Feeling like trying something calmer today
Vernon Small reports at Stuff:
Labour will not challenge the cliff-hanger election result in the west Auckland seat of Waitakere, confirming National’s Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in the seat.
“We have made the decision against seeking an electoral petition,” Labour secretary Chris Flatt said today. …
Flatt said the party had discussed the possibility of a challenge with those involved in the recount.
“We have confidence in the Electoral Commission and the process they took.”
A petition could have cost $30,000-$50,000 and possibly over $100,000 if Labour had chosen to challenge on the basis of malpractice.
Plus National has not lost an electoral petition in the last 40 years or so. I suspect the only outcome of an electoral petition in Waitakere (apart from wealth gain for lawyers) would be National to increase their majority.
Last week Scott Yorke blogged a comment of mine about Waitakere from 2010, in an attempt to embarrass me. My comment on Waitakere was:
Sepuloni is probably the candidate with the best chance to take the fight to Paula Bennett. I don’t think she’ll beat Paula, but she’ll do better than a white middle aged guy would, to be blunt.
Scott was of course trying to gloat that I was wrong, as at the time Carmel had won the seat. I guess he is feeling rather foolish for not holding off his post now.
But the irony is that even if Carmel had won the seat, I still stand by my 2010 comment. I said that Carmel had the best chance to beat Paula of any of the Labour nominees, but that I didn’t think she would actually win. I think that was a very mild and fair comment 18 months before the election.
If I could be bothered I could trawl through the left wing blogs for all the quotes about how Little was going to crush Young in New Plymouth, how all the polls except Horizon were wrong, and how Labour would be Government after the election. But frankly I’ve got a life.
The HoS reports:
Evidence of dodgy voting has emerged in the battle for Waitakere. A judge has found nine people voted twice and 393 people voted despite not being on the electoral roll. …
The Herald on Sunday has obtained a copy of Judge John Adams’ initial judgment. It shows Bennett gained eight votes after the recount while Sepuloni lost 12.
Labour bosses will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to accept defeat or pursue an electoral petition. Former president Mike Williams, who was a scrutineer in the recount, did not favour an electoral petition as he thought it unlikely Sepuloni would win.
I’d say the last thing Labour wants is an electoral petition, as based on past behaviour, the likely end result would be the margin for Bennett grows bigger.
The judicial recount of Waitakere has found a number of invalid votes for Carmel Sepuloni and the Judge has found that Paula Bennett received more valid votes, and with a majority of 9 is declared once again the MP for Waitakere. That’s a wonderful result for Paula, who so loves being the local MP out west. A big ups to her and her team.
For Carmel, she is out of Parliament entirely, and Raymond Huo is once again a Labour List MP. A bit of a blow to the rejuvenation efforts for Labour, but at least a boost to their fund-raising efforts.
Carmel might now regret her ungracious tone when she was declared winner after specials. Of course she has open to her the option of an electoral petition, but those things can cost $200,000 or so and off memory National has never lost an electoral petition, well for the last 40 years or so anyway.
The NZ Herald reports:
Cabinet minister Paula Bennett is on the verge of losing her Waitakere electorate seat.
Sources report that Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni is ahead by fewer than 10 votes after the counting of special votes.
Paula will be gutted to lose, if the speculation is correct, as she does love to be the MP for Waitakere. However that is the nature of politics.
If Carmel does win the seat, that will be a morale boost for Labour. She remains in the caucus and they lose either Raymond Huo or Rajan Prasad. Losing Huo will hurt them a bit as he is a major source of revenue for them. I can’t think of any downside to them losing Prasad.
Such a close result would almost inevitably result in a judicial recount, which could take until Christmas.
A judicial recount is absolutely sensible when so close. I doubt it would take until Christmas. They are not like electoral petitions.
A recount is also likely to be sought in Christchurch Central, where Labour’s Brendon Burns and National’s Nicky Wagner were in a dead heat on election night and are understood to be within 100 votes of each other after the coutnting of 3717 special votes.
