unrealistic. However if the next poll show that JC has pulled National back into the 40s, and Labour down into the 40s, there's a realistic basis for the Greens to do a deal with Labour if the Greens are still hovering around the threshold.

    If the poll after that shows the Nat/Lab gap narrowing further, it would be a danger signal for Labour, particularly if the margin of error is approached by the gap.

    Trading Ak central to Labour and Wn central to James then looks sensible for Jacinda in that tight scenario, to secure her second term as PM. It would be a gamble to not do it. That said, I don't see the Nats closing the gap that much…

    • observer 3.1

      Any time people talk about electorate deals they should clarify which of these they mean:

      1) Candidate not on the ballot.

      2) Candidate on the ballot, but supporters "encouraged" not to vote for them.

      Because there's a huge difference. The second one wastes thousands of votes, and in most of these fantasy deals there aren't thousands of votes to waste.

      In short: Epsom is an exception. Not an example.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Very true. I suspect they'd default to #2 without hesitation. How much wisdom lies in doing so I'm not qualified to comment on!

        But the electorate accepts Epsom as an established parliamentary convention, right? So replicating that model is easily conceived. Remember that all the cynicism around it was mostly leftist projecting, which bounces off realpolitik like river water off a boulder in the rapids…

        • Incognito 3.1.1.1

          Only if the Greens get 0.50% of the total nationwide vote (i.e. 13,075 votes across the whole of NZ) and gifted a seat by Labour does it approach the perverted situation in Epsom. Until that time, it is not even close to being equivalent and comparing the two as such is straight-up #theydidtoo BS, IMO. That said, Labour and the Green Party should campaign hard for each vote unlike those bludgers Seymour and Goldsmith.

        • observer 3.1.1.2

          Replicating that model means that even if the candidate from the "gifting" party wins over 10,000 unwanted votes, s/he will still successfully (sic) lose to the candidate who has been "gifted" the seat.

          Nothing to do with "leftist projecting", whatever that means. Only basic arithmetic.

          • Dennis Frank 3.1.1.2.1

            I wonder why you're suggesting that the same "basic arithmetic" that works for National cannot work for Labour. I realise it may not be your intention, but I can't see any other explanation.

            By "leftist projecting" I meant what Incognito calls "straight-up #theydidtoo BS". Projection is a common diagnostic part of Jungian psychology. Leftists project their moral judgments onto others in the naive belief that others will share them (rather than asking the others). 🙄

            • observer 3.1.1.2.1.1

              Instead of "wondering" why not find out? Read up on all the Labour electorates and make a list of all those where the "left" vote is as high as Epsom's "right" vote AND the Greens already have a significant vote for their candidate, as Hide did before he took the seat in 2005. It will be a very short list. Then you might finally get the point.

              Wellington Central is being discussed on this post because it is theoretically possible. But Grant Robertson is not Richard Worth – hence my comment about a candidate not being on the ballot paper (at 3.1).

              Repeat: basic arithmetic.

            • Incognito 3.1.1.2.1.2

              No, Dennis, that’s inaccurate, to say the least: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

              But I realise this is going off-topic and I can’t be bothered discussing your ‘view’ of psychology with you here & now.

          • Andre 3.1.1.2.2

            One big difference between Epsom and Wellie Central is in 2017, ACT got 696 votes in Epsom, and the Greens got 9198 votes in WC.

            So in very crude terms, to gift Epsom to Seymour requires at least 50%ish of Epsom Nats to follow orders vote in their strategic interest. Giving Shaw an electorate lifeboat would only need around 35%ish of WC Labour voters to do the same.

      • mikesh 3.1.2

        In Ohariu, in 2017, Brett Hudson seems to have earned a high(er) place on National's list in return for downplaying his efforts in order to benefit Peter Dunne. Dunne withdrew but Hudson retained his place on the list and made his way into parliament.

        The Green Party's Tane Woodley stood aside to help Labour's Greg O'Connor defeat Dunne but, after the latter withdrew, Woodley returned to the fray. O'Connor won anyway.

        It is interesting to speculate what may have happened had there been no Opportunities Party. Jessica Hammond-Doube came third and the final result could well have been much closer had she not been in the race

  4. Byd0nz 4

    Bollocks idea with no merit. Be true to your vote.

    • Chris 4.1

      Which is precisely what Judith Collins would say should happen if Robertson didn't stand and Shaw won Wellington Central, except in Epsom.

  5. Aaron 5

    I enjoyed the analysis but was dismayed at the personal attacks on other left wingers at the start. I'm really looking forward to the day when this stuff dissapears.

