John Pagani looks at whether Labour should stand in the by-election. One of his reasons againgst is:
Even if Labour wins, we just get a re-run of the unhelpful list issues that followed Darren Hughes’ resignation. Kelvin Davis would have to be the candidate. He is absolutely top drawer as a candidate and MP and he will walk all over Hone. He speaks directly to Maori aspiration for better opportunity for their kids. So Mana won;t be able to attack Kelvin. Instead, opponents will run a ‘vote Kelvin get Mahara, or Dave Hereora, or even Lesley Soper’ line. They’re all nice people, but they don’t have a constituency in Te Tai Tokerau.
There is a simple solution to this issue – not fill the list vacancy if Kelvin Davis wins the by-election. Under s136 of the Electoral Act the House by 75% majority can resolve not to fill the list vacancy as it is within six months of the election. I doubt anyone would disagree that it would be silly to bring someone in on the list for less than 20 sitting days.
Another option would be that Kelvin Davis simply doesn’t resign as a List MP. He wouldn’t get two salaries or two votes, but it would mean no list vacancy is triggered.
Balanced against all that though is a pretty big consideration: Labour would probably win, and in doing so it would knock Mana out of politics.
Labour and the Greens can’t afford to bleed a lazy one or two per cent to Mana, and both have an interest in minimising endless attacks from the tiny, but voluble, left. Taking out Mana in the by-election fixes an irritant.
Second, campaigns lift morale and therefore increase the total contributions the party can call on.
Managed the right way, total campaign energy is not a limited resource to be carefully apportioned between campaigns; If you do well in one hard fought campaign, then you inspire more enthusiasm. More people turn out everywhere to help. Enthusiasm is not a given, but in well-run campaigns this always happens. After all, fighting election campaigns is what political parties do.
So if Labour backs itself to do a good organisational job, then the campaign could be worthwhile despite the potential cost.Despite that, though, I think they’ll decide it’s best to stick to the main game.