It was not known last night who was leading.
May also go to a recount. It will be a huge morale blow to Labour to lose Christchurch Central, if they do. Labour have held this seat continuously since 1946. To have National hold both Auckland Central and Christchurch Central would be remarkable.
Danya Levy at Stuff reports:
Former Greens MP Sue Bradford today confirmed she will stand for the Mana Party in the Auckland electorate of Waitakere against Social Development Minister and sitting National MP Paula Bennett.
That is great news for Paula, as Bradford will split the left vote with Carmel Sepuloni.
Meanwhile, Maori broadcaster Willie Jackson has decided not to stand for Mana in Tamaki Makaurau against Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples.
And that is good news for Sharples. I think the risk of him losing was much greater if Jackson stood as Jackson would be competing with Sharples for votes.
He was also concerned he would split the vote in Tamaki Makaurau and enable Labour candidate Shane Jones to win the Maori seat.
And Willie knows Shane is the most right wing Maori MP in Parliament (after Jami-Lee Ross).
The Herald has a profile of and interview with Waitakere candidate Carmel Sepuloni.
Now as I said on Sunday, before she was selected, I regard Sepuloni as the candidate who would do best against Paula Bennett. Chris Trotter is less convinced incidentially, and a fascinating discussion in the comments there.
Anyway some extracts:
Ms Sepuloni, who is from Waitara in Taranaki, said Ms Bennett’s local connections played some part in her victory, but “it was because of the shift that occurred toward the National Party generally”.
To some degree I agree that in 2008, it was primarily the shift to National. Paula had less split votes from Labour voters, than the national average.
However back then Paula was relatively obscure. She is not obscure today, and I would not assume that the 2008 voting pattern will be the same in 2011. I think Paula may attract considerable non-National support.
Of her own links to the electorate, “it’s more what the electorate looks like that I’m connected to”, said Ms Sepuloni, who is of Tongan, Samoan and European descent.
And from Taranaki.
“It’s got a strong working-class base and quite a large Pacific population. It’s got a comparatively large number of sole-parent households and generally, in terms of the people that live there, I think I’m quite capable of connecting with them.”
This I agree with – in fact is why I said she would do best of the four Labour nominees.
Both women are sole parents, but Ms Sepuloni says she is “more down to Earth, more authentic, more genuine”.
This is the statement that really grates, and I genuinely suggest Carmel not use it again.
First of all, it looks strange to apply labels such as authentic and genuine to yourself. By their nature, they are attributes others will decide whether they apply to you. Some attributes such as hard-working, compassionate, sounds fine when talking about yourself, but calling yourself authetntic and genuine doesn’t sound very down to earth.
But the statement goes beyond that, and specifically says more down to earth, more genuine and more authentic than Paula. Again, you look somewhat ridicolous when you claim that as if you are some sort of neutral observer, and it comes over a personal attack on Paula’s character.
Now if you want to run a character based campaign against Paula, so be it. But I really wouldn’t.
Labour’s selection meeting for Waitakere started at 10.30 am, and is still going.
It started with a contested election for the meeting’s rep on the selection panel. The panel effectively has seven members.
- Three members appointed by Head Office
- Two members appointed by the Waitakere electorate committee
- One member appointed by and at the beginning of the selection meeting
- One vote reflecting the secret ballot after the speeches
The secret ballot vote, as I understand it, is a simple first past the post vote and counts as a vote on the panel for the candidate who gets a plurality. If that candidate falls out of contention (ie it is between two other candidates), then the vote doesn’t count.
The order of speaking was Phil Twyford, Hamish McCracken, Carmel Sepuloni and Ann Pala.
Voting after the speeches concluded around three hours ago, so there is obviously some sort of deadlock on the panel, which is taking a while to resolve.
