Back on 16 April I blogged:
Mt Albert is already one of the strongest seats for the Greens. So how would they get Labour voters to vote for the Green candidate? Apart from the fact it won’t bring Judith Tizard back into Parliament?
You make two cases to the voters of Mt Albert:
- It is almost impossible for Labour to be able to form a future Government unless the Greens are in Parliament. Former partners such as the Alliance and NZ First have disappeared and United Future and Progressive and one MP parties now. The Maori Party is currently very hostile, but even with the Maori Party, Labour without the Greens would need more votes than it has ever got before. Bottom line is Labour needs the Greens in Parliament.
- The Greens need the safety net of an electorate seat. They are the only party in Parliament without an electorate seat. In two of the last four elections, they have just scraped in above 5%. If they drop below 5% with no electorate seat they are out of Parliament, and may never return.
Voters can grasp how to be strategic in MMP. They did it in 1996 in Wellington Central and 2005 in Epsom. No reason Mt Albert can’t do it in 2009.
So the Greens should go all out to win the seat. So who do they stand? The next candidate on their list, David Clendon, lives in (or near) Mt Albert I think, but he isn’t a heavy hitter. A by-election is like a mini general election in just one seat.
Normally I would say stand a co-leader.
Now I did then say that Norman is probably too associated with Wellington, but nevertheless think I get partial credit for predicting this story in the Herald today:
The Greens are showing Labour no mercy, with co-leader Russel Norman aiming to stand in the Mt Albert byelection, a move that will increase National’s chances of dealing Labour a humiliating defeat.
I would not rule out the Greens managing to win the seat. Look at these:
- ACT came second to National in TKC in 1998 by only 988 votes
- Alliance came very close second to National in Tamaki in 1992
- Alliance came second to National in Selwyn in 1994 by only 428 votes
- Social Credit won East Coast Bays in 1980 by 951 votes
Third parties historically do very well in by-elections, as people vote tactically. It will be very interesting to see some early polls in the seat. If they show Norman at over 15%, then I would say it could be game on.