I have to say, the more I think about it, the more Labour have really done a good job with their list. I’ll explain why below. People may find it strange that I praise their list when I will hope people do not vote for them, but I do think it is important that MPs in Parliament are of relatively high quality regardless of party.
Looking at my analysis yesterday, Labour have been smart in several ways.
- They have placed six new candidates in high enough spots that even if they only get 31%, they will be in Parliament. This means that if they fall into Opposition the Caucus will not just be the tired faces of the old Government, but will have some fresh talented blood such as Jacinda Ardern.
- No MP who sought a list spot got totally shafted – at 42% (they got 41% last time) they get all their List MPs back. This gives Caucus members an incentive to do as well as last time. I don’t think they will get 42% but it is not out of this world.
- With the exception of Louisa Wall, the MPs placed towards the bottom of the Caucus are those they can afford to lose – Soper, Heroera, Gallagher, Okeroa, Burton etc.
- MPs in marginal electorates have been placed right on the cusp so they have an incentive to maximise the party vote and their electorate vote – Chadwick, Burton, O’Connor, Tizard, Gallagher and Okeroa
- New candidates in seats currently held by Labour have all been grouped together and are unlikely to come in on the list (unless Labour gets over 42%), so are basically reliant on working their hearts out to win their seats. There are some risks with this though as candidates such as Grant Robertson will not make it to Parliament at all, if he loses to Stephen Franks.
- The occupational diversity of their selections seems to have improved. Yes there are still some unionists and teachers in the new intake, but quite so many as previously. And no I have nothing against unionists and teachers – just that Labour’s current caucus is seriously out of touch because so many current MPs are from those two occupational groups only. I wouldn’t want a National Caucus which is 75% farmers and lawyers either.
The list is a good reminder why one should not under-estimate Clark’s desire to win. She protected the Caucus in 2002 and 2005, but has been resolute enough to cut some adrift this time, and the list looks to be largely merit-based rather than based on factional deals.
It is fascinating that on current polls, National and Labour will both have six Maori MPs. I suspect it has been a very very long time since Labour had no more Maori MPs than National!