As I understand it McCracken has EPMU support, as he works for them or did work for them. So some of the head office vote may be with him. Pillay, the retiring MP, was EMPU so they probably see the seat as theirs.
Sepuloni is probably the candidate with the best chance to take the fight to Paula Bennett. I don’t think she’ll beat Paula, but she’ll do better than a white middle aged guy would, to be blunt.
Twyford was proclaimed as one of the new high flyers. However if he loses tonight, it will shoot his credibility to shreds, considering it will be his third effective rejection in a row, having been scared off Mt Albert and Auckland Central. Some in Labour will not want to embarrass Twyford like that, even if they think Sepuloni has a better chance.
Eventually the panel will need to eliminate one of the three favourites and then it is a simple two way race, where one candidate needs four out of seven votes.
I’ll blog the result once I hear it.
UPDATE: And it is Carmel Sepuloni. Congratulations to her. As I said above, this is hugely embarassing to Phil Twyford whose nickname already was “Opposition Spokesperson for the Homeless”. He may have to end up Labour candidate in Helensville, or some other unwinnable seat. Or he could move to Mt Roskill and wait until after the next election!
Labour has announced four selections, reports the Herald:
Labour has already chosen its 2011 election candidates for Auckland Central, West Coast-Tasman, Ohariu and Maungakiekie.
First-term list MP Jacinda Ardhern will contest Auckland Central and Carol Beaumont, also a list MP, will contest Maungakiekie. Both are held by National.
List MP Damien O’Connor will try to take back West Coast-Tasman, the seat he lost to National in the last election.
Senior MP Charles Chauvel, another list MP, will contest Ohariu, which is held by United Future leader Peter Dunne.
I wonder why Labour did not open nominations for NZ’s most marginal seat of New Plymouth? Is it because Andrew Little plans to parachute in there later, as that is his home town?
There were four nominations for Waitakere, the seat held by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, and a selection meeting will be held on March 20. The nominations were Ann Pala, Carmel Sepuloni, Hamish McCracken and Phil Twyford.
It will be pretty devastating to Twyford’s career if he fails to win the nomination, after having been scared out of both Mt Albert and Auckland Central.
He is a more polished politician than Sepuloni, but Labourites may not be keen to put up a “white middle aged male” against the young at heart fiesty Paula Bennett.
McCracken is a perennial candidate – his list ratings have been in 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see him beating one, let alone two, MPs to the nominaton.
Ann Pala is a Fijian immigrant who was President of the Waitakere Ethnic Board, a director of Winmac Computer Solutions, member of the Islamic Women’s Council. To her great credit she has criticised her party’s association with Winston Peters.
Less agreeably, Pala called for an “ethnic ward” for the Auckland Council, which would elect two or three Councillors. Pala seems to be the only actual West Auckland standing for the Waitakere nomination.
Meanwhile the Dominion Post reports:
United Future leader Peter Dunne faces a tough battle for his Ohariu seat after Labour kicked off its campaign and National vowed it would not stand aside to give him a free ride.
List MP Charles Chauvel will begin door knocking and leaflet drops within weeks after he was the only nomination as Labour’s candidate.
The seat is the eighth most marginal in the country. It was held by Mr Dunne by just 1006 votes at the last election – well down on his 7702 majority in 2005 and the 12,000-plus margin he racked up in 2002. …
Mr Dunne won 12,303 votes in 2008, compared to 11,297 for Mr Chauvel and 10,009 for Ms Shanks.
I expect National will vigorously contest the seat. The reality is that if both National and Dunne stand, then it is possible Chauvel could win the seat due to vote splitting. However if Peter retires from Parliament, then it would be a safe seat for National. Take a look at recent election results.
In 2008 National’s party vote was 17,670 to 12,728 for Labour. In a clear two way contest National should win the seat by 3,000 to 5,000 votes (depending on if many Greens tactically vote).
