The blueing of Auckland

Matt Nippert in the Herald on Sunday looks at the blueing of .

I can certainly recall the days when held just half a dozen seats or so in Auckland, and now it is that is reduce to single figures in Auckland.

Almost one in 10 Aucklanders voted National for the first time in the 2008 general election. Head-to-head, there was a 15 per cent swing to the right, and four middle-Auckland electorates changed their political colours.

National’s average vote in Auckland was 48.3%, compared to 38.0% in Wellington and 42.1% in Christchurch.

The National over Labour gap in Auckland was 15.4%, compared to 10.9% nationally. Only rural NZ had a bigger gap

Auckland also had the largest swing in the country. National went up 6.9% and Labour went down 8.9%.

This movement was particularly pronounced in the city south of the bridge and north of Manukau: young Nikki Kaye unseated Judith Tizard in Auckland Central; Pansy Wong crucified the opposition in the newly created Botany; leopard-skin-clad Paula Bennett stormed home in Waitakere; and burly Samoan rugby player Sam Lotu-Iiga claimed Maungakiekie from old-school unionist Mark Gosche.

The print copy has an amusing sketch of Paula, Sam and Nikki respectively as Wonder Woman, Super Man and well I am not sure but I think Sheena.

Repeatedly, Labour MPs interviewed for this story refer to their electoral defeat as a movement of tides.

That of course is part of it, but not all of it. For may part, here are some of the factors which led to National winning seats off Labour in Auckland.

  1. Right candidates for the seats
  2. They ran campaigns to win the seats, not just party vote campaigns. A good local campaign will life electorate vote and party vote.
  3. The boundary changes were generally favourable to National, especially in areas like Maungakiekie.
  4. Incumbent MPs were retiring or weak
  5. The Government had lost touch – ie time for a change

Now if Labour are placing all their faith in (5) no longer being an issue, then they may get a shock.

The implication is that if the tide of support went out in 2008, it’ll come back in eventually. But, a year and a half later, there is little sign of a sea change that will wash the left back to power.

One has to make it happen, not just wait for the tide.

Chris Carter, whose electorate seat Te Atatu swung almost 20 percentage points to National from Labour, is almost blase about Patel’s change of allegiance: “By and large the Indian community is still with us – and the South African one is for the other guys. That’s the way it’s always been.”

But not necessarily the way it always will stay.

While Trotter has been bitterly attacked by Labour backbenchers for his diagnosis, their leader concedes he may have a point. “I think that’s probably right,” says Goff of the loss of ‘Waitakere Man’: “There’s a group of people out there who thought that Labour had become too nanny-statist, telling people what to do and not to do.”

Not just nanny state. Too reluctant to give tax cuts, and too keen to grow government spending.

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