Four candidates so far for Mt Albert for Labour

The Dom Post reports:

Business studies lecturer , Auckland city councillor , Auckland University politics head tutor and employment lawyer have all confirmed their candidacies.

I would be surprised if McCracken has much of a chance. Not based on any specific knowledge, but the reality he has stood many times before for and never been ranked highly. In 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see a fifth time lucky.

Bates is well regarded and well connected as a former electorate agent. Her age will be a factor though. Helen White could do very well too – she has a professional career established, and has union support.

Fryer is more unlikely, but not as unlikely as McCracken. She doesn’t particularly represent rejuvenation, and her Auckland City Council junket draconian attempt to ban sign billboards will be fresh in some minds.

But the potential candidate cited as Miss Clark’s favoured successor, list MP , is still deciding whether to put his name forward a week before nominations close. Mr Twyford said he had discussed the matter with senior party members, but declined to comment further.

Twyford is a popular and respected MP for Labour. Definitely one of the stars of the future, and no doubt wants a safe seat as security. But by pure bad luck the Tizard issue is a real factor, and no one knows how much. So his choice is does he go for in 2009, or wait for another safe seat to come up, such as Mt Roskill in probably 2014?

At Backbenchers last night they discussed the Tizard issue, and it is fair to say no one was wamly welcoming the possible return. In fact there was a hilarious moment as Wallace Chapman went up to the loudest noisiest most partisan pro-Labour table, and asked them if they wanted back in Parliament. One of them fell mute, while another could only repeat the official script that the issue is about the best candidate, not about who comes in on the list. You know there are problems, when not even your most partisan crowd supporters will say on camera they want Judith back.

And over on Labour Grassroots, members and supporters are not keen. Some quotes:

Suzanne says:

Headlines that say “Goff: Happy to have Judith Tizard back” says nothing to me about a party that wants to revitalise, bring in some new faces, get behind some issues that central Aucklanders care about.Like the Supercity, the environment. If Labour is behind Tizard it makes a mockery of the party recreating getting more in touch with its grassroots.

And Tanya:

Still, the voters are pretty MMP savvy these days, and I believe will be annoyed at Goff for backing Tizard back into parliament, after the voters said no.

And Darren:

Well said, Suzanne. I could not agree more. Labour needs ‘new blood’ everywhere, and to be SEEN to be bringing new faces in at every opportunity. Ms. Tizard did not strike me as a particularly effective MP. Certainly her hand on the on the intellectual property tiller steered it way off course and into the sea of stupidity…. witness the mess of s92a!?!

Her electorate obviously didn’t think she did a good job either, so why the hell would Phil want her back? Regardless of his motivation, which was obviously to keep Tizards’ supporters happy in touchy electoral times, it just makes our Parliamentary leader look horrendously out of touch.

And finally Caitlin:

This whole hullaballoo about Judith Tizard was started by media rumours (probably started by political opposition) and while some Labour activists and supporters may have qualms, we have to continue to pull together as a party to make sure we win this seat. We can’t be complacent – an assumption of victory was one of the problems with the Auckland Central campaign.

Caitlin is right that a party needs to be unified to win, but how motivated will supporters be to bring Judith back into Parliament?

There is also an associated danger with all this. The media will cover the by-election, and the media always have to have some big issues for the by-election. In TKC it was Stratford Hospital. In Tamaki it was send Wellington a message. Now with Mt Albert there may be no big issues on policy – National has just won an election and has gone so centrist it is probably going to even cancel the future tax cuts a couple of weeks before the by-election. So it is hard to see that there will be major policy issues at play in the by-election (unless the Govt decides to knock down 400 local homes for a motorway). But if there are no major policy issues, then issues such as the Tizard dilemma will become a major issue, because the media will make it an issue. They’ll do vox pops on the street asking people about it. They’ll do electorate polls and publish them. People will ask questions at meet the candidate meetings.

Now maybe Mt Albert voters won’t give a damn, even if the media do. They might only care about who will be their local MP, not who will enter Parliament as a result of their vote. But this is the fun thing with by-elections – they are notoriously unpredictable – and with the Greens planning a vigorous campaign, it really will be interesting.

UPDATE: Today’s Dom Post editorial talks about the Tizard issue, noting:

Though the parliamentary party is in capable hands leader Phil Goff and deputy Annette King are respected for their knowledge Labour must nonetheless now find a new generation of leaders to carry the party forward.

How ironic, then, that the departure of Miss Clark and Dr Cullen might reopen the door for two has-beens, Damien O’Connor and Judith Tizard. …

A party that is poised to welcome back Mr O’Connor and Ms Tizard is far from positioned to resume the Treasury benches.

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