The split voting statistics tell a story in Ohariu. This is where Dunne has picked up votes in the last three elections:
- 2002 – Dunne got 47% of Labour voters and 57% of National voters
- 2005 – Dunne got 34% of Labour voters and 52% of National voters
- 2008 – Dunne got 16% of Labour voters and 44% of National voters
Peter used to pick up strong support from Labour and National voters. However from 2002 to 2008, he support from Labour voters declined by two thirds. Ironically it was during this period he supported them with confidence and supply, so there is no gratitude in politics!
Now that Dunne can’t attract large number of Labour voters, the main impact is to split the electorate vote of centre-right voters between him and the National candidate. Hence why Chauvel would have a reasonable chance of winning, if Dunne stands in 2011.
But if Dunne retires, then Ohariu should become the only National held seat in Wellington.
The Herald reports:
Labour’s nominations for Auckland Central and four other seats it views as winnable opened on Friday as part of a strategy to get recognisable candidates on the ground early.
I may be wrong, but I can not recall any other time when a party has gone to candidate selection (for a seat not held) within a year of the election. Normally selections are late in the second year of a three year term. Sometimes earlier in the second year, but never heard of selection starting in the first year.
I’m speculating that Labour had a few nervous List MPs, and they didn’t want them fighting each other all year for seats, so they decided to minimise any in-fighting.
Ms Ardern has confirmed she is putting her name forward to be Labour’s candidate in 2011, meaning the high-profile race will start almost two years before the election.
Ms Kaye won the seat for National for the first time at the last election, and Labour is desperate to get it back. …
Ms Ardern, who is originally from Morrinsville, has recently moved to Auckland and said she was passionate about the city and enjoying life as an “apartment dweller”.
Jacinda was highly ranked by Labour in 2005, and is one of their more able MPs. As she said, she has just moved to Auckland, and in fact she is still officially the shadow MP for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. I think her office is actually in Tauranga.
Ms Ardern has been able to avoid an internal party struggle for the nomination, with fellow list MP Phil Twyford deciding to go for Waitakere, currently held by National minister Paula Bennett and another of the seats Labour is holding early selection for.
You almost have to feel sorry for Twyford. He’s basically been shafted again (after the Tizard factor had him withdraw from Mt Albert). Jacinda had the numbers on the ground to win the looming selection battle, so Phil has (wisely) decided to concede. However as his office is in Auckland Central (in fact he set it up just two doors away from Nikki Kaye, the National Electorate MP) it is all going to be somewhat strange.
The Waitakere candidate has his office in St Marys Bays, and the Auckland Central candidate has her office in Tauranga. Aucklanders are less parochial than provincial seats, but may still find the carpet-bagging a factor.
Mr Twyford, the party’s Auckland Issues spokesman, said he believed Waitakere should be a Labour seat and its loss was a “temporary blip”.
I think Phil will do better if he doesn’t say things like that. It comes across as somewhat arrogant and a sense of entitlement to the seat. What I would have said is:
I believe that Labour’s values are the values of most Waitakere residents, and I am looking forward for the opportunity to contest and win the seat.
Talking of a temporary blip, suggests you think the voters made a horrible mistake, and that it will right itself given time.
Normally in Opposition, you hope to win seats back, and don’t expect to lose any more. But on current polling, Labour needs to worry about some of the 21 seats it still retains, as well as try and claw some back.
I don’t personally support at large seats on the Auckland Council (mainly because they are impractical) but I also hate poll questions that are slanted, as two City Councils appear to have done.
Both Waitakere City Council and North Shore City Council comissioned a poll of local residents. They used Phoenix Research and Colmar Brunton respectively. They both asked for agreement with this statement:
All of the councillors on the new Auckland Council should be elected by people in their local area (that is by Ward) rather than elected by people across the whole region (that is At Large)
First of all it is fascinating the question was identical in both cases. This suggests the clients dictated the question to the polling companies.
In each city 78% and 80% of respondents agreed with the statement.