    • Well, historically, I'm known here at TS for my sweet disposition and zen like calm, Aaron. However, I do call it as I see it.

      Bomber, in particular, for describing the outstanding Labour candidate Helen White as "wallpaper" and a "nobody" needs to take a good, hard look at himself.

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        I loved your post. It was wicked in so many ways!

      • Bearded Git 5.1.2

        TRP…agreed…Bomber is often good but at times he goes off the rails. My understanding is that White is a respected lawyer who has worked hard for the Labour Party and unions over many years. She polled well in 2017.

        Having said that, I think Swarbrick has a good chance in AC now Kaye has decided she can't stomach working for Crusher and will not defend the seat.

        Swarbrick has massive name recognition especially in Akl.

        • lprent 5.1.2.1

          My understanding is that White is a respected lawyer who has worked hard for the Labour Party and unions over many years.

          She is and does. I briefly did some electorate work with her in the late 90s or early 00s when she was in Sandringham branch. From memory she was either still doing her law degree or our doing professionals at the time. Her work, like that of everyone with a work life goes up and down with the time available.

          Thoroughly nice, focused and very competent person. If I lived on the other side of Newton Road, I'd be voting for her without hesitation.

          For that matter, if I was on the other ridgeline of Newton Gully, I'd be voting for Camilla Belich. Don't know her personally. But she has a good reputation and has been pretty active since she and Andrew Kirton got back from overseas.

          However since the boundary changes two elections ago, I'm now on the very edge of Mt Albert electorate. So I have managed to vote for Jacinda Arden since 2011. I can live with that… 🙂

  6. Maurice 6

    This all starts to smack of desperation … present polling shows Labour able to rule alone but with both NZ First and Greens polling low we are prepared to consider any "Tory" ploy to ensure a coalition partner. Should the Nats; ACT and Labour remain the only parties past the threshold after the voting… there may be some concern. But are the Greens so uncertain of reaching the 5% threshold do they deserve "saving" at the expense of the chance of ruling alone ???

    • Incognito 6.1

      I do despair!

      The title of the OP contains a question mark, yes?

      You realise not everything is meant to be taken literally necessarily, yes?

      The piece is aimed at stimulating (provoking) thinking and debate, yes?

      We’re on the same page now, yes?

      Thank you!

    • Maurice….how about this result. It would mean (assuming Swarbrick does not win Akl Central, that Jones does not win Northland and that the MP does not win any seats) that Crusher would be PM.

      Lab 44.0

      Gre 4.8

      NZF 4.0

      Nat 39.0

      Act 5.7

      Wasted 2.5

  7. Sabine 7

    Do you think that the Green Party Candidates could win a seat without a Labour Candidate having to step aside?

    And if so, does that Green Party Candidate then merit the win?

    Or is this like everyone wins here have a gummi bear. 🙂

  8. Matthew Whitehead 8

    I’d have posted this earlier, had I had access to my computer… but… also no, and for the exact same reasons. The Greens don't need or want a charity seat from Labour, it will look bad to voters, and if you want to end splitting in Welly Central so people can more freely vote for Shaw, then we should implement an electoral reform where all of our electorates are "immune to clones," ie. there is neither an advantage nor disadvantage to additional candidates entering the race.

  9. observer 9

    Grand Strategy:

    Labour and the Greens should fight each other bitterly in National electorates, so that the sitting Nat MPs win. That would mean their diminished caucus is filled with useless incumbents, instead of new blood from the list.

    Here for the long term plan …

  10. novacastrian 10

    There appears to be many here suggesting Labour fall on their swords to let the Greens have a place at the political table. The question really is why, when they only represent perhaps 5% of voters in NZ. If they can't win on their own merits, then perhaps they shouldn't be in parliament.

    The Greens have been steadily heading south since they sold their "green credentials" for more hardline Marxist pursuits. Labour are viewed as moderate left, and therefore more palatable to the wider population.

    silly policies like the rich tax which effectively guts middle class NZ just turns people away. Hell, how many of us living in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have a house whose value has punched the One Million mark who are only regular income earners, and far from being rich…..

    or other nonsense policies like giving prisoners the right to vote. After only gaining half their wish in parliament , the Greens announce a legal challenge so ALL prisoners can vote. Hmmm, do we really want to give voting rights to a guy who murdered 50 people, attempted to murder another 40 or so, and who also committed an act of terrorism in NZ.

    I think when Winston walks from parliament this election, perhaps he could be so kind to hold the door open for the Greens to exit likewise.

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