But this is no surprise when you look at how it is worded. It appears to be giving people a choice between all Councillors elected by Wards and all Councillors elected at large.
It does not provide a clear option for what both the Royal Commission and the Government have proposed – that there be a mixture of wards seats and at large seats.
I absolutely guarantee you a question that asked a question providing three options of
- All from wards
- All from at large
- A mixture of wards and at large
would get a massively different response. And I mean massively different.
Personally I would not have allowed a question so faulty in one of my polls. It is an absolutely loaded question that doesn’t provide a useful answer. Of course the media reported it as gospel.
Now again I stress I do not personally support at large seats and hope the Government reduces them in number, or does without them. But they should make that decision based on good advocacy and research – not on the basis of such faulty poll questions.
Starting at the top, the three northern seats of East Coast Bays, North Shore and Northcote were solid blue. Their party votes went up 9%, 4% and 11% respectively. In East Coast Bays almost three times as many people voted National as Labour. These seats now are counters to the South Auckland seats.
The personal majorities were 12,800, 13,200 and 8,500 respectively. Northcote was held by Labour up until 2005 and Jonathan Coleman this tme incraesed his majority by around 6,000.
Out west we saw the near impossible – National won the party vote in all three West Auckland seats. Tim Groser worked hard on New Lynn to lift the party vote by 10% to 41%, with Labour dropping 12%. Te Atatu went from 32% to 42% and Waitakere from 33% to 42%. Listing the vote 10% in Westieville was great work.
Paula Bennett’s win in Waitakere is all the more remarkable because of the new boundaries. They had her 6,000 votes behind in 2005 and she won by 900. Groser reduced Cunliffe to 3,500 from a paper majority of 12,000 – also one of the biggest swings! Finally Chris Carter dropped to 4,500 from 7,500.
In central Auckland we have Auckland Central. National lost the party vote by 12% in 2005 and won it by 5% this time. This seat has been held by Labour since 1919 (apart from once going further left to the Alliance), making Nikki Kaye’s 1,100 vote victory all the more remarkable.
Mt Roskill also just went to National on the party vote, and Goff’s majority went from 9,400 to 5,500 – still very safe. His leadership predecessor in Mt Albert won the party vote by 6%, and had a slight dent in the electorate majority from 11,400 to 8,700.
Epsom went from 58% to 63% for National on the party vote, with Labour falling to under 20%. Rodney Hide drives his majority from 2,000 to a staggering near 12,000. They liked his dancing. Tamaki also remains solid blue with another 60:20 split on the party vote. Allan Peachey saw his majority go from 10,300 to over 15,000.
Maungakiekie was another big mover. The party vote went from a 13% deficit to 45 lead. And Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga scored an 1,800 majority from an close to 7,000 majority to Labour previously. Sam is one of the most well liked guys in the National Party, and had one of the biggest teams in recent memory on the hustings. He had between 10 and 25 people door knocking both days every weekend.
Out East we have Pakuranga which was no surprise. It is another close to 60:20 seat. Maurice is very popular locally and scored a 13,000 majority.
Botany. This brand new seat got the second highest party vote in Auckland for National – 62%. Pansy Wong also got a 10,000 majority. ACT’s Kenneth Wang was in third place but got a respectable 4,500 votes.
Papakura. The party vote went 52% to 28% for National, and Judith Collins took a 6,800 paper majority and turned it into a 9,700 real one.
Finally we have the three M seats in South Auckland. Mangere, Manurewa and Manukau East. Mangere saw Labour’s party vote go from 73% to 61%. In Manurewa it was from 61% to 50% and Manukau East from 65% to 57%. But turnout was down also and in absolute terms, Labour went from 55,000 votes to 38,000 over the three seats.
Thankfully Labour’s Sio beat Taito Phillip Field by 11,300 to 4,700
Note the above comparisons are all to 2005 results adjusted to new boundaries. Also a more formal analysis will be done when we